Two men attempt to prove they committed the perfect crime by hosting a dinner party after strangling their former classmate to death.
Can't believe I'm only seeing this now. It's great. Basically a play. There couldn't have been more than 15 shots. Ending had me in tears. Shouts out
Rope was the first Alfred Hitchcock/James Stewart collaboration. They would go on to do "Rear Window", "The Man Who Knew Too Much", and finally, "Vertigo". This being the first, and also a kind of experimental film on Hitchcock's part, it is the weakest of the four. Shot as a play, mainly in one room, and with only a handful of cast members, the concept of how it was done is intriguing even today. Done in roughly a dozen takes, the only times that the camera ever cuts are when it closes in on someone's back and then angles around to the other side. That's the tell-tale sign of the only cuts in the entire film. John Dall's acting is commendable, in the part of the more ruthless killer, Brandon Shaw. He's a very cool character, and feels no guilt over the brutal murder he's just committed. James Stewart, great as he is, seemed a bit out of his element, as intellectual publisher Rupert Cadell. Stewart is always immensely enjoyable, and I have massive respect for his talent. However, he does appear somewhat uncomfortable with his part throughout the film. Another aspect that detracts from the tension is the opening scene of the murder taking place. After David Kentley is dead, he is placed in the wooden chest and the audience knows he's dead from scene 1. Had Hitchcock omitted the scene of the murder, the audience would no doubt be wondering "Is there really a body in that chest? Did they really do it? What's going on here?" And the red herrings in the film would only add to the suspense. As it is, we know from the start who's dead and who-done-it. That said, it's a decent movie, and certainly still worth the watch.
Now I may be completely off beam here, but there is something ever so slightly homo-erotic about the relationship between John Dall ("Brandon") and Farley Granger ("Philip") in this rather clunky murder tale that is less of a mystery and more of a bragging exercise. The two, having murdered their college friend "David" invite some folks round for a dinner party that shows the pair - especially Dall - as obnoxious men with a profoundly mis-placed superiority complex. As their odiousness is enhanced by over-confidence and drink, their former school master "Rupert" (Jimmy Stewart) starts to suspect that there is more to the absence of "David" (the more suspicious because his father, Sir Cedric Hardwicke has come to the supper) than meets the eye; and soon he begins to put two and two together. I found the long takes helped build the tension quite effectively, but the dialogue was relentless and the fine line between characterisation and irritation - for me, anyway, was well and truly crossed. If Dall's purpose was to alienate the room and the audience, then he succeeded spectacularly - and it says in the trailer - it's certainly not a film you will ever forget.