An experimental film masquerading as a standard Hollywood thriller. The plot of Rope is simple and based on a successful stage play: two young men (John Dall and Farley Granger) commit murder, more or less as an intellectu... more »al exercise. They hide the body in their large apartment, then throw a dinner party. Will the body be discovered? Director Alfred Hitchcock, fascinated by the possibilities of the long-take style, decided to shoot this story as though it were happening in one long, uninterrupted shot. Since the camera can only hold one 10-minute reel at a time, Hitchcock had to be creative when it came time to change reels, disguising the switches as the camera passed behind someone's back or moved behind a lamp. In later years Hitchcock wrote off the approach as misguided, and Rope may not be one of Hitchcock's top movies, but it's still a nail-biter. They don't call him the Master of Suspense for nothing. James Stewart, as a suspicious professor, marks his first starring role for Hitchcock, a collaboration that would lead to the masterpieces Rear Window and Vertigo. --Robert Horton« less
"Alfred Hitchcock's Rope, the first film that the Master of Suspense filmed in Technicolor, has languished in largely undeserved mediocrty since its release in 1948. The film didn't do well theatrically in the US, and subsequent versions (VHS) were made from terrible-quality originals. Finally, Universal has seen fit to release on DVD a marvelously restored version of a truly fine film.Rope, based on a play of the same name, which was in turn based on a real murder case in 1924, opens with two friends - played by John Dall and Farley Granger - strangling a classmate with a length of rope. The body is then stuffed in a trunk that the two use as a buffet table during an upcoming dinner party - a party partially in their murdered friend's honor.As the movie progresses, the friends' professor - played exceedingly well by James Stewart in one of his best-acted roles - eventually begins to suspect the crime. As the two students engage him in a discussion about Nietzschian philosophy, and specifically philosophy of the ubermensch (overman or superman), Stewart's character puts two and two together. The tension is so tight you hold your breath for the last half-hour, wondering if Stewart knows, and if he does, what he's going to do about it - and, more importantly, if he's in danger, too.Much has been made of the technical side of the film - Hitch wanted it as close to a stage play as possible, and the entire movie has only nine (well-hidden) breaks - as well as the homosexual overtones, but the real genius in Rope comes from the acting and direction. As opposed to today's "roller-coaster ride" action movies, Rope builds slowly, layering tension upon tension until the viewer just can't wait anymore to find out what happens. Anyone can toy with an audience, using special effects, explosions, and fast cars to create action, but true suspense - that hourglass feeling of grains of sand building a mountain - takes talent, and Rope readily uses that effect, thanks largely to the preformances of the three main characters.In addition, Stewart's ultimate conclusions on Nietzschian philosophy offer a refreshing step away from those who would indict it solely on the basis of notions (and books) like the Will to Power - people who can see no further than the two murderers. Like Hitler and Dall and Granger's characters, some people cannot see past these passages, often taken out of context from the rest of Nietzsche's thought. Thankfully, Arthur Laurentis' screenplay ultimately deals with these ideas in a mature manner - and shows the horrifying effects of the hubris so many undergraduate-level students get when they don't bother to read and conside Nietzsche in context.Universal's DVD is excellent - the picture and sound quality are top-notch, especially considering it's been more than 50 years since Rope was filmed. The full-frame presentation isn't a problem, since widescreen movies didn't exist at the time. The half-hour long featurette offers some interesting insights and interviews with a couple members of the cast and crew, and isn't your usual "so-and-so was great" pieces. Hume Cronyn offers some genuine - and well-founded - criticisms of both Hitch and the finished product. Also included is Rope's unique theatrical trailer, a kind of "mini-short" featuring the soon-to-be-murdered lad discussing a marriage proposal with his girlfriend in Central Park, in surprisingly decent quality considering the film's age.If you are a fan of Alfred Hitchcock, or just like great acting and pianowire-tight tension, then you can't go wrong with Rope."
newtonbosswell | Winter Park, FL United States | 10/13/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Based on an actual murder case and directed by legendary director Alfred Hitchcock, Rope tells the story of two very close, well to do roommates Phillip and Brandon who strangle David, an old school chum, just for kicks. To further increase the exhilaration of their dastardly deed, the duo deem it delicious to desecrate the dead by placing his body into a chest and serving their dinner party guests a banquet on its decorated top. The guests of honor at this most perverse soirée include their former prep school professor Rupert Cadell (James Stewart), the murder victim's parents, his fiancé, and her former boyfriend. This tapestry provides tension for Phillip as he is nervous about being caught and questions abound as to David's whereabouts. Interestingly, Brandon feels smug even justified as he views the act of murder to be relegated to a select superior few.Rope explores Nietzsche's concept of the "übermensch" or "superman" in which society's people are divided into two groups. Those who believe in the concepts of right and wrong and behave accordingly are deemed inferior beings and therefore unnecessary. While those who are enlightened enough to realize that one is free to act according to their own volition because there are no such primitive or external constraints on behavior are deemed superior. In this worldview, homicide is justifiable because the intellectually superior are actually bettering society by eliminating the inferior and their drain on its resources. The story comes to a head when Professor Cadell who taught Phillip and Brandon these nihilistic concepts begins to suspect that they practiced what he preached by killing David. Rope was shot with eight; 10-minute reels to give the illusion of one seamless, continuous take. This forces the viewer to pay attention to every word and provides an eerie feeling that he/she is a witness to the murder and is a guest at the dinner party. What also drives the film is its witty if not macabre dialogue that is punctuated with puns, innuendoes and double entendre. It is also interesting to watch the professor engage Phillip and Brandon in the proverbial game of cat and mouse. Likewise, the characters are richly developed and deep. Rope is Hitchcock's most underrated and unappreciated film. Which is a shame because I believe Rope poses some very provocative questions. Is there sanctity to human life? Are all human beings equal? Is murder ever justifiable? Is there right and wrong? Is moral absolutism an outmoded idea in which only the weak and dumb subscribe? Is a teacher responsible for his/her students' actions? Ultimately, the viewer must decide."
"Nothing has ever held you like Alfred Hitchcock's ROPE!"
S. J. West | Eads, TN United States | 01/02/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"ROPE is a very experimental-and highly underrated-Hitchcock film. The film (based on the play ROPE'S END and, although loosely, the Leopold-Loeb murder) begins when two young men (John Dall and Farley Granger) murder a college student for fun and because he is a "lesser" man. As a celebration they throw a party inviting the victim's parents, his girlfriend, her ex-boyfriend who Dall would like to put her with, and their old college teacher (James Stewart). ROPE is a highly entertaining and suspenseful film. The experimental angle comes as the film was shot entirely in eight ten-minute takes, (or was that ten eight-minute takes?) giving the impression that it was all one shot. The casting is great, with Dall perfect as the psychotic murderer, Sir Cedric Hardwicke memorable as the victim's father, and Stewart...well, you can't say too many good things about him, though it takes him a while to appear. While not as good as some of Hitchcock's earlier (THE 39 STEPS, REBECCA) or later (VERTIGO, NORTH BY NORTHWEST) masterpieces, ROPE is very well made film, perfect for fans of Hitchcock, Stewart, or suspense films in general.ROPE's final rating: 9 out of 10"
3 1/2 stars for film inspired by Leopold and Loeb case
Wayne Klein | My Little Blue Window, USA | 01/04/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The first film that Hitchcock released through his Transatlantic Pictures company, Rope is an underappreciate minor classic. It's flawed to be sure but this unusual experiment was shot in long takes an unusual approach for Hitchcock. The story was inspired by the Leopold and Loeb murder case and their obsession with the superman theories of Nietzsche. Philip (Farley Granger)and Brandon (John Dall)have committed the murder of an old classmate for the thrill of it. They invite over mutual friends, the father and mother of the victim and their old prep school master Rupert (Jimmy Stewart)who first introduced them to Nietzche's theories. They drape a table cloth over the trunk where the dead body rests.Written by Arthur Laurents and Hume Cronyn from the play Rope's End by Patrick Hamilton, Rope allows Hitchcock to indulge in a number of unusual cinematic experiments. It was Hitchcock's first movie to be shot in color and the entire 80 minute film is shot on one set with the skyline gradually changing. If Hitchcock had gotten his ideal cast the film might have been quite different; originally Hitchcock wanted Carey Grant for the role Stewart player and Montgomery Clift as Brandon. The transfer is good although there is some edge enhancement and some analog and compression artifacts (although they aren't a huge problem). The vivid 3 strip Technicolor process comes to life on this DVD. The colors are pretty close to the version I saw screened. I should note, though, that I originally saw Rope at the UCLA Theater Arts Archive in black and white (a color copy wasn't available) on a Movieola and it was a nitrate print so I'm comparing it to versions that were released much later than the original. While Rope isn't a perfect Hitchcock excursion, it's an enjoyable and admirable one that features a number of interesting visuals, strong performances and an interesting thought provoking story. The extras on this edition are quite nice as well including a feaurette entitled Rope Unleased, production photos and notes. Sadly, no extensive outtakes exist for Rope and everything that was written was, for the most part, shot."
"Rope" - - A Hitchcock Classic
Wayne Klein | 01/13/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Rope" - - an Alfred Hitchcock film with a unique style and plotline, with unusual yet effective cinematography and some of the best actors to play the leading roles. Adapted from a theatre piece, the one-set, appox. 80 minute long movie was simply ahead of its time. The premise is as follows: Two men strangle a fellow classmate for intellectual thrills, and continue to flaunt their macabre working at a dinner party held after the murder. The party is made up of the dead man's friends and family, the maid, and the dead man's former teacher. While one of the murderers is daring and proud, dropping subtle hints to the partygoers of what was actually happening, the other becomes more and more nervous as the deceased's teacher becomes ever-so-close to discovering the horrible truth, and the fact that the chest that the body is stuffed in is the very buffet table they all had been eating off of. Based on the Leopold/Loeb murder case, "Rope" is a probing psychological thriller. May not be a "Scream" or "I Know What You Did Last Summer", but it is definately a nail-biter that ranks with some of Hitchcock's best."