John Dall, Farley Granger, James Stewart
Kenneth: Am I the first?
Brandon: You are.
Kenneth: Why is it I’m always too early to parties?
Brandon: Probably because you’re always on time.
Two men, Brandon (Dall) and Phillip (Granger), decide to commit a murder just to see if they can get away with it. Brandon is overly arrogant and schedules a dinner party with friends – including the girlfriend of the friend they murdered – immediately after they commit the crime. They even serve dinner off the large chest his body is hidden in. As a test of the perfection of their murder, Brandon also invites a former mentor of his, Rupert (Stewart), because he knows if anyone can figure out what they’ve done, it’s Rupert.
While this will not go down as one of my favorite Hitchcock films, it still has some good suspenseful moments and typical Hitchcock touches. It’s based on a play called “Rope’s End”, and Hitchcock shot it as though the camera was just following around the actors on a stage during a play. There’s a lot of long takes and tracking shots from room to room. Plus, the entire movie takes place essentially in only two rooms.
I didn’t think the acting in this film was quite as good as usual in Hitchcock’s films. Dall was ok as the overly arrogant Brandon Shaw, but Granger, as Phillip, seemed to go way over the top with his obvious guilt. Anybody could see that he was hiding something. That made it less impressive to me when Rupert started to figure out that something odd was up.
Still, Hitchcock manages to do one of his favorite things, and that’s to make us actually root for the villains, even if we don’t realize we’re doing it. By knowing that there’s a body in that chest they’re serving food from, you’re just wondering when somebody is finally going to discover it, and when it seems like somebody is about to open it, you can’t help but think, “oh no!” Then, you realize that you actually WANT these murderers to be found out.
This seems like sort of an experimental film for Hitchcock, using all the long takes and interesting camera work, but the plot isn’t really as compelling as many of his other films, and the dialogue isn’t quite as sharp as some others as well. Still, not a bad way to spend an hour and 20 minutes.
10 – 2 for a not so compelling story – 1 for some poor performances = 7.0