IT BEGINS WITH A SHRIEK… IT ENDS WITH A SHOT!
Brandon and Phillip (John Dall, Farley Granger) strangle a former classmate to death and hide his body in a wooden chest in their apartment, moments before hosting a party where the victim’s parents are invited. Celebrated in its day primarily for its technical innovations, but it is on the whole a very enjoyable thriller from a big studio director having enough confidence to make the film look like it was shot in one long take. The “invisible” cuts (appearing at ten-minute intervals) may look obvious today, but it’s a nifty exercise whose cool, artificial look is reinforced by a gorgeous cyclorama portraying the city at different hours of the day. Tense and claustrophobic; James Stewart is great as the sharp professor.
1948-U.S. 80 min. Color. Produced by Sidney Bernstein, Alfred Hitchcock. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Screenplay: Arthur Laurents. Play: Patrick Hamilton. Cast: James Stewart (Rupert Cadell), John Dall (Brandon Shaw), Farley Granger (Phillip Morgan), Cedric Hardwicke, Joan Chandler, Constance Collier.
Trivia: Hume Cronyn originally adapted Hamilton’s play. Inspired by the 1929 Leopold-Loeb case, which was also portrayed in Compulsion (1959) and Swoon (1992). The play has also been filmed for TV several times.
Last word: “On ‘Rope’ we had a difficult time because the set was practically impossible to work in. Because all the walls moved, and everything moved, the furniture moved, everything did. And a lot of times we’d get it wrong, and we had to do it again, you know, and it was not a happy experience for Hitch, but he behaved very, very well.” (Granger, “Skip E. Lowe Show”)