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The Times (19/Nov/1948) - Mr. Hitchcock's new film: Rope

(c) The Times (19/Nov/1948)



The association of Mr. Patrick Hamilton and Mr. Alfred Hitchcock would seem to promise much, for both know how to play on the nerves and keep them taut.

A marriage of minds true in their affection for stories of suspense, on occasions of macabre suspense, and "Rope" proclaims its type in its title. Report had insisted that in his treatment of Mr. Hamilton’s play Mr. Hitchcock had evolved a new technique and had kept the camera continually recording the action, allowing it to flow into the lens, as it were, as from the stage it flows out to the auditorium.

"New" is perhaps the wrong word for a process which is, after all, little more than the straight, uninterrupted photographing of a stage play, but Rope — with its single set, its concentrated action, and its general respect for the unities — certainly commends itself to direction not perpetually anxious to show off the tricks of cutting and "montage" — and Mr. Hitchcock is justified in the event, although it is hard to understand, let alone justify, the violence he has done to the text. There is no temptation for the Technicolor camera to break out of the rich New York apartment in which Brandon (Mr. John Dall) and Philip (Mr. Farley Granger), echoing a famous American case, murder a friend for the aesthetic thrill and to prove their quality as supermen. It firmly establishes the chest in which they hide the body and which serves as a buffet for the party they subsequently give, but Mr. Hitchcock is too suble to keep it in the forefront of proceedings which end with an older friend (Mr. James Stewart) discovering the truth through his knowledge of Brandon’s mentality in the days when he was a schoolmaster and Brandon a boy. Mr. Stewart acts with a deceptive laziness which contrasts vividly with Mr. Dall’s neurotic intensity—intensity the more obvious the more it is disguised—and there are some moments of Miss Constance Collier’s inimitable brand of comedy.

Rope is at the Carlton Cinema.