What do you think of Rope (1948)?

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I really like the opening and ending of the movie but I feel the middle section suffers from the subplot where the main villain wanted to get the woman to end up with another guy, or whatever that was about. I was unsure why he was doing or it what his motive was, unless I missed something?

But again, love the opening and third act. I feel that the whole one shots and no cutting may have worked better if the camera moves were faster. If Hitchcock decided to do 'whip pans', at quite a bit of the moments, then the camera could have moved to characters reactions much faster. Instead it feels like the camera is playing catch up to a degree in a lot of moments.

I also don't quite understand how the Rupert character, tells Brandon that he took his words and twisted them to commit his crime, but Rupert's word seemed pretty clear, I don't see how they were twisted much at all, but I probably just didn't get it .

I read Roger Ebert's review of the movie, and I'm surprised he only gave it 2 stars, as I felt he would have liked it since he likes other Hitchock movies, which I didn't think were in a higher league at all.

But what do you think?



"Money won is twice as sweet as money earned."



Ebert only gave Rope 2 stars? I only gave it 3 stars, so I guess I'm in good company. I've seen Rope a couple of times and this is an excerpt from my review and why I think Rope didn't work as good as it should have.

From Citizen Rule's review:

Rope, I feel it's a good movie but middle of the road for Hitch. I never got that sense of tension and desperation that Hitch was so famous for. I think that's because of two choices that Hitch made: The 'continual take' and his choice of actors.

'Continual take'...The movie looks like it was made in one long camera take. It wasn't of course and if you keep your eyes open you can see where one take ends and another starts...usually from a closeup of the back of someone's jacket or some solid object. Though there are direct cuts too...at the start of the party there's an edit from Brandon to Ropert's face.

I thought that continual take was OK, BUT it has the side effect of not being able to show events taking place elsewhere. And it might have been effective to start with an opening shot, set in the college classroom where the
murderers learn of the idea that 'murder can be an elite form of art' from their teacher Rubert (James Stewart). That would have shown the two men's impetus for murder and given us more of a background...That in turn would've built tension by foreshadowing future events. But there's no flashbacks with a 'continual take'. Even Hitch would later call his continual take just a stunt.

Casting:
Hitch was known for making superb casting choices, most of the time. Originally Montgomery Clift was intended to play Brandon Shaw, the
dominant murderer. Clift would have been awesome in Rope, but I think the actor who played Brandon (John Dall) was truly excellent as a narcissistic sociopath intellectual. Though his sidekick Philip (Farley Granger) didn't bring much to the role. I would have loved to see Montgomery Clift play Philip.

The maid was a gem, as was the aunt. I really liked Joan Chandler as the girlfriend of the murder victim too. BUT as much as I like James Stewart, he was all wrong for the role and that's the other problem with the movie. Rupert is suppose to be a haughty, smug, intellectual professor who feels murder can be justified as an art form...but doesn't actually have the guts to carry off his own views.

Jimmy Steward is the antithesis of this...He's down to earth, he's friendly, and he's very trust worthy, every one likes Stewart! and he's just the wrong fit. He thought so himself too.


It's funny because during the movie they talk about actors of the day like: Errol Flynn, Cary Grant, James Mason. Cary Grant was the first choice to play Rupert... James Mason would have made an excellent Rupert. So would have Walter Pidgeon or James Massey.

Overall a fun Hitch movie, but not a masterpiece.



Yeah those would have been interesting choices for Rupert. I can't see Montgomery Clift playing Brandon at all though, but I can see him playing a good Phillip.



The Adventure Starts Here!
I saw this a long time ago and now feel I want to rewatch it. I'm curious if @Yoda will weigh in here, since he's a Hitchcock fan. I think he and I may have had a conversation about this movie a long time ago...



I'd like to offer my impressions despite having not seen it for some years. Reading what you've written has brought a good deal of it back to me. Overall I'd say it was good and one of my preferred Hitchcock films, as I typically like his 1940's stuff the most.

Firstly, I find the long camera takes to be particularly pleasing - I don't view it as a novelty at all - and think they're particularly effective in giving the impression of a live stage production, placing a significant emphasis on the script throughout. I think the camera moves around at a nice pace among the characters without being particularly noticeable or odd in any way. I think it was done very well, though probably not the sort of thing you'd do for every film. A refreshing change from the usual I'd say.

Additionally, I simply have an appreciation for the technical challenge involved, such as the constant re-arranging of the sets and intricate camera work, as well as admiration for the actors for being professional and versatile enough to carry it off. Cinematographer Jack Cardiff reckoned it one of his greatest achievements when he was asked to use the same method for Hitchcock's Under Capricorn.

Secondly, I've always been impressed by the look of the colour cinematography. At least on my copy (which comes off a tape), everything seems really well balanced and pleasing to my eye, as opposed to the typical 1950's Technicolor which is typically much stronger and more heavily saturated which I tend not to like as much. Somehow I've tended to have the impression that '40s colour just looks better to me.

Getting to the script, I do find it refreshing to see Hitchcock doing something a bit quieter and slower paced than his usual heavy suspense and high drama style. Of course, this isn't the only one by far and I'm not knocking the classic style that he's famous for, other than I do tend to find it a bit repetitive and so appreciate when he does something a bit different.

What it lacks in drama I think it makes up for in controversy, and by that I refer to what I see as the very obvious homosexual context of the relationship between the characters of Brandon and Phillip. This is the main theme of the movie, subdued and never overt as it had to be for those times, but always there and presented as an element or related factor for many of the traits and actions committed, mostly by Brandon, such as: the psychopathic tendencies, excitement of violence, domination, manipulation, jealousy of other men, all culminating in the opening murder scene and the rest of the plot to play out. Furthermore the general aloofness and distrust towards women. This is all what I took the majority of the script to be about and shows once again Hitchcock exploring themes that his audiences might find unsettling, though I suspect that some elements may have been a little too subtle for many to pick up on.

Finally with the script, I simply see the James Stewart character, Rupert, as kind of the straight man in the setting - the one all of the audience is going to trust and observe with the other characters revolving around him. He's the central character, notwithstanding he doesn't really have that much of a role. I find that the script for his character at the end leaves a bit to be desired and that more could have been done. Then again, perhaps that was the intent.

Casting wise, no complaints. I think they all played their roles well and I don't think generally speaking other actors would have made much of a difference, due to the film being so heavily emphasised on the script.

Lastly, a question I'm asking myself now as I think about the film (as I said it's been a while since I've seen it), but is this one of those films with no music throughout except in the credits and what's supposed to be natural in the film, like pianos, records and such? I don't remember any music and Hitchcock was often known to like his dramatic scores. Interesting concept if so, one used by a reasonable number of films of that time, mostly b-grade noirs looking for realism, and kind of adds to that stage-like production again in being minimalist with the impression of a real life drama.

So yes, I enjoy the film and whilst I wouldn't rate it as one of his best, I do appreciate a lot of the very unique elements presented which set it apart from most other films. If I had to give it some kind of score, I'd probably go 4/5. And that's based on the kind of film they wanted to make, in the time and place where it was made, and perhaps what they could have done better. Thanks for making me think of it. Guess I'd better watch it soon and see just how wrong I've been about it all. . . cheers, lol.



I've always liked Rope. I like how self-contained and focused it is. I like how it's essentially a retelling of Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart. I like late-career Stewart in an interesting and nuanced role (as opposed to a Mr. Rogers clone), and I particularly like his speech at the end, with is mix of righteous indignation and self-flagellation, as he realizes that ideas have consequences and all his interesting academic theories are horrific when someone puts them into action, something which people have discovered time and time again in real life, too.

Not too much more to say. There's nothing really tricky going on, I don't think, though I'm sure someone who's studied it more than me can point out a lot of subtle things I've either not noticed or just forgotten. It's just a very good, very straightforward thriller.
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Hitchcock considered Rope as something of an experiment. He stated in his lengthy Truffaut interviews: "I undertook Rope as a stunt; that's the only way I can describe it. I really don't know how I came to indulge in it."

To be sure, the film was interesting (inspired by the Leopold and Loeb murder of 1924), and technically it was a major milestone in terms of exceedingly long takes, which he notably increased in his subsequent Under Capricorn. But to my taste the film felt awkwardly self conscious, almost spoof-like. James Stewart was miscast as the detective, and even a gifted actor such as he could not bring off the incongruity.

The picture held one's interest because of Hitchcock's clever suspenseful tack of putting the body in the trunk, around which the story developed, and that, by itself, was memorable. But the picture had too much the feel of a second rate stage drama.

So the film was significant in terms of technique and innovation. But as a movie, it was only a curio. To my taste it would be amongst the bottom third of Hitchcock's films.

~Doc



I read your review. It's interesting how you say that the fact that Brandon and Phillip are lovers, is made clear by the housekeeper. How did the housekeeper make that clear exactly? I already guessed this, mostly cause of how the two act, toward each other, but I never got anything from it, from the housekeeper.



She asks them if they're going someplace or coming from someplace and it's her tone and the way she refers to them as a "unit". If you watch the scene again, it's the way she words the question and the exact line escapes me right now.