Rope (1948)

rope poster 1948 movie hitchcock
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Good concept and interesting execution

Not Hitchcock's best, more of a play

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Rope

Studio:  Transatlantic Pictures

Genre(s):  Mystery/Suspense/Drama

Release Date(s):  August 28, 1948

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

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It’s isn’t a party until some one gets strangled…

Phillip Morgan (Farley Granger) and Brandon Shaw (John Dall) have just committed a crime.  They’ve murdered their friend David Kentley (Dick Hogan) just to see if they could do it.  Now with Brandon’s insistence, they are throwing a dinner party for a number of guests which include their old housemaster Rupert (James Stewart), David’s father (Cedric Hardwicke), David’s aunt (Constance Collier), David’s fiancée (Joan Chandler), and David’s friend Kenneth (Douglas Dick).  As the party wears on, questions rise about David’s disappearance and Phillip and Brandon try to keep their tracks covered.

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, Rope is a suspense thriller.  Following Hitchcock’s The Paradine Case in 1947, the film is an adaptation of the 1929 play by Patrick Hamilton which in turn is loosely based on the true life 1924 murder of Bobby Franks by Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb.  The film was considered one of Hitchcock’s “5 Lost Hitchocks” with The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), Rear Window, The Trouble with Harry, and Vertigo in that the films were out of circulation for decades due to copyright issues.

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It’s Hitch!

Rope is one of Hitchcock’s lesser works, but it does have some renown.  The movie is known for being shot in “real-time” with the story taking place the length of the film.  This is partially true, Hitchcock did edit cuts into the film, but the events do occur during the film runtime.  This makes Rope an interesting work by a master filmmaker.

The story for Rope is more interesting for what is not there.  On the surface, it a pretty simple game of cat-and-mouse with a less vulgar version of Titus Andronicus playing out at the party (the friends of David eat dinner served on the case holding his body).  Rupert figures out the mystery through some relatively simple deductions…that it.

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We’re not hiding anything…seriously. Just two guys hanging out.

The movie’s subtext is what is interesting.  It is generally assumed that Morgan and Shaw are a gay couple.  It isn’t said in the movie, but it is implied.  Farley Granger (who later appeared in Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train) was gay and it had to be odd at the time taking on a role in which he wasn’t really hiding.  Granger’s performance was widely praised which could be a result of his personal ties to the performance.

Visually is where Rope stands out.  It is fun to watch a “continuous shot” film regardless if it is an illusion.  The film does feel like a play as a result of the style and confined set, but Hitchcock does work the set to the max…and he even has time for his trademark cameo in the opening street shot.

Rope is by no means a perfect film, but like almost all Hitchcock films, it is interesting.  The movie is rather quick and simple and that is something that later Hitchcock film lost.  Like almost all of the movies, Hitchcock never really knows how to end his films…Rope gets around this by not needing a true ending (aka what happened to the characters next).  Rope just ends, and that is a good thing.  Alfred Hitchcock followed Rope with Under Capricorn in 1949.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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