- Rope review by Steve Mason
Hitchcock's first colour film is a classic. Adapted with Hume Cronyn from Patrick Hamilton's play, in turn based on the Chicago killers Leopold and Loeb, it is one of Hitch's impediment films, set within the confines of a single apartment in long shots of typically about eight minutes, joined by screen wipes giving the illusion of a single edit over 80 minutes.
During WWII Hitch shot footage in a concentration camp and when he made it into a short film, he used edits as long as possible so hostile observers couldn't suggest he had changed the truth of these places through editing. This aesthetic was then transferred to Rope.
Some feel the idea was gimmicky, and James Stewart said it was a film about the camera, but I think it really works. It has a questing energy, and a claustrophobia that suits the material; the exposure of two sociopaths indoctrinated by eugenics and Nietzsche who kill an acquaintance who they consider inferior. It is Hitch's most philosophical work, brilliantly acted with a witty script. But what is foremost is the director's most original and complex staging.
The whole film is a tour de force, but among many spectacular flourishes the dramatic ending lingers longest, when Stewart fires shots out of the window and we hear the noise of a city ready to come to help, contrasting with the elitist intellectual solipsism of the murderers.
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