“The power to kill can be just as satisfying as the power to create.” Rope review

Hitchcock’s Rope in  1948 was based on a 1929 play of the same name which in turn was supposedly based on the famous 1924 Leopold and Leon murder case. In case you are not familiar with the case, I wasn’t, it involved Leopold and Leon,two affluent, highly educated young men selecting a victim, young 14 year old Bobby Franks, killing him to demonstrate their supposed intellectual superiority, getting away with it, and thereby committing the’ perfect crime’.  It was at the time considered the crime of the century and makes for very interesting reading, not least because their lawyer managed to get their death sentences commuted to prison time, no mean feat considering their admission of guilt and the age of their victim. Anyway the play and film have aged the victim, thank goodness, not that that makes his fate any more deserving.

For folks interested in the technological aspects of filming  Rope should be seen because not only was it was Hitch’s first technicolour film, it was one of his more experimental films. He wanted the film to imitate the feeling of a play, this idea of ‘real time’ but the limitations of the day meant he could could shoot anything longer than 10 minutes at a stretch and people, apparently, get a kick out of spotting the editing cuts. Not really my shtick, but I can appreciate how rewarding, the kicks, such activity might produce.  Hitch called it “an experiment that didn’t work” but I think history has proved him incorrect, and although it is one of his lesser known and less successful films, at the time,  it has quite a following and is beloved by video editing teachers the world over.

I am far more interested in is the look and the language and in neither does he Rope disappoint. This is the kind of New York apartment I want complete with table weighed down with bottles of  every conceivable alcohol and a fridge stacked with champagne. Everyone is dressed impeccably with not a hair or seam awry and gold cigarette cases abound. And as to the dialogue, well it’s ear candy. These guys might be  ruthless murderers, and snobs to boot, but at least you would never be bored at one of their dinner parties. Brandon, the cooler of the two and I don’t mean that in a hip way, has some repeat-worthy one liners, however I wouldn’t want to be his friend, – not sure I’d pass muster and one missing guest is one missing guest too many, never mind two missing guests. What was that Wilde said about losing one parent being misfortunate  but to lose two was carelessness.

Jimmy Stewart is well Jimmy Stewart and hs is a bit of pompous git so when he takes his tumble I smugly rejoiced.The two chums are more than just ‘mates’ and some folks make a deal of this but most don’t, or just try to spot the subtle ways said relationship was acknowledged but that not be noticed by the censors. It’s a bit like the game to spot Hitch and in Rope, well, I tip my hat to anyone who spots him, unaided by Google or Wiki.

Rope is an unfortunate reminder to us that some folks feel they have the right to do as they please, an aspect of human nature we  still struggle with today, and one that terrorist groups, armies, criminals and law enforcement officers demonstrate on a daily basis. It was eerie and very disconcerting to hear Brandon espouse his philosophy given the daily bombardment of videos of  a similar theme, by folks who similarly feel they have the right to determine who will live and who will die. If only they were as easy to stop!

Well worth a viewing- edit spotting or not.

Advertisements