Rope – Alfred Hitchcock, The plot

The plot in Rope is about Two brilliant young aesthetes, Brandon Shaw (Dall) and Phillip Morgan (Granger). They strangle a former classmate, David Kentley (Dick Hogan) to death in their flat. They commit the crime as an intellectual exercise, since they want to demonstration their supremacy by committing the “perfect murder”, which had already been portrayed in several other movies. However, Hitchcock added his own touch and made it unique through the “creative” editing and shooting.

After hiding the body in a large antique wooden chest, Brandon and Phillip host a dinner party at their place, which has a panoramic view of Manhattan’s skyline out the windows (zoomed in on several times, and used as a way to cut). The guests, who are uninformed of what has happened are the victim (David)’s father Mr. Kentley (Cedric Hardwicke) and his aunt Mrs. Atwater (Constance Collier), but his mother is not able to attend. In addition, his fiancée, Janet Walker (Joan Chandler) and her former lover Kenneth Lawrence (Douglas Dick), who once were David’s close friend.

A lot of the conversation during that night is about the absence of Kentley and as the evening plays out, David’s father and fiancée start worrying since he neither arrived nor contacted them. Brandon rises the tension by playing matchmaker between Janet and Kenneth. Mrs. Kentley calls from home, stressed because she has not heard from David for a long while, and Mr. Kentley chooses to leave their flat. He takes some books Brandon has given him, which are tied together with the rope Brandon, and Phillip used to strangle his son. Once again, this is just part of their act and game to prove superiority and cleverness, as they play with fire.

When Rupert tries to leave, Mrs. Wilson unintentionally hands him David’s hat, further arousing his suspicion. Rupert returns to the apartment a short while after everyone else has left, pretending that he has left his cigarette holder behind. He hides the holder, ask for a drink, and then stays to theorize about the vanishing David. He is of course encouraged by Brandon, who is eager to have Rupert realize what they have done. Phillip is unable to take the pressure anymore, throws a glass, and says, “Cat and mouse, cat and mouse. But which is the cat and which is the mouse?”

Rupert opens the chest and finds Kentleys dead inside. He is horrified but also embarrassed, understanding that Brandon and Phillip used his own pomposity to justify murder. Rupert disowns all his previous statements of superiority and inferiority, realizing that there is no way to define these concepts. He then picks up Brandon’s gun and fires several shots out the window into the beautiful Manhattan skyline in order to attract attention. Police sirens get louder, Rupert pulls up a chair next to the chest, and the film’s end credits appear on the screen.


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