Screen-Jems Film Review: ‘Rope’

A Quick Watch That Rope-s You Onto The Edge Of Your Seat


Margaret Jemian, Staff Writer

4.7 out of 5

If you’re like me and enjoy engaging crime thrillers, Alfred Hitchcock cameos, and film references within the standup of John Mulaney, then I thoroughly recommend Rope, a forgotten-gem within Hitchcock’s legendary filmography.

Adapted from a 1929 play of the same name, this engaging story takes place at a dinner party where less than an hour before, Brandon (John Dall) and Phillip (Farley Granger) committed what they believe to be “the perfect murder,” strangling David Kentley, an old friend of theirs. 

As the evening progresses, the guests, which include David’s girlfriend and an old college professor of theirs (played by none other than the miraculous Jimmy Stewart), begin to wonder where he has gone, and as Phillip’s fear of exposure grows, so does Brandon’s pride of the act. 

The film draws a central concept from Hitchcock’s “bomb theory,” which details two scenarios: the first has two people sitting at a table having a conversation, when suddenly, a bomb under the table explodes. The viewer is momentarily surprised, but that is all. 

The second scenario has the same two people sitting at the table, however, the viewer knows that the bomb under the table is there, and that it will explode in 15 minutes. This small bit of knowledge immediately puts the viewer on edge, altogether creating the ideal environment for a thriller to thrive.

The same concept applies here: the film opens with David’s murder, the pair subsequently placing his body in a large chest, which just happens to be the table in which the dinner is served off of. Additionally, Brandon uses the very same rope that strangled the deceased to tie up a package for one of the guests. Bold, huh?

All of the guests begin to suspect that something has happened to David as the night progresses, comparing stories and finding holes in what they’ve been told. Each time I watch this film, I always manage to find some new detail that either further exposes Brandon and Phillip’s violent truth or leads Stewart’s character to discovering the pair’s terrible secret.

This film itself cuts in only about five places, which is an element that merely keeps the viewer rope-d in (I couldn’t resist) and constantly involved in the story. Hitchcock also takes the lengthy shots as an opportunity to focus the viewer’s attention onto a single element, whether it be a deathly intriguing discussion of murder, the anxiously frightened face of Phillip, or even the unknowing maid clearing the table and nearly opening the chest itself. 

All in all, Rope is not only a classic, but a psychological masterpiece, as every suspicion, hint, and metronome tick pushes the viewer further and further off their seat in anticipation of the success of Brandon and Phillip’s “perfect murder.”