Urine Couch Movie Club: Rope

1948 rope movie

Rating: 18/20

Plot: Brandon and Philip (possibly gay) strangle one of their peers with the titular murder weapon and then hide his body in a trunk while throwing a dinner party. Their old teacher Jimmy Stewart starts to get suspicious after one of them yells, "You're quite a good chicken strangler!"

That's such a great scene. The camera moves like on a metronome, bouncing from speaker to speaker. Actually the camera work in this thing is virtuosic and, for me at least, is at least half of the fun. What I love: Brandon (played by Orel Hershiser, I think) post-murder, his expression of unhinged contentment and the way he smokes his cigarette; the kitchen door swinging to reveal the rope dropped into a drawer; the opening of the curtain for the first super-crisp view of the city; the long shot of silent Jimmy at the tail end of that ridiculous chicken story; the camera movements during the "How would you kill David?" scene; the room filling with red neon at the end. Rope, with Hitchcock trying to trick us into thinking it's all a single shot, could have been as stiff as a staged play, but that camera movement and character choreography is so much fun. The Dostoevskian, nihilistic lead characters and their little game fascinate, and there's a lot of humor buried in the script if you look for it. The landlady's arrival, the "knock 'em dead" and "Why can't he keep his hands off people?" lines. As I recall, Hitchcock didn't like Jimmy's performance in this movie and Jimmy didn't like the movie at all. They're both wrong because Stewart is quietly great in this role (I really like watching him think in this movie) and it's definitely in the upper-echelon of Uncle Alfred's flicks.

Urine Couch note: I ended up giving a guy and his whore a room for 25 bucks because I could tell he was going to argue with me and make me miss more of this movie than I wanted to. My manager wasn't too happy about that.


cory said...

It was well worth the motel losing money. Barry showed me this about 25 years ago, and it has always been one of my favorite Hitchcock, Stewart, and offbeat films (it's somewhere near my top-100). You mentioned all things that make it great...Granger coming hilariously unhinged, Hitch's style, cinematography, and penthouse set (with city view), and most of all is Stewart's acting as he puts the pieces together and then blows. Oh, and don't forget John Dall's uniquely creepy screen presence. There is no other film quite like "Rope", and it's a must for fans of Stewart, Hitchcock, film study, or those who want to know where homosexuality can get you (just kidding). A 19.

Barry said...

I give this baby an 18.....it loses two points because Jimmy Stewart is so much better than anyone else in this that its distracting. Farley Granger is okay, but John Dall is playing it so broad that its incredibly distracting. So many mannerisms and tics from one guy.

Good, well done movie. "Did you think you were God or something?" Cory and I have traded that quote back and forth for decades now.