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Film Bulletin (13/Sep/1948) - What the Newspaper Critics Say About New Films: Rope





Alfred Hitchcock's "Rope," the suspense master's first for Warners and his initial experience with Technicolor, earned huzzas from the New York critics, with one notable exception, the Times' Bosley Crowther. While the others, generally, found Hitchcock's experimental stunt of continuous cinematography (there are no cuts or shifts from one scene to another) an "ingenious" device full of gruesome suspense. Mr. Crowther, merely found it growing increasingly "monotonous," finally ending in a "fizzle which is forecast almost from the start." The Times' critic also took personal objection to the "frightfully intense emphasis on the macabre."

Among the champions of Hitchcock's experiment in highly polished horror were Alton Cook, of the World-Telegram and the Star's Cecelia Ager. Lauding "Rope" as "one of his (Hitchcock's) most ingenious movie ideas." Cook predicts that audiences will be kept "in 80 minutes of concentrated dither, quiet-spoken, adult and intense excitement every moment of the way," capping it off with a truly great tribute — "Hitchcock at his best." Miss Ager accords it her double check ("Don't Miss"), pointing to the ad which reads, "Nothing ever held you like Alfred Hitchcock's Rope," and adding. "This time a movie ad does not exaggerate." She goes all-out with such phrases as "diabolically clever tour de force, a brilliant cinematic stunt, an ice-cold smash."

Not quite so enthusiastic, the Post's Irene Thirer admits "Frankly, we couldn't stomach if. Its demonstration of the erratic, the macabre, the sadistic, made us more than slightly ill physically." Then she adds, however. "There are a vast number of moviegoers who'll dote on this sort of sordid, psychopathic shocker" and grudgingly allows. "It's extremely well done for what it is."

In the Herald Tribune, Howard Barnes finds that Hitchcock, "with a superb movement of his Camera in a confined space, and a remarkable performance by James Stewart, has made a frightening melodrama" with "enough suspense and terror to satisfy the most exacting grand guignol enthusiast." He finds it "not one of his best, but it is the work of a master."

The Journal-American's Rose Pelswick pats Hitchcock on the back for making a "horror film that's packed with gruesome excitement and enormous suspense" without any of the "standard scare props." She calls it "an uncomfortably arresting psychological study" that "rivets audience attention."