Tuesday, November 16, 2021

#PopCultureResolution - Rope


Director: Alfred Hitchcock

Length:  80 minutes

Cast: James Stewart, John Dall, Farley Granger

Release Date: August 23, 1948

Synopsis: Just before hosting a dinner party, Philip Morgan (Farley Granger) and Brandon Shaw (John Dall) strangle a mutual friend to death with a piece of rope, purely as a Nietzsche-inspired philosophical exercise. Hiding the body in a chest upon which they then arrange a buffet dinner, the pair welcome their guests, including the victim's oblivious fiancée (Joan Chandler) and the college professor (James Stewart) whose lectures inadvertently inspired the killing.

Rope ended up not really fitting with my horror theme as it is definitely not scary or a horror movie. I would consider it more a movie filled with tension and held breath. It doesn't work as a mystery either but there is still something a little unsettling about it.

This is very loosely based on a true crime - the murder of Bobby Franks by Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb. It may not have many similarities to the real crime, but the motive and other details are definitely inspired by it. The short version of events is that these two young men commit murder purely to see if they smart enough to get away with it. In the movie, the two men decide to throw a dinner party the same day as the murder with the body concealed within their apartment.

There should be a photo of John Dall as Brandon Shaw next to the words arrogant and smug in dictionaries. He exudes self assured hubris that makes you wish to punch him in his smug face. He is so confident that it becomes overly so and that makes him a fascinating but rage inducing character. 

Farley Granger as Phillip Morgan is the exact opposite. He is a hot mess in the extreme and his behaviour is telegraphing as suspicious. It is interesting that both are giving signals about their actions just in very different ways.

The cast is exceptional. Alfred Hitchcock is known for his directing but the casting of his films is equally impressive. James Stewart is especially good here and it lead to him collaborating on three other Hitchcock films (including the highly regarded Rear Window). 

This is a film adaptation of a play and so it mostly has a single set that the action takes place on. Hitchcock makes fantastic use of this small setting by playing up the tension on when the body might be discovered and by whom. That proximity is a tell tale heart for the audience with the knowledge of it pulsing through your thoughts constantly. It makes the movie gripping and truly Hitchcockian. It also allows for longer shots that are seamlessly woven together.

This may not be my favourite Hitchcock film but it would probably make my top five. I wouldn't recommend it if you are wanting a horror movie but it is a well directed, well acted, tension filled film that I would highly recommend. 

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