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Rope (Hitchcock 1948)
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Writers: Hume Cronyn (adapted by), Patrick Hamilton (play)
Cast: James Stewart, John Dall, Farley Granger
Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller

Based on
the real life Leopold murder case...Two young intellectual college men decide to murder their classmate, who they consider to be inferior...just to prove that the perfect murder can indeed be committed. The pair of murderers then decide to hide the body in their apartment to 'show off their perfect crime' by inviting friends and family of the victim over for a dinner party.

Review: This was my second viewing of 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...at the start of the party there's an edit from Brandon to Ropert's face.

I 'continual take' technique was interesting, BUT it has the side effect of not being able to show events taking place elsewhere. And it might have been more effective to start with an opening shot that's set in the college classroom where the
murderers learn of the idea that murder can be an elite form of art from their teacher. That would have then shown the two men's impetus for murder, giving us more of a background...which would have 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.

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 this, 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. He's suppose to be a haughty, smug, intellectual professor who feels murder can be justified as art...but doesn't have the guts to carry out his own views.

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

This was the only movie James Stewart made with Alfred Hitchcock that he did not like. Stewart later admitted he felt he was miscast as the professor.
It's funny because during the movie they talk about actors of the day, Errol Flynn, Cary Grant, James Mason. Cary Grant was the first choice to play Rupert...But it's James Mason would have made an excellent Rupert. So would've Walter Pidgeon or even James Massey.

Overall a fun Hitch movie, more than a masterpiece.