Edit
Rope (1948) Poster

(1948)

Trivia

Since the filming times were so long, everybody on the set tried their best to avoid any mistakes. At one point in the movie, the camera dolly ran over and broke a cameraman's foot, but to keep filming, he was gagged and dragged off. Another time, a woman puts her glass down but misses the table. A stagehand had to rush up and catch it before the glass hit the ground. Both parts are used in the final cut.
Jump to: Director Cameo (1) | Director Trademark (2)
Alfred Hitchcock's first color film.
The film was shot in ten takes, ranging from four-and-a-half to just over ten minutes (the maximum amount of film that a camera magazine or projector reel could hold) duration. At the end of the takes, the film alternates between having the camera zoom into a dark object, totally blacking out the lens/screen, and making a conventional cut. However, the second edit, ostensibly one of the conventional ones, was clearly staged and shot to block the camera, but the all-black frames were left out of the final print. Most of the props, and even some of the apartment set's walls, were on casters and the crew had to wheel them out of the way and back into position as the camera moved around the set.
Although the film lasts about 80 minutes and is supposed to be in "real time", the time frame it covers is actually longer - a little more than 100 minutes. This is accomplished by speeding up the action: the formal dinner lasts only 20 minutes, the sun sets too quickly and so on. The September 2002 issue of Scientific American contains a complete analysis of this technique (and the effect it has on the viewers, who actually feel as if they watched a 100-minutes movie).
The film was unavailable for decades because its rights (together with four other pictures of the same period) were bought back by Alfred Hitchcock and left as part of his legacy to his daughter Patricia Hitchcock. They've been known for long as the infamous "5 lost Hitchcocks" amongst film buffs, and were re-released in theatres around 1984 after a 30-year absence. The others are Rear Window (1954), The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), The Trouble with Harry (1955), and Vertigo (1958).
The film was banned in a number of American cities because of the implied homosexuality of Phillip (Farley Granger) and Brandon (John Dall).
The picture was filmed entirely in-studio (except for the opening credits). The clouds that you see out the window are made out of fiberglass. For the effect of a police siren coming towards the apartment building at the end, Alfred Hitchcock had an ambulance come at full speed, from several blocks away, straight to the Warner Brothers studio, siren blaring all the way. The sounds were picked up by a microphone suspended from the studio gate.
Filmed January 12-February 21 1948. There are 10 shots within the film overall, running 9:34, 7:51, 7:18, 7:09, 9:59, 8:35, 7:50, 10:06, 4:37 and 5:40 minutes:seconds each.
This was the only movie James Stewart made with Alfred Hitchcock that he did not like. Stewart later admitted he felt he was badly miscast as the professor (he makes his first entrance 28 minutes into the film).
Story was very loosely based on the real-life murder committed by University of Chicago students Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, which was also the (fictionalized) subject of Compulsion (1959) and Swoon (1992).
David's name is mentioned several times throughout the film by most of the characters. They say his name a total of 73 times. The only character to never mention his name is Mrs Wilson.
Considered as Alfred Hitchcock's most controversial film when it was released in 1948. Several American theaters banned it upon release.
The screenwriter Arthur Laurents claimed that originally Alfred Hitchcock assured him the movie wouldn't show the opening murder itself, therefore creating doubt as to whether the two leading characters actually committed murder and whether the trunk had a corpse inside.
Alfred Hitchcock only managed to shoot roughly one segment per day. The last four or five segments had to be completely re-shot because Hitchcock wasn't happy with the color of the sunset.
Dick Hogan's cameo as the opening scene's murder victim, David Kentley, is his last appearance in a film.
The theatrical trailer features footage shot specifically for the advertisement that takes place before the beginning of the movie. David (the victim) sits on a park bench and speaks with Janet before leaving to meet Brandon and Phillip. James Stewart narrates the sequence, noting that's the last time Janet and the audience would see him alive.
Eleven years after being mentioned in Rope (1948) as making an excellent villain, James Mason was finally cast by Alfred Hitchcock as such in North by Northwest (1959).
Alfred Hitchcock's Rope (1948) is very different from Patrick Hamilton's play of the same name, although the basic plot is followed rather faithfully. Hitchcock made his own adaptation with Hume Cronyn and they created new dialogue and characters for their adaptation. In the play, there is no Janet Walker, no Mrs. Wilson, no Kenneth Lawrence, and no Mrs. Atwater. The play takes place in England. Brandon Shaw is Wyndham Brandon and Philip Morgan is Charles Granillo in the play. In the play, Rupert Cadell is only 29 years old and he is the current teacher of only Wyndham Brandon and Charles Granillo. In the film, Rupert looks like he is at least around the age of mid 40s. Rupert had been the teacher of Brandon Shaw, Philip Morgan, Kenneth Lawrence, and David Kentley. In the film, Rupert is currently a publisher.
Alfred Hitchcock's inspiration for the long takes came from a BBC Television broadcast of Rope (1939). The producer, Dallas Bower, decided on the technique in order to keep the murder chest constantly in shot.
During filming, the cast had to avoid tripping on cables that laid over the floor, because of the moving cameras and lighting.
Screenwriter Arthur Laurents claims that the actress that played the maid used to be treated like one by the other actors, while shooting.
Montgomery Clift was the original choice to play Brandon Shaw.
Alfred Hitchcock would later dismiss his experiment with 10 minute takes as being just a stunt.
Cary Grant was the first choice to play the role of the teacher, Rupert Cadell.
The star signs that Mrs. Atwater states for the movie actors she discusses are in each case correct: James Mason really was a Taurus, Cary Grant a Capricorn, and Ingrid Bergman a Virgo, just as she says.
Contrary to popular belief and Alfred Hitchcock's own claims in later interviews, there are several conventional edits during the movie: when Janet arrives at the party; when Phillip shouts "That's a lie!"; when Mrs. Wilson enters the room to announce the telephone call from David's mother; and when Brandon reaches into his pocket for his gun while Rupert narrates his theory on how the murder was committed. Some add the cut from the shot of the apartment's exterior (with the opening titles superimposed over it) to its interior at the beginning, but that one does not genuinely contradict the claim that the film is made to simulate a single continuous take any more than the cut to the end credits does.
Alfred Hitchcock made an opening romantic scene in Central Park with Joan Chandler (Janet Walker) and Dick Hogan (David Kentley). The scene was used for the 1948 promotional trailer but deleted in the film.
The apartment set showed up the following year, slightly re-furbished, in the Doris Day movie My Dream Is Yours (1949).
The play, originally entitled "Rope" when it premiered in London, was re-titled "Rope's End" when it went to Broadway. The Broadway play "Rope's End" opened on Sept. 19, 1929 at the Theatre Masque (now called the John Golden Theatre) and ran for 100 performances.
The apartment is supposedly located around Second Avenue and 54th street in NYC. The view out the window is looking to the West.
Screenwriter Arthur Laurents assures that in the original play, the character of Cadell (played by James Stewart) allegedly had an affair with one of the two murderers while in school.
Although Rope was based on the play by Patrick Hamilton, still it may have been also based on an incident that happened in Alfred Hitchcock's life. There was an assassination scene in Hitchcock's film Foreign Correspondent (1940), Hitchock heard that this assassination scene was copied in real life to kill someone at a place called Tarahan. This incident was mentioned by Alfred Hitchcock in Tomorrow Coast to Coast (1973).
With Hume Cronyn, Alfred Hitchcock made a very different Rupert Cadell for the film. In the play, Rupert Cadell is only 29 years old. Rupert Cadell in the play had an affair with one of his students. Rupert Cadell is the current teacher of only Wyndham Brandon (Brandon Shaw in the film) and Charles Granillo (Philip Morgan in the film) in the play. In the film, Rupert was the "past" teacher of Brandon Shaw, Philip Morgan, Kenneth Lawrence, and David Kentley. In the film, Rupert looks like he is at least in his mid 40s. In the film, Rupert is currently a publisher. In the film, Rupert Cadell has a romantic relationship with Mrs. Wilson. Rupert Cadell also has plans of marrying Mrs. Wilson in the future. But in the play, there is no Mrs. Wilson. Instead of Mrs. Wilson, there is a 35 year old french servant named Mr. Sabot.
Hitchcock's appearance in Rope is not in the opening credits when a guy is seen walking down the street with a woman. This guy is thinner than Hitch and doesn't even walk like him. But Hitch does appear as a flashing red neon outline in the background between characters Kenneth and Janet when they have a brief chat (time 54:41 - 55:19 if taken from the beginning of the film credits). The image is hard to see on regular video but is clearer on DVD.
French visa # 8281.

Director Cameo 

Alfred Hitchcock:  appears, though barely if at all recognizable, walking down the street during the opening credits. His profile also appears on a neon sign visible through the apartment window approximately 55 minutes into the movie. The neon sign advertises "Reduco," the same fictional weight-loss product that Hitchcock advertised in his famous newspaper ad cameo in Lifeboat (1944).

Director Trademark 

Alfred Hitchcock:  [long takes]  Before Hitchcock used long takes in this film, he used long takes in films like The Shame of Mary Boyle (1929) and Murder! (1930)
Alfred Hitchcock:  [Identifying with the killer]  Throughout the entire film, Brandon and Philip are at risk of exposure.

See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

Contribute to This Page