Rope (movie)

From Academic Kids

(Alfred Hitchcock's Rope)

Missing image
Farley Granger and James Stewart

James Stewart, John Dall, Farley Granger, Sir Cedric Hardwick, Constance Collier, Douglas Dick, Edith Evanson, Joan Chandler, Dick Hogan

Director: Alfred Hitchcock, H.C. Potter
Producer: Alfred Hitchcock, Sidney Bernstein
Screenplay: Patrick Hamilton (play), Hume Cronyn, Arthur Laurents, Ben Hecht (uncredited)
Cinematographer: William V. Skall, Joseph Valentine
<p align="center">Poster

Rope (1948) is an Alfred Hitchcock film notable for appearing to be one continuous shot. It is based on the play "Rope's End" by Patrick Hamilton, which was in turn inspired by the real-life murder of a young boy in 1924 by two college students named Leopold and Loeb. Two brilliant aesthetes (John Dall and Farley Granger) plan the perfect murder in the spirit of lectures on the art of murder once made by their erstwhile housemaster (James Stewart). They strangle a former classmate and hide his body in a chest in their apartment, whereupon they throw a party for the victim's family and others from the school, thus, they believe, demonstrating their superiority. When Stewart realizes at the end that his two former students have indeed murdered, he is horrified — and ashamed of his own rhetoric.

Hitchcock was both producer and director. Except for the 1932 film Lord Camber's Ladies, which was Hitchcock's only association with that film, Rope is the first movie for which Hitchcock receives a credit as producer (he was the uncredited producer on Number 13, Suspicion and Notorious.)

Rope employed numerous innovations:

  • This was Hitchcock's first color film.
  • It was shot on a single set.
  • Each shot ran continuously for up to ten minutes without interruption. Camera moves were planned in advance and there was almost no editing.

Hitchcock filmed each scene in segments lasting up to ten minutes (the length of a reel of film at the time), each segment continuously panning from character to character in real time. Several segments end by panning against or zooming into an object (a man's jacket, or the back of a piece of furniture, for example) or by having an actor move in front of the camera, blocking the entire screen; each scene after that starts a static shot of that same object. In this way Hitchcock effectively masked some (but not all) of the cuts in the film.

(This technique has been used frequently since to "hide" edits, for instance in the Eagle-Eye Cherry music video "Save Tonight," and also in Steven Soderbergh's film Erin Brockovich: Julia Roberts appears to get into a car, drive down the street, and get hit by another car, but in fact the camera lingers behind on the road after she leaves, and at that point the film cuts).

Although it is commonly believed that all the cuts in Rope are hidden, in fact, only half are. Another misconception is that all the shots last ten minutes. Actually, of the ten shots used for the film, only three approach or exceed the ten minute mark. Five of the shots range between seven and eight minutes, and the penultimate and final shots last only about four-and-a-half and five-and-a-half minutes, respectively. A description of the beginning and end of each reel follows, with the approximate duration of the shot given in parentheses.

  • R1 CU strangulation to Blackout on Brandon's back. (9:34)
  • R2 Black, pan off Brandon's back to CU Kenneth: "What do you mean?" (7:51)
  • R3 Unmasked cut, men crossing to Janet to Blackout on Kenneth's back. (7:18)
  • R4 Black, pan off Kenneth's back to CU Phillip: "That's a lie." (7:08)
  • R5 Unmasked cut, CU Rupert to Blackout on Brandon's back. (9:57)
  • R6 Black, pan off Brandon's back to Three shot. (7:33)
  • R7 Unmasked cut, Mrs. Wilson: "Pardon me, sir."to Blackout on Brandon.(7:46)
  • R8 Black, pan off Brandon to CU Brandon's hand in gun pocket. (10:06)
  • R9 Unmasked cut, CU Rupert to Blackout on lid of chest. (4:37)
  • R10 Black, pan up from lid of chest to End. (5:38)

Hitchcock used this long-take approach again on his next film, Under Capricorn.


Rope may be considered a homoerotic movie. The film clearly indicates that the two murderers in the film were having an affair. Even though homosexuality was a highly controversial theme for the 1940's the movie made it through censorship. Both Dall and Granger were actually gay in real life, as was Arthur Laurents the script writer — even the piano score played by Granger (Mouvement Perpétuel No. 1 by Francis Poulenc) is the work of a gay composer. Granger's role was first offered to another homosexual actor, Montgomery Clift, who turned the offer down, probably due to the risks of coming out in public. Leopold and Loeb, who the students' roles are based upon were in fact also gay.

In Hamilton's play Rope's End, the dialogue is much more homoerotic and so is relationship between the students and their teacher. Many of these "risky" elements were removed from the script as the play was rewritten for the film, due to the censorship of the time. Despite this, Hitchcock managed to supply much subtext which made it past the rigorous tests of the censor.

Three other films, Compulsion (film), Swoon and Murder by Numbers, were also based on the Leopold and Loeb case.

External links

Template:Alfred Hitchcock's filmsde:Rope fr:La Corde


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