Daniel Holford’s review published on Letterboxd:
Scavenger Hunt 65 - movie 7 | task 19 - a film by a director not working anymore |
“The power to kill can be just as satisfying as the power to create.”
As I slowly go through Hitchcock movies for the first time, I’m finally realising just how masterful he was at his craft. The movie is a technical achievement for the time. Made to look like it was all filmed in one shot, the movie manages to feel like a stage play. Perfectly pieced together, making every single shot and scene feel important to the overall narrative.
Obviously the master of tension, Hitchcock does something different here. The murder occurs within the opening seconds, leaving the tension and suspense instead this sort of game the murderer plays to prove how great the murder was. It feels like a murder mystery put into reverse, still managing to capture the tension throughout.
There’s so much slowly building of tension, I love how the camera will shift from characters talking to show something more important in a different part of the room. It’s even more surprising how well the film manages to be interesting and engrossing, with just one rather small set. I love how each and every character feels like they have their own narrative, each taking place at the same time but the film never feels messy. There’s a brilliant script, all the characters interact with eachother in a realist way, and all have chemistry together. There’s a few moments of brilliant tension that arises from the different perspectives and interactions.
The cast are brilliant. Jimmy Stewart playing to his strength, charming, clever, the superior to the others in the room. Someone for the two leads to look up and try to impress. John Dall and Farley Granger as Brandon and Phillip are the perfect centre pieces to the movie. Their relationship is interesting and intriguing, almost complete opposites of each other in how they handle the situation. Brandon confident, cocky, pushing his luck, while Phillip more reserved, worried and down right scared. It makes it all the more interesting that you never actually seen the lead up to the murder, just their dialogue and discussions for their motivations.
The film takes an intriguing look at the upper classes. How the view of murder on someone in the lower classes is just fine. Their superiority complex making them feel like this sort of act is more of a marvel or piece of art rather than what it truly is, is rather fascinating.
It’s a really enjoyable thriller, and one that I will certainly revisit. Hitchcock manages to create and build more tension with one set, a few characters and only 80 minutes than some directors manage in their whole career.