Rope (1948) Review



Time: 81 Minutes
James Stewart as Rupert Cadell
John Dall as Brandon Shaw
Joan Chandler as Janet Walker
Cedric Hardwicke as Mr. Henry Kentley
Farley Granger as Phillip Morgan
Constance Collier as Mrs. Anita Atwater
Douglas Dick as Kenneth Lawrence
Edith Evanson as Mrs. Wilson
Director: Alfred Hitchcock

Two young men, Brandon Shaw (John Dall) and Phillip Morgan (Farley Granger), commit a murder and host a dinner party to toast for a perfect murder. However, reporter Rupert Cadell (James Stewart) finds them suspicious and starts probing them.

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I knew of Rope as being one of Alfred Hitchcock’s earlier and lesser known movies, yet one that’s very well received. It’s also known as that movie from him that’s made to be looking like it’s all filmed in one shot. Released in the late 1940s, it was very innovative for its time, introducing a number of filmmaking experiments that other films hadn’t done. Even beyond those however, Rope is still a really good movie on its own, and very much well worth the watch.


The plot of Rope is pretty straightforward: two men strangle another man to death, hide his body in their apartment, and then throw a party in that same party to determine the perfection of their crime. It’s also pretty short at 81 minutes. However, the movie gets the most out of its premise and runtime. Rope is gripping, riddled with suspense throughout. It effortlessly engages the viewers in its very well crafted plot, and sustains the tension throughout its entire runtime, even when the audience has an idea of how the movie will end. It’s also perfectly paced so you are always locked in with what is happening. The script itself is very well written, I love the dialogue and how it foreshadows future events, and there’s a good amount of dark comedy throughout. It is based off a play, and watching the movie you can definitely see that, but it pulls it off and is thrilling from beginning to end. At the same time, it’s more than just a simple thriller where the tension is whether the two killers will get away with it. Rope is also a dissection on the philosophy and morals surrounding murder, especially with the lead characters. Looking deeper into it, it might be one of Hitchock’s darkest movies, if only for some of the behaviours and mindsets of the killers.


The acting is pretty good all around, even if it does feel very stage-like. Considering that much of the movie is shot in long continuous takes, it was no doubt a lot for them to carry those long scenes with long stretches of dialogue. James Stewart is the most well known of the cast, and he’s good in his part, though he doesn’t appear until after the first 30 minutes or so. For much of the movie it is John Dall and Farley Granger as the two leads as the killers. What makes them interesting is that their characters aren’t doing this as a last minute attempt to hide the body and get away with the murder, it’s really to prove how smart they are. The two of them play each other very well and are both great in their parts.


Alfred Hitchcock directs this very well, Rope is actually his first movie shot in colour. As for the actual look of the movie, it’s nothing special at first, it looks like a TV movie. However the cinematography and camerawork is one of the most famous parts of the movie. Like I said before, it is because Rope is shot to make it looks like it’s one long continuous take. That in itself is highly impressive on a technical level, but it also makes you fully engaged in what’s happening. You are immersed in the narrative, as you are in the apartment for the entirety of the film. Speaking of which, I really liked the set design, and how the apartment was set up gave the movie a little something extra.


Rope is likely one of Alfred Hitchcock’s most underrated movies. It’s a short, simple and contained thriller that is incredibly effective, from the great performances, a sharp script, and excellent direction. It’s well worth watching if you haven’t checked it out already.


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