Sunday, November 30, 2014

'Rope' is one of Hitchcock's best

Rope (1948)
Starring: John Dall, Farley Granger, and James Stewart
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Rating: Nine of Ten Stars

In order to prove their intellectual superiority to themselves, Brandon and Philip (Dall and Granger) strangle  a former classmate. They then hold a party for his family, his girlfriend, and other mutual acquaintances where dinner is served over the place where the body and murder weapon are hidden. As the evening progresses, they drop hints about the deed they've committed, dangling particularly heavy clues in front of their old teacher, the man whose lectures inspired their twisted ideas (Stewart).

"Rope" was Hitchcock's attempt to make a thriller with as few cuts as possible, so it takes place mostly in real time and in two rooms of a New York City apartment. It was an interesting cinematic experiment that is also an excellent psychological thriller. It's also one of those rare movies that is engrossing despite the fact that the film's "heroes" are all extremely unlikable--from the psychopath and his weak-willed follower who murder an innocent man in the film's opening moments, through the arrogant professor who ultimately proves to the killers that they aren't as brilliant as they think they are.

In the hands of lesser director, in a film with less-tight pacing and control, or performances delivered by lesser actors, "Rope" would have been a disaster.

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