Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Running time: 80 minutes
Hitchcock's most audacious film, Rope (1948) takes its inspiration from a play by Patrick Hamilton that, in turn, is based on a chilling, real life murder. Two brilliant, snobbish young friends – and, by the film's implication – lovers, Brandon Shaw and Phillip Morgan, perpetrate a murder in their smart Manhattan apartment. The supercilious Shaw (John Dall) and the sensitive Morgan (Farley Granger) strangle to death their former classmate and best friend David Kently, hiding his still warm body in a piece of furniture, a coffin-like chest that, throughout the film, rarely disappears from camera view. The men see their crime as an act of 'intellectual vanity' - the perfect murder - and were inspired, in part, by their former school teacher, Rupert Cadwell (James Stewart in his debut role for the director) who had discussed with them the intellectual concepts of Nietzsche's Übermensch and the 'art' of murder as means of showing one's superiority over others. To celebrate their success, they decide to throw a dinner party, inviting the relatives of the victim, including his father and aunt, as well as Cadwell, to their “sacrificial feast”. However, while the meticulously dressed Shaw retains control, Morgan starts to drink, becoming visibly upset and morose as the evening wears on. Eventually, as Cadwell starts to pick up on some clues, a simple mistake leads to the film's final crescendo and the men's eventual downfall. An experimental movie, Rope is shot in 'real time', filmed in what appears to be one continuous take. (In reality, Hitchcock loaded his camera with 10 minute reels and used an actor's back or a piece of furniture to block the cuts between them.) With its economy of means - just a studio skyline backdrop, a few fiberglass clouds and some neon lights adorn the set - it's exemplary of the director's ability to create suspense. (Hitchcock lures his audience in as unwitting accomplices since, unlike the guests, from the very start of the movie, they are always aware of the crime). In this way, both actors and audience feel 'trapped' in the action, a technique that the director later explained in an interview with Truffaut, was his attempt to make the cinematic equivalent of a play. Carefully planned and with almost no editing, Rope reflects Hitchcock's experiments into how brilliantly effective a camera can be when allowed to work more or less on its own.
Reservation is not necessary, but places are limited. Please arrive early to avoid disappointment.