Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Two young men think they are smart enough to get away with murder. After killing their friend, they host a party and invite his family to dinner while hiding his body in the same room they dine in, thinking they will not get caught.
Based off of the infamous Leopold and Loeb murder of 1924, Rope, is a study of the carnal sin, murder. Brandon (John Dall) and Phillip (Farley Granger) are two young, brilliant men, or so they think. They believe they are so smart that they could get away with murder and that murdering someone of a lesser mind is acceptable. The film picks up right after they have murdered their friend David and stashed his body inside of a large trunk in their New York City apartment living room.
To make their crime all the more thrilling and to prove they can push the limits of getting caught, the two have planned a dinner party to start mere minutes after the murder has taken place. Brandon is confident and thrilled about what they have done; Philip on the other hand is panicking and second guessing what they just did. Though there is no time to argue as their maid and guests start to arrive. Of course it’s not just any guests, but people who will miss David. His fiancé, father, aunt and an old rival of his. At first everyone has a good time while they await the arrival of David, who is never late. When the doorbell rings one last time everyone assumes it is David, but instead it is Rupert Cadell (James Stewart), the murderer’s old teacher, that inadvertently inspired them to commit the crime.
As the party continues, Philip keeps panicking and Brandon enjoys the thrill of it, so much so he even decides to have the food served on the trunk that holds the body, relishing in the fact that the evidence is so close. Though everyone starts to worry about David’s whereabouts, no one suspects anything suspicious, except Rupert who has a keen eye on the duo.
After some close calls of the trunk being opened, the party ends without incident with everyone going their separate ways. Thinking they have gotten away with it, their celebrating is cut short when Rupert shows back up at the apartment having forgotten something, when in reality he wants to question the men some more.
Though sixty years old this is one film that certainly stands up to the test of time. Though there is not as much suspense as a modern day film might stuff down your throat, the film is still tense. The psychology is brilliant and is what brings the tension and mood to the plot. This of course is mostly because of Hitchcock’s film making skills. A unique way he made the film have tension is by making it feel seamless by only having two noticeable cuts in the entire film. Hitchcock did this by shooting ten-minute shots and ending them with panning across an object and picking up the shot there to make for a seamless shot. Therefore the film seems as if it was done in one take. The movie also runs close to real time as a film can, making it feel as if it is really happening before your eyes. The acting is also decent and about what you can expect from a movie of this period.
Though a modern day viewer would most likely not even pick up on the extremely subtle references to the fact that the two leads might be gay, the film caused an uproar and was banned in numerous cities because of its “homosexual content”. That mixed with the fact that after it was released it became one of the “five lost Hitchcock” films (making viewing the film for over thirty years impossible) caused this film to be lesser known when it comes to Hitchcock classics. Though it deserves much more attention.
It may not be action packed or thrilling, but the psychology and subject matter of the film could be talked about for hours.