Jonathan White’s review published on Letterboxd:
I’ve finally gotten around to Rope. I’ve seen it on many friends Hitchcock favourite lists over the years, and its svelte run time made it a good fit the other night when we started rather late.
I normally would want to spend more time on such a classic, but it’s now been a few days, and I’m just going to dash off some observations before I forget, and perhaps give it the review it deserves on a rewatch.
The most stagey of Hitch’s films, as it plays out on a single set ( Rear Window, at times my personal Hitch favourite, is close, but we see some outside action ), yet it doesn’t seem confined or ‘stagey’ in the least. I attribute that to his continuously moving lens, and extremely long takes. I read that Hitchcock later dismissed this as a gimmick, but I disagree, it’s exactly what separates it from a static shot stage play on film; you feel you’re a participant, like a real party you drift from one group and conversation to another, and this is exactly what I felt.
The other thing that hit me while watching was this was the perfect depiction of what Lone Scherfig tried to achieve with her 2014 film, The Riot Club ( which Lise, Len, Rick, and I walked out of at TIFF that year ). Where Scherfig tried to exploit debauchery of the privileged little fuckwads, Hitchcock so elegantly portrays this one so much better by not showing his self-entitled little brats busting up a place and acting like horses asses, but rather the ultimate act of self-aggrandisement … getting away with murder. Not only because you’re smart enough to do it, but because you feel your status allows it.
I read that Jimmy Stewart thought this was his worst performance, and that he was miscast. I tend to agree here. His very nature and ability prevent him from projecting the arrogance and self-importance needed for the role. I read that Cary Grant was a first choice, and I think Grant, especially now after seeing his phenomenal Only Angels Have Wings performance, might have been a better fit.
A quibble, though, really. While I’m not Hitchcock’s biggest fan, I must say that this is one of his best, and right up there with my favourites, Rear Window, North by Northwest, and Vertigo. I look forward to a revisit down the road.