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.
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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.
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This movie was banned in several American cities because of the implied homosexuality of Phillip (Farley Granger) and Brandon (John Dall).
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This movie was unavailable for three decades because its rights (together with four other movies 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 a long time as the infamous "five lost Hitchcocks" amongst movie buffs, and were re-released in theaters around 1984 after a thirty-year absence. The others are Rear Window (1954), The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), The Trouble with Harry (1955), and Vertigo (1958).
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This was the only movie James Stewart made with Alfred Hitchcock that he did not like. Stewart later admitted he felt he was miscast as the professor (he makes his first entrance twenty-eight minutes into the movie).
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Filmed January 12 to February 21, 1948. There are ten shots within this movie overall, running 9:34, 7:51, 7:18, 7:09, 9:59, 8:35, 7:50, 10:06, 4:37, and 5:40 minutes and seconds each.
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This movie was shot in ten takes, ranging from four and a half minutes to just over ten minutes (the maximum amount of film that a camera magazine or projector reel could hold). At the end of the takes, the movie 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.
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This 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).
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Considered to be Alfred Hitchcock's most controversial movie when it was released in 1948. Several American theaters banned it upon release.
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Although this movie lasts one hour and twenty minutes, and is supposed to be in "real time", the time frame it covers is actually longer, a little more than one hour and forty minutes. This is accomplished by speeding up the action: the formal dinner lasts only twenty 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 one hour and forty minute movie).
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Eleven years after being mentioned in the film as making an excellent villain, James Mason was finally cast by Alfred Hitchcock as such in North by Northwest (1959).
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Screenwriter Arthur Laurents claimed that originally Alfred Hitchcock assured him the movie wouldn't show the opening murder, therefore creating doubt as to whether the two leading characters actually committed murder, and whether the trunk had a corpse inside.
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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.
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Alfred Hitchcock dismissed his experiment with ten-minute takes as being just a stunt.
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The Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman film of which Janet Walker and Mrs. Atwater are struggling to remember the title for Mr. Cadell is Notorious (1946), which was also directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
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James Stewart was paid $300,000, a huge portion of the $1.5 million budget.
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Because of the moving cameras and lighting, the cast had to be careful not to trip on cables during filming.
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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.
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Cary Grant was the first choice to play Rupert Cadell.
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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 from the movie.
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Screenwriter Arthur Laurents claims that the actress that played the maid was treated like one by the other actors and actresses while shooting.
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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.
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David's name is mentioned seventy-three times throughout the movie by most of the characters. The only character to never mention his name is Mrs. Wilson and, rather surprisingly, Philip.
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Final theatrical movie of Dick Hogan (David Kentley).
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Montgomery Clift was the original choice to play Brandon Shaw.
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The apartment set showed up the following year, slightly re-furbished, in the Doris Day movie My Dream Is Yours (1949).
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David appears longer in the trailer than he does in the final film. Said trailer features footage of the character shot exclusively for the trailer, that takes place before the movie.
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This movie is very different from Patrick Hamilton's play of the same name. Alfred 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 twenty-nine years old and he is the current teacher of only Wyndham Brandon and Charles Granillo. In this movie, Rupert looks like he is at least around the age of mid forties. Rupert had been the teacher of Brandon Shaw, Philip Morgan, Kenneth Lawrence, and David Kentley. In this movie, Rupert is currently a publisher.
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Douglas Dick (Kenneth) was the last surviving cast member of the film at the time of his death on December 19, 2015 at the age of 95.
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The apartment is supposedly located around Second Avenue and 54th Street in New York City. The view out the window is looking to the west.
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Average Shot Length: 435.7 Seconds.
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The Zodiac signs that Mrs. Atwater states for the movie actors and actresses she discusses are in each case correct: James Mason really was a Taurus, Cary Grant a Capricorn, and Ingrid Bergman a Virgo. Mrs. Atwater also identifies Phillip as a Cancer (Moon Child), which Farley Granger was in real life.
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The long takes actually give the film the feel of a live/"recorded as live" tv program or stage play, which would have been a relatively standard technique to preserve and timeshift live performances before the advent of video tape recording, and to preserve recordings via telerecordings, as video tapes were expensive to keep, and were re-used. In fact, this film may have also inspired the later styles of tv continual take recording, which had earlier inspired the very same film style.
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The play, originally titled "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 September 19, 1929 at the Theatre Masque (now called the John Golden Theatre) and ran for one hundred performances.
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In a Dick Cavett interview, Alfred Hitchcock seemed tired of answering the question on why he did the ten-minute takes, and his answer (through a bit of a sigh) was that it fit the framework of a stage play, and that it kept the actors active, like a play.
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Although this movie was based on the play by Patrick Hamilton, it may have been also based on an incident that happened instead in Alfred Hitchcock's life. There was an assassination scene in Foreign Correspondent (1940). Hitchock heard that this assassination scene was copied in real life to kill someone at a place called Tarahan around 1942. This incident was mentioned by Hitchcock in Tomorrow Coast to Coast (1973).
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With James Stewart, Alfred Hitchcock made a very different Rupert Cadell for this movie. In the play, Cadell is only 29 years old. In the play, Rupert had an affair with one of his students. Rupert is the teacher of only Wyndham Brandon (Brandon Shaw in the movie) and Charles Granillo (Philip Morgan in the movie) in the play. In the movie, Rupert was the "past" teacher of Brandon Shaw, Philip Morgan, Kenneth Lawrence, and David Kentley. In the movie, Rupert looks like he is at least in his mid-forties, is currently a publisher, has a romantic relationship with Mrs. Wilson, and has plans of marrying her in the future. In the play, there is no Mrs. Wilson. Instead of Mrs. Wilson, there is a 35-year-old French servant named Mr. Sabot.
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The cast includes one Oscar winner: James Stewart; and two Oscar nominees: Alfred Hitchcock and John Dall.
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The film was loosely based on Leopold and Loeb; and while Loeb died in jail, killed by another inmate, the system was less rough on Leopold. He was eventually let out for good behavior, married a widowed florist, "cured" himself and moved to Santurce, Puerto Rico.
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The young actors Dick Hogan, whose character David is murdered in the first minute, and Douglas Dick, who plays Kenneth, look very similar, which is even pointed out in the movie by the David's father.
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Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
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This is the only pre-1950 Warner Bros. movie not acquired by MGM, then Turner and later back to Warner Bros, but rather by Alfred Hitchcock himself and then sold to Universal by his daughter, Patricia in the early 1980's after his death.
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Theatrically released in the USA with Hare Splitter (1948) as the preceding cartoon.
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Each one of the four men wears a different color suit.
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Two of the books that Phillip (Farley Granger) moves around are "Audubon" by Constance Rourke, published in 1937, and "The Complete Life" by John Erskine, published in 1943.
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At the 21:36 mark, the character of Janet is asked about her new job. She says she's writing the same dreary column on how to keep the body beautiful for an "untidy little magazine known as Allure;" which at the time was a fictional magazine. However 43 years later in 1991 a magazine named Allure debuted which focused on fashion, beauty and women's health.
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This is one of three Alfred Hitchcock films in which two characters plot to commit the perfect murder. One is Strangers on a Train (1951). The other being Dial M for Murder (1954). In Shadow of a Doubt (1943), Joseph Newton and his friend Herbie Hawkins discuss foolproof ways to commit a murder, but neither is serious about carrying it out.
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Over the course of the film we eventually see all four sides of the apartment, and get a better idea of where the chest is located in the geography.
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In March 2020, TCM Movies showed a version of this that was retro-fitted with a version of the usual "Universal - a Comcast company" animation. The logo then cuts to the original Warner Bros. logo as it appears in the original release.
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Final film of Joan Chandler.
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The character of Brandon is referred to twice as "Mr. Brandon" and all other times as just "Brandon." In the play this movie was based on, "Brandon" was a surname. In the film it's used as a first name, except for the two exceptions noted.
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Included among the American Film Institute's 2001 list of 400 movies nominated for the top 100 Most Heart-Pounding American Movies.
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The names of every character from the play (except Rupert Cadell) were changed for the movie. In the movie, Brandon Shaw's name comes from the last name of his play version, Wyndham Brandon, and the last name of his theater actor, Sebastian Shaw.
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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 fifty-five 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).
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This movie 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.
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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 this movie was made to simulate a single continuous take any more than the cut to the end credits does.
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At the end of the movie, Rupert tells Brandon how Brandon gave his words a meaning that he never dreamed of, and how Brandon tried to twist them into a cold, logical excuse for his ugly murder. Rupert goes on to say that there must have been something deep inside Brandon from the very start that let him do this thing, but there's always been something deep inside Rupert that would never let him do it. This is interesting to note, because when Rupert tells that he is going to open the chest, Brandon tells Rupert: "This has nothing to do with you." Brandon also tells Rupert: "You often pick words for sound rather than meaning."
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