The gimmick works surprisingly well. The script is tight and it is this that drives the suspense. Within the limitations of his ten or so shots, Hitchcock manages to move his camera to underline the tension with a surprisingly fluidity. The film becomes a small masterpiece of choreography in particular, there is a beautiful set-up at the end where James Stewart reenacts the murder and the camera moves in and out of closeup following all the actions.
Hitchcocks dark obsessions lie underneath the film in ways that were far more out there than any other thriller of the era. It is these that make Rope of considerable interest to the psycho genre. Unlike many of the other thrillers and film noirs of the era, the plot does not concern itself with the whodunnit aspect and the usual suspense unveilings. Rather Hitchcock is interested in getting inside the perverse psychology and motivation of the characters. The films study of decadent morality, full of Nietzschean philosophical justifications, is particularly fascinating. The central premise where the students murder someone, hold a dinner party for his family using the chest that contains the body as a table and even wrapping some books for the victims father in the titular murder weapon, holds a wonderfully ghoulish perversity.
There is even the suggestion that the two students are gay, which was daring for the time the film was made. Rope is loosely derived from the notorious true-life Loeb-Leopold killings in Chicago in 1924 wherein homosexual lovers Nathan Leopold Jr and Richard Loeb, both university students, stabbed fourteen-year-old Bobbie Franks with a chisel and dumped acid over the body, all acting according to Nietzschean theories of moral superiority. The Leopold-Loeb story has also inspired several other films see also Compulsion (1959) and Swoon (1992). This is something that Hitchcock is not unaware of and even plays into, casting Farley Granger, who was one Hollywoods few reasonably openly gay actors of the era, as one of the killers, while in a perverse turn the script for the film is written by Arthur Laurents who was Grangers live-in lover at the time.
There is some good acting, particularly from John Dall who plays with an arrogant sneer, delighting in the game and refusing to even give in in the end. On the other hand, Farley Grangers obvious twitching paves the way to his cracking all too clearly from the outset. James Stewart appears in the first of several roles for Hitchcock. There is a relative surprise, when one is used to his typical lazily rambling performances, of seeing Stewart play with a keen alertness.
Alfred Hitchcocks other films of genre interest are: The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (1926), Elstree Calling (1930), Shadow of a Doubt (1943), Strangers on a Train (1951), Vertigo (1958), Psycho (1960), The Birds (1963) and Frenzy (1972). Hitchcock also produced, introduced and occasionally directed the anthology series Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955-62). Hitchcocks life is depicted in the films The Girl (2012) and Hitchcock (2012).