Saturday 5 February 2011

Rope - Movie Review

Rope - 1948
Director -Alfred Hitchcock

1) Rope - Movie Poster

Plot Summary / review:

Set entirely in a New York apartment, 'Rope' opens with the murder of a young college graduate David Kentley. The perpetrators behind his murder are fellow classmates Brandon Shaw (John Dall) and Phillip Morgan (Farley Granger). Throughout the course of the opening act, we discover their motive is purely based on the belief they are intellectually superior to David and the 'average' man.

2) Murder of David

Chief instigator and author of the insidious plot is Brandon who revels in his new found power whilst Phillip begins to show signs of regret and anguish. To save themselves disposing of the body in daylight and risk being spotted, they put David's limp body into an old chest.

3) Coffin table

Adding insult to injury, we discover Brandon has arranged a house party that evening, the guests comprising of David's relatives, his fiancĂ©e Janet (Joan Chandler) and her former lover and their old teacher Rupert Cadell (James Stewart). Brandon insanely gloats they have made the perfect crime as they move the cutlery and ornaments from the dinner table onto the chest cruelly making David's relatives dine from his grave.

4) Party guests

The evening progresses and the guests arrive whilst Brandon and Phillip's maid Mrs. Wilson works away in the background. Brandon becomes increasingly more daring, dropping hints to Janet's former lover that David won't be part of her life any more. Phillip becomes more and more distressed, especially when Brandon reveals his beliefs to the room on culling the human population. The guests become more and more agitated over the disappearance of David meanwhile Rupert begins to piece the puzzle the together.

5) Suspense

In true Hitchcock style, the suspense is ramped up to near excruciating levels as the guests converse whilst Mrs. Wilson begins to clear the cutlery from the chest. With each pile of books she brings back over to put away in the chest, the more the audience curiously wants Brandon or Phillip to prevent her from opening the chest. "...what is interesting is the way Hitchcock's sly amorality forces us, through the suspense, to side with the killers." (Andrew, 2006).

6) End scene

After the guests have left and the murderous pair believe they have succeeded, Rupert returns claiming he has left his cigarette box in the flat. He has unfortunately for them, realized what they have done and retraces the crime and reveals he has found the rope they used to kill him. After opening the chest, Rupert manages to get Rupert's gun and fires shots out of the window, causing the public to call the police. The sirens approach as the three sit in the flat contemplating their fates.

"Hitchcock could have chosen a more entertaining subject with which to use the arresting camera and staging technique displayed in Rope." (Variety staff, 2008). A curious quote from the variety staff as Rope is a hugely entertaining movie. Particularly for the time it was made, the subject matter was a risky move for Hitchcock. He does benefit from strong turns from Dall as the suave, psychotic Brandon and Granger is equally good as his murderous sidekick deteriorating with guilt. "Mr. Hitchcock has followed the goings and the comings of characters with evident ingenuity. His camera stands back and takes them in, singles them out on occasion and even moves in now and then for close looks." (Crowther, 1948). Rope is a unique movie and technically one of Hitchcock's greatest achievements. Based on Patrick Hamilton's play of the same name, Hitchcock pays tribute to theatre but demonstrates the power of cinema dropping the audience right in the middle of the action. The film feels like a theatre production with long takes and edited together to feel like one continuous take, the camera enables the audience to walk amongst the actors and set.


Andrew, Geoff. Timeout Review. 24th June 2006 Accessed 04/02/11

Crowther, Bosley. New York Times Review. 17th August 1948

Variety Staff review. 18th October 2008


1) Rope Poster. Accessed 04/02/11

2) Murder of David. Accessed 04/02/11

3) Coffin table. Accessed 04/02/11

4) Party Guests. Accessed 04/02/11

5) Suspense. Accessed 04/02/11

6) Ending. Accessed 04/02/11

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