Browse all reviews by letter     A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0 - 9

USA 1948
Directed by
Alfred Hitchcock
80 minutes
Rated G

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2 stars


A one-act play by Patrick Hamilton called “Rope’s End”, itself based on a real incident was the basis for Hitchcock's first colour film, a story about two rich-kid college students (Farley Granger and John Dall) who inspired by Friedrich Nietzsche’s philosophy of overcoming, kill another student for the thrill of it, then hide the body in an antique chest in the middle of their apartment, then arrange a dinner party around the chest, inviting the victim's family, friends and fiancee (Joan Chandler), as well as their well-intentioned  professor (James Stewart) who they bait with their real-life application of philosophical theory.

Staged in real time and shot as a single scene in 10 minute takes (the maximum length of film that the camera was able to hold) seamlessly matched together, the idea was to give the film a natural fluidity. Despite its intriguing conceit, and revelatory of the psychology of film-watching, the effect is, if anything, exactly the opposite and it is generally regarded as an error of judgement by the master, despite the quality of the script, acting and the characteristic Hitchcockian stylistics.

The film is now notable principally for the overtly but undeclared homosexual relationship between the thrill-killers, something that caused quite a bit of talk in its day, ladies' man Cary Grant having turned down the role eventually taken by Stewart because of it.




Want something different?

random vintage best worst