Scott Anderson’s review published on Letterboxd:
Holy shit, I love this film.
Unconventional way to kick off a review, I know, but I can't help it. Rope is 80 quick minutes that are so perfectly paced, so perfectly executed that I couldn't help but be totally fascinated by the entire experience. The opening scene of the film shows two men, Brandon (John Dall) and Phillip (Farley Granger) as they are in the midst of murdering a man named David, and Brandon expresses no remorse due to his belief that they are superior human beings to David and thus should be entitled to eliminate someone inferior to them. They decide to make their own "perfect" crime far more risky and uncomfortable by inviting over guests for a dinner party as the body is hidden in a chest right in the middle of the room.
The guests at this dinner party add to the suspense of the film but also illustrate just how deranged the killers are, as the father and fiancee of the victim are in attendance, often wondering aloud why David has not arrived yet. Arriving late to the party is Rupert (Jimmy Stewart), the former schoolteacher of Brandon and Phillip, who unknowingly served as the inspiration for the crime, as the boys felt he had taught them the concept of taking out those who are deemed lesser and unimportant.
Rope takes place entirely inside the apartment of Brandon and Phillip, feeling very much like a stage performance rather than a film, and I have come to find out it was in fact based off of a play. The performances were extraordinary across the board, and the presence of Stewart really brought it over the top. Absolutely masterful acting enhanced by some of the most brilliant camera work I have seen, with a few frames eliciting an actual verbal "wow" from me. Last but not least, the dialogue in this film is just so fantastic, allowing 80 minutes taking place on one set to never be even remotely boring.
The most fascinating character of the film is Brandon, watching him transform into what seemed like different people in such a short period of time. At the start of the film he is overflowing with confidence and pride over the murder he had just committed, going as far as saying they should have done it with the blinds open because more light in the room would have made it a better experience. As the first wave of guests arrive, he seems to be getting a thrill from clever wordplay that hints at their transgression and embraces the idea that these people who love David will never have the chance to see him again.
However, as Rupert arrives, something changes. Brandon seems intimidated by the man, nervous to talk to him and the whole tone of his character shifts. Suddenly he seems much less cocky as if he no longer thinks of himself as the most superior person in the room, wanting the approval from his inspiration that what he did was right. The brilliant ending to Rope illustrates this perfectly, as it seems the words and actions of Rupert weigh on Brandon far more than the senseless murder he took part in ever did.
Rope immediately jumps into iconic Hitchcock territory, which to be honest I never expected. It has always been Vertigo, Psycho, Rear Window and everything else for me, but no longer. Welcome to the club, Rope. I look forward to revisiting you again and again and again.