Starring James Stewart, John Dall, Cedrick Hardwicke, Farley Granger, Joan Chandler, Constance Collier, Edith Evanson, Douglas Dick
Skilled. Clever. Suspenseful.
Brandon: I’ve always wished for more artistic talent. Well, murder can be an art, too. The power to kill can be just as satisfying as the power to create.
Two well-to-do, talented young men-Phillip (Granger) and Brandon (Dall)-believe that some people are fundamentally superior to others and have the moral right to commit murder. They start with a friend from college, David, hiding his body in a trunk in their apartment, and then inviting a small group over for a dinner party, as a game of sorts, but one of the people they invite is their old mentor, Rupert (Stewart), and he shrewdly catches onto them. The critical consensus on Rope seems to be that it’s good, not great Hitchcock, or, as some critic I can’t remember put it, “hardly top-shelf Hitchcock.” They all point to the technical expertise on display-one location, nine actors, and only a handful of shots done in long take. Rope is certainly a shining example of Hitchcock’s technical ability and creativity, but it’s more than just an experiment or a minor credit on the director’s long resume. I think Rope is top-shelf Hitchcock. It’s taut, expertly told, and fascinating, with one of James Stewart’s best performances. The whole ensemble of actors are perfectly matched, but I especially admire Stewart and Dall’s performances. Stewart, for once in his career, is essentially a supporting player whose charisma and presence quickly ratchet up the tension as soon as he walks on the stage. I’m only familiar with Dall from two films-this and Gun Crazy-but they’re great films and he’s tremendous in them both, here, all arrogance and psychotic smirks.
-Walter Tyrone Howard-