Jordan Cuthbert’s review published on Letterboxd:
I've been looking forward to doing a Hitchcock film review for sometime now. I've seen twelve of Hitchcock's pictures thus far, and I can honestly say I haven't seen just an 'ok' flick of his. Each one of them has their own delicious flavour: with signature direction and blonde femme fatale's, whilst always maintaining the highest degree of suspense. They didn't call him the 'master of suspense' for nothing, that much is evident if you've ever had the full on Hitchcock experience - and I don't think any one of his films have made me feel as tense and on the edge of my seat as his 1948 release, 'Rope'.
Whilst not my all time favourite Hitchcock picture (that crown goes to his 1958 release, 'Vertigo') Rope (with it's snappy 80 minute running time) had me totally hooked right from it's striking opening scene, to it's conclusion...and not once did I let go of the rope.
Featuring John Dall, Farley Granger and Hitchcock favourite James Stewart in the leading roles, Rope (based on a 1929 play of the same name) is set and filmed in one location, a room inside an apartment block. The films premise is a simple one, and just to note what I am about to mention is not a spoiler as it literally happens in the first frame of the film - Dall and Granger strangle a former classmate of theirs to death in an attempt to commit the "perfect murder"...the body is hidden and they have guests over for dinner. I won't divulge more than that, the rest is for you to sit and bite your nails over. What proceeds in it's short running time is thoroughly captivating throughout, as the viewer or the inquiring eye of this experiment in the "perfect murder" spirals helplessly out of control.
The acting is superb from all the of the cast, the performances from Dall and Granger as the guilty double-act are fantastic and they have a great conflicting chemistry between eachother. The addition of James Stewart adds another dimension to the picture, his charm and charisma oozing off the screen. James Stewart is one of my favourite actors and it's his roles in Hitchcock's films where he shines the most I think - his razor sharp delivery of dialogue and ways of conveying emotion is a joy to watch.
The limitations and restrictions I think are what makes this film such an engrossing watch. The fact that it's just set in one room (actually two, but it's shown very briefly!) creates a sense of claustrophobia amongst the characters and indeed the viewer. I think it's incredible how Hitchcock plays with his audience in Rope - just when you when think there is going to be a big reveal, or someone is going to get found out, he prolongs time and continually heightens the tension on screen to boiling point. It's a race to see which bursts first - the characters or the viewer.
What Hitchcock displays in Rope is something that I find so exciting and appetising about cinema. The mystery/suspicion, the not knowing what's around the corner, the crippling downfall of his characters etc. How he pulls all this off in a confined space is genius and you feel like you've been on a anxiety driven journey...but you haven't left the room.
Give Rope a go...it won't let go of you.