James Stewart is perfect! they don't make actors like him anymore.
The camera shots and the set are just stunning. I still can't believe the view put of the apartment window is fake! it looks amazing.
Alfred Hitchcock was truly one of the best directors of all time.
The film's theatrical roots prickle through every frame and line of dialogue, and Hitchcock uses the kitchen sink setting to draw attention to his characters' expressions, cadences and shortcomings in a way seldom seen outside of courts and conviction rooms.
It's rare to see a film so wholeheartedly reliant on its actors, but when Hitch's experiment works, Rope is a bubbling cauldron of wits and weaknesses. When it doesn't, it's a circular bickering battle grounded in subtle homoeroticism.
brilliant -- moments. Did you notice how the continuous flow of the camera (Hitchcock disguised most of the necessary cuts rather deftly) climaxes in the penultimate conversation between Phillip, Rupert (James Stewart) and Brandon? The kinetic movement of the camera "becomes" Rupert's theoretical POV (and the late David Kentley's probable POV) as he muses with the dangerous (and drunk) young men about exactly how he would have murdered David. Rupert falters for a moment in his mock planning, avoiding the obvious choice of placing the body in the large chest, while the camera moves swiftly in the opposite direction that Rupert describes.
The characterization -- or how the audience occupies the spaces of the characters -- is more disturbing than the murder itself. For the whole party/film we are forced to watch the hapless victims of the deceased's father, fiancee, and friends as they are unconscious of the irony that only Phillip and Brandon are cognizant. The audience is identified neither with
Phillip/Brandon or with the family/friends alone, but strangely with both: we, ourselves, were given special access to the murder and have been with Phillip and Brandon from the beginning. It is this identification with those we would not -- socially and publicly -- wish to identify with that Hitchcock makes the most of (this isn't the first time, and it won't be the last that he would use this phenomena.) The experience of suspense builds in this time we have spent with Brandon and Phillip and in our (partial) allegiance to these characters. Imagine beginning the film ten or even five minutes after the opening credits -- the audience's experience of the party would be almost utterly identified with the family and friends of David. The party would seem (as it did to many of them) as simply bizarre. Hitchcock's placing of the murder anterior to everything gives the body a kind of "signifier"- like quality: we "know" it is there, but it effects us in it the traces of its presence (in this case, tucked safely away in the chest and the memories of the hosts/guests. The chest is a signifier for the body itself, which we never see again after it is placed inside.)
Hitchcock's camera is far more alienated in this film than in his former and latter works, and while we could say this was no doubt influenced by his technical choices, I prefer to see the camera work as a meaningful artistic structure of the film. The camera fluidly captures each macabre moment as it glides from one conversation to another, each darkly cast by the disturbing subtexts of the murder and the unknown presence of the body. For my money, Rope is suspense in one of its most pure and rare forms: the audience knows everything -- motive, the hidden body, the murder weapon -- and we are left too squirm in our seats.