“You once said that all actors are cattle.”
“Well no, I’m often misquoted on that. I actually said that all actors should be treated like cattle.”
I can do a number of things here.
Maybe I can post Youtube videos. Maybe I can make a top five list of something involving Hitchcock or maybe I can discuss the man’s excellent show… but I just thought I’d get pompous for a while and discuss my favorite Hitchcock film for you.
Don’t like it? Well, everyone is doing is, so why can’t I?
Many people always ask what my favorite Hitchcock film is.
And regardless of how many times I go over it, I always trail back to “Rope.”
No, this isn’t an attempt to be different from the other movie geeks, I love “Rope.” It’s perhaps my favorite Hitchcock film of all time, it’s that constant mystery that keeps me on the edge of my seat, and clutching my hair in anxiety.
What “Rope” succeeds in is performing two tricks on the audience. On one hand you want our two elitist murderers to be discovered and brought to justice, but on the other hand, once someone comes across the dead body without their knowledge, you’re nervous because… some part of you wants them to get away with it.
Does it mean you’re sympathizing for them? No, but Hitchcock’s little experiment manages to bring the audience at the level of the spectator, the party guest, and the murderer, and we sit wondering what will happen next.
Who will discover the body? How will they discover the body? And how can someone be so cruel as to make a corpse the centerpiece for a humble little dinner party?
I love “The Wrong Man,” because I simply love Fonda, and I love films like “Psycho,” and “The Birds,” and “Strangers on a Train,” but alas, I always go back to “Rope,” because Hitchcock just clutches me by the throat from minute one and does this through his filming experiment which may not have become a fixture in filmmaking, but worked in favor of the mystery before us.
Hitchcock filmed each segment on a succession of only eight minutes, and this was through a continuous pan that managed to follow characters in and out of rooms, in and around hallways, and of course sitting around the book case that housed our young murder victim.
Starting with a horrible shriek, “Rope” begins on a gruesome note as our culprits (and constantly hinted lovers, a bold move on Hitchcock’s part) Brandon and Phillip proceed in strangling their friend David to death with a rope. Stunned, but also thrilled by this action, they decide to further test their own feelings of superiority brought upon by their taking of a life, and hide his body in a chest, only hours before a dinner party hosted in their apartment.
Not only do they hide the man’s body in the chest, but they use it as a table for the buffet they serve their guests, and decide that the murder was performed because they could, and that their inevitable superiority would see them through the night and evade any suspicion. Through this they also manage to challenge their professor, Rupert Cadell, in a series of hypothetical conversations that allude to their acts, but never quite make the revelation of what occurred earlier.
James Stewart of course plays the professor who is invited and indulges the young men in their conversations of murder as an act of superiority and entitlement all the while guests walk in and out of the rooms serving dinner and playing piano, never the wiser.
“Rope” is still a gripping and utterly grueling practice in deception on Hitchcock’s part, and once again exemplifies Hitchcock’s superiority over us, and the sentiments that he runs the show, and we’re just his pawns. His explanation that the lead up to an explosion is much more harrowing than an explosion is proven with “Rope” being nothing more than lead up after lead up that works on a continuous level, with a fantastic final act that is all too reminiscent of something out of “”Sherlock Holmes.”
It’s my favorite film from Mr. Hitchcock, and one I never tire of watching.
Happy birthday Mr. Hitchcock, from another horror fanatic, and passionate movie lover your films conceived. You’re still the master.
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