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Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

United States 1948 80 mins. In English

The first Technicolor film of Hitchcock’s career (to be followed by such masterpieces as Vertigo and North by Northwest), Rope is a taut, icy thriller—made ostensibly in a single shot—based on the Leopold and Loeb murder of 1924, in which two upper-crust young men sought to commit the “perfect crime.” Brandon (John Dall) and Phillip (Farley Granger) form the blue-blooded, nefarious duo in Hitch’s version; the pair set up a morbid dinner party at their Manhattan high-rise apartment, going so far as to serve food from atop the chest in which they’ve hidden the corpse. Guests include the unknowing family of their victim and their former college professor Rupert Caldwell (James Stewart), who once preached Nietzsche’s theory of the Übermensch to his impressionable students. Brandon in particular is happy to ratchet up the tension in the room at any opportunity, whereas Phillip is all jitters and twitches, leading to a gripping climax in which Rupert abandons his previous theories of social superiority in favor of classic Jimmy Stewart justice. Rope is one of the least heralded, strangest pictures of Hitchcock’s career, but all the more fascinating for the formal techniques and typically loaded psychology at play. “Not exactly a picture to warm your heart, take your mom to or make out by…so chilly you could ice champagne in it or place it around a silver serving dish of fresh caviar.”—Vincent Canby, The New York Times.