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Wednesday, June 1, 2016
Alfred Hitchcock | Rope
a terrible event
by Douglas Messerli
Arthur Laurents (screenplay, based on a play by Patrick Hamilton, adapted by Hume Cronyn), Alfred Hitchcock (director) Rope / 1948
If, in hindsight, Hitchcock’s film seems remarkably innovative and amazingly “cool” about its sexual assertions, in 1948 it seemed only a mild statement of a willful murder—which wasn’t even a true “who-dunnit,” since we know the murderers from the first moment of the film—with audiences of the day unable to comprehend precisely where the director’s sentiments lay. Were the murderers simply monsters predisposed to their criminal acts, or was it something these bright students learned, their murder simply a lark based on their own blessed social and intellectual entitlements? Hitchcock, alas, seems unable to even to address these issues in Rope. Nonetheless, I’ll take the movie’s witty dialogue above any plodding social document, making these issues more apparent, any day.
Los Angeles, June 1, 2016.