By Yasmina Tawil
“Rope was an interesting technical experiment that I was lucky and happy to be a part of, but I don’t think it was one of Hitchcock’s better films.” So wrote Farley Granger, one of its two stars, in his memoir Include Me Out. The actor was in his early twenties when the Master of Suspense plucked him from Samuel Goldwyn’s roster. He’d star in the first production from the director’s new Transatlantic Pictures as Phillip Morgan, a pianist and co-conspirator in murder. John Dall would play his partner, homicidal mastermind Brandon Shaw. Granger had the stiff pout to Dall’s trembling smirk.
The “interesting technical experiment” was Hitchcock’s decision to shoot the film, adapted from a twenty-year-old English play, as a series of 10-minute shots stitched together into a simulated feature-length take. This allowed him to retain the stage’s spatial and temporal unities while guiding the audience with the camera’s eye. In the process, he’d embed a host of meta-textual and erotic nuances within the sinister mise-en-scène.