Rope (1948)

Genres - Thriller, Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Psychological Thriller, Film a Clef  |   Run Time - 80 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Review by Patrick Legare

Though it lacks the excitement of his best works, Rope remains a solid suspense effort that is recognized as one of Alfred Hitchcock's most technically challenging films. Since the entire story -- two young men commit murder for sport, hide the body in a chest, then celebrate the effort by having a party whose guests include the victim's father and girlfriend -- occurs in real time in one setting, Hitchcock shot Rope in a series of continuous ten-minute takes. Furniture and walls were mounted on rails so they could be silently moved to allow for the camera's access. The onscreen action required no less innovation, and the cast, including Farley Granger, John Dall, and James Stewart, handles the lengthy scenes brilliantly. Technical merits aside, the picture's real sparkplug is Stewart. The actor single-handedly electrifies the film with his stellar performance as a suspicious college professor. The film is loosely based on the case of famous thrill-killers Leopold and Loeb, who were homosexual lovers; though it is never explicitly stated due to 1940s censorship rules, Hitchcock makes it apparent that Granger and Dall are playing homosexuals. Rope marked two other Hitchcock firsts: it was the first picture he shot in color and it was the first one he produced. The director's cameo is the subject of much debate. Some claim he is seen during the opening credits crossing the street, but the more likely appearance is at the film's one-hour mark, where his famous countenance can be seen in a distant neon "Reduco" sign in the city background.