Rope (1948)

(On DVD, December 2006) Any Hitchcock film is now regarded with respect, but even on its own, this cleverly-made thriller would be worth a look. The first and most obvious distinction of the film is how it’s conceived as a filmed play with a minimal amount of cuts: The lengthy segments lend an air of sustained tension to the storytelling, showcasing the skill of the actors. But beyond the surface, there’s a lot of subtext to the piece, whether it’s the references to the Leopold/Leob case, or the heavy allusions to homosexuality. James Stewart unfortunately looks like a boy-scout in the middle of all this, but his reassuring presence makes up for his lack of emotional involvement in the story. The technical fascination of the film’s making-of only adds to the interest of the film itself, making for a viewing experience that will reward viewers even sixty years later. Among other questions raised by the film is this one: Why hasn’t this type of film-making been attempted more often since, aside from oddities such as Mike Figgis’ Timecode?

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