Rope ★★★★½

Rope is easily one of my favorite Alfred Hitchcock films, and I find it sad that it gets little mention among his great works. Made in 1948 starring the inimitable Jimmy Stewart, Rope explores the psyche of a couple of privileged students who set out to commit the "perfect" murder. Also starring John Dall and Farley Granger, Rope is another Hitchcock film in which murder if flippantly discussed and pondered, and murderers hide in plain sight in the most unlikely of places.

Wealthy and privileged students Brandon (John Dall) and Philip (Farley Granger) have just killed a classmate they have deemed as inferior, both hopelessly committing to the Nietzschean idea of the superman of the human race. Believing themselves to be far superior to their murdered classmate, they now seek to see just how far they can go in parading their crime in plain sight. After hiding the murdered body in a chest in their shared apartment, they decide to host a party in which they invite a professor of theirs along with the murdered student's father and finance. As the party goes on, and the two subtly brag about their crime through thinly veiled references to their believed superiority. As they go on talking about murder and superiority their professor, Rupert (Jimmy Stewart) begins to suspect that something sinister has taken place.

Rope starts out a bit like another favorite film of mine, The Lost Weekend. Beginning an outside shot of a window that slowly goes into the apartment of Brandon and Philip where a senseless murder is currently underway. This brilliant juxtaposition between the calmly hectic outside world with the internal disaster taking place in the apartment brilliantly illustrates the struggle of the psyche in Rope, as effectively as this shot takes place in the Billy Wilder film The Lost Weekend. This film is everything I love about one setting dominant films. There is so much activity going on with the different houseguests and their individual conversations taking place within the party that the audience can hardly tell that they don't leave the apartment throughout the film. Hitchcock's decision to follow the maid around the house as she cleans while keeping the table which holds the murdered student's body in the foreground was the most suspenseful film moment I can remember, proving once again Hitchcock's hold on the suspense genre. Yet again, Rope is another of Hitchcock's film in which it is completely normal party conversation to discuss how to pull off the perfect murder. Interestingly enough, Jimmy Stewart seems to have suggested the purge franchise as he seemed to champion "strangulation day" in which murder is acceptable. Hearing the party guests talk about Cary Grant, Mary Pickford, and Bergman as contemporaries makes me want to teleport myself to the '40's; I so belonged in that decade.James Stewart is simply an American treasure, I just adore him in every role I have ever seen of his. Rope is a film not to be missed, by Hitchcock enthusiasts and novices, alike.

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