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on May 18, 2004
"Rope" debuted in theaters in August of 1948, and represented the first movie shot in COLOR by Director Alfred Hitchcock.
James Stewart, Farley Granger, and John Dall are the stars here, with Stewart (as always) giving a flawless, effortless-looking performance. I really liked all the character portrayals in this film. Murderers Granger and Dall exhibit just the right mix of "Will we get caught?" angst and the cockiness and sheer gall of those that murder simply for the sport of it.
Although not one of the "higher profile" Alfred Hitchcock entries, I think "Rope" is, in fact, one of his better films. It's certainly unique, style-wise, being filmed in ten-minute, continuous takes, giving it a "seamless" uninterrupted look.
There has been much talk about the supposed "homosexual overtones" between the two murderers in "Rope". Now while I know this to be the director's intention, if I hadn't read about it after seeing the movie, I would never have thought those two male characters were supposed to be homosexual. In my view, *nothing* that is said or done in the film particularly points to this conclusion. I suppose it's designed to be there, but "just beneath the surface". But, I looked at the two killers as merely being close friends. I don't really know why the sexual orientation subject even has to enter into it. And, really, it *doesn't*.
"Rope" is unique in another fashion as well -- Hitchcock's "cameo". Unique because we get not one, but TWO, "Hitch" cameos in this picture. Right after the opening credits, we see Alfred walking on the sidewalk below. With cameo appearance #2 (which was originally intended to be his lone cameo) coming 55 minutes into the fairly-short 80-minute film. This second cameo is not of Hitchcock "in the flesh". Instead, the director inserted the image of a flashing neon sign outside one of the windows of the apartment. This sign depicts the famous Hitchcock "profile". A very inventive cameo indeed (rivaling his "newspaper" appearance in "Lifeboat" for the most creative, IMO).
As with a much-later Hitchcock picture, "The Birds", "Rope" has no music score to aid the story and move it along (save the opening theme music and the piano-playing of Farley Granger's character). An entire movie void of music is something that I don't imagine too many directors could pull off. But Hitchcock, in "Rope" and "The Birds" (which was fifteen years later), did it quite successfully.
This Universal single-disc DVD offers up a fine-looking and very clear Full Frame picture (1.33:1 aspect ratio). Colors do look a tad dated, though. But, overall, "Rope" looks excellent here! The soundtrack on the disc is in Mono (Dolby Digital 2.0).
The disc's Menu system is simplistic and easy to use (which is OK by me). When the Main Menu is on screen, the theme from Hitch's TV series, "Alfred Hitchcock Presents", plays. This is nice, but I wonder why they didn't use the "Rope" opening theme music for the Menu?
Although not officially labelled as one of Universal's "Collector's Editions", this "Rope" DVD could very well have been so designated. This disc has very nearly as many Special Features as the other Hitchcock "Collector's" packages. Here's a gander at the "Rope" bonus supplements .................
>> A 32-minute documentary, "Rope Unleashed", covering the making of this motion picture. Included here is an interview with actor/writer Hume Cronyn, who collaborated on the "Rope" screenplay. Sadly, not too very long after filming the interview for this DVD, Mr. Cronyn passed away, in June 2003. Many backstage pictures are mixed in with the interview segments, including some eye-opening pics of the color camera equipment of the era. Color cameras during those days were more than "bulky" -- those babies were humongous! And via some still photos we can see just how cumbersome those cameras were, circa 1948.
>> The Original Theatrical Trailer for "Rope". -- I absolutely love this unique trailer. It really (in a way) serves as a "deleted scene" from the movie. And shows us the film's murder victim ("David Kentley") before he falls prey to his killers' rope. The trailer has David (played by Dick Hogan) and his fiancee, Janet (Joan Chandler), sitting on a park bench, talking about their upcoming engagement. It's just a short scene, but sets up some of the plot points very nicely in just a few seconds. After David kisses his betrothed and leaves the park, this becomes more of a "conventional" trailer, with star Jimmy Stewart appearing on camera to narrate. Video quality for this color trailer is a bit splotchy and blurry in places, but still certainly in watchable condition. I think the introduction of the murder victim in this "added" scene was a very clever idea by the filmmakers. Trailer length = 2:25.
>> A very nice Photo Gallery (which has many behind-the-camera images).
>> Some text screens with film notes and cast bios. (There's a kind of funny little mistake in the DVD's bio of John Dall. Dall's character is referred to as "Shaw Brandon" on the text screen, instead of the correct name, "Brandon Shaw".)
Alfred Hitchcock directed more than 50 films -- with "Rope", his first venture into the world of "Technicolor", resting among my personal "Top 10 Hitch Flicks". This Universal Home Video DVD comes recommended by this Hitchcock enthusiast.
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The scariest kind of murder is not the murder of passion, or even cold-blooded greed -- it's the murder that is committed for its own sake.

And such a murder is the center of "Rope," one of Alfred Hitchcock's more experimental movies. Based on the real-life murder committed by Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, nearly the entire movie takes place in real time in a single room. Most impressively, there are only a few cuts, allowing the camera to wander through the story as if an invisible man was observing everything.

The story begins with murder -- a young man named David is strangled by his former classmates, law students Brandon Shaw (John Dall) and Phillip Morgan (Farley Granger). Then they stuff his corpse in a big wooden chest. Brandon wants to commit the "perfect" murder that proves their intellectual superiority, and as superior beings they are exempt from the morals that govern society -- an idea he got from his former teacher, Rupert (James Stewart).

They plan to dump the body in a lake later that evening, but first Brandon wants to put the final perverse "artistic" flourish -- he's going to host a dinner party, with the corpse-containing chest used as a buffet. Even worse, the guests include David's father and aunt, Rupert, David's fiancee, Janet Walker (Joan Chandler) and her ex-boyfriend Kenneth (Douglas Dick).

But as the evening goes on, the guests begin to worry when David doesn't show up, and Rupert begins to suspect that something weird is going on. An increasingly hysterical Phillip begins to unravel out of fear that their "artistic" murder will be found out, and a confrontation between the three men becomes inevitable.

Reportedly Alfred Hitchcock was not entirely satisfied with "Rope," considering it an experiment that didn't quite succeed. Frankly, I find it a fascinating piece of work, both artistically and thematically -- how often do you see a movie where the camera simply pans quietly through the room, focusing on different people and conversations as it goes? And yes, it's in real time.

In fact, at some points it stops feeling like a MOVIE, and more like you're an invisible person standing in the room observing everything silently. Or perhaps, since it takes place mostly in one room, it's more like watching a play where you can wander onstage among the actors.

It's also rather experimental in its chilling theme. Most people have expressed some sort of radical, cruel views in the past, but here Hitchcock asks what would happen if someone actually took those views to heart? And the scariest part is this is based in reality -- Leopold and Loeb truly believed themselves to be Übermenschen.

So Hitchcock amps up the suspense and horror as the unwitting people circle around the corpse, eating food from atop his unofficial coffin and worrying about his absence. One of the most intense scenes is Rupert casually discussing how he supports murder of "inferior" people... and the whole time, you're acutely aware that his students have actually put this into practice. It leads to a beautifully harrowing scene when Rupert realizes the monsters he has helped create through his own careless insensitivity.

It also has main characters that you can't really feel any sympathy for. Brandon is one of the most repulsive characters you could ever find -- a cheery, casual psychopath who toys with David's loved ones for his own sadistic amusement. Phillip, on the other hand, is a neurotic wimp who is too weak to say "no" to his boyfriend, even about murder. Grange and Dahl are absolutely amazing in their roles, and they really elicit your loathing for the characters they play.

However, there is one flaw: James Stewart. Stewart was one of the greatest actors in Hollywood, but here he's woefully miscast -- he seems uncomfortable with playing a casually cruel academic who doesn't seem to "get" the implications of his theories, so often Rupert sounds like he's joking when he isn't. Stewart is brilliant when he turns on the intensity, but he doesn't do it often enough.

It's a sharp deviation from Hitchcock's "typical" style, but "Rope is a horrifyingly effective experience anyway -- chilling, odd and strangely "real." The only problem is Stewart's casting.
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on April 20, 2007
"Rope", a film based on a play and directed by Alfred Hitchcock, is a well-made thriller that entertains the spectator, but that is far from being perfect.

I must say that the story is original, and that the beginning is quite shocking. The two main characters are Brandon and Philip (John Dall and Farley Granger), two young men that commit a crime just to see if they can get away with murder. As if killing another man weren't enough, they decide to tempt fate, hiding the body in a trunk, where it could easily be discovered, and inviting some people to dinner. Their guests include, among others, the victim's parents, his girlfriend and an old schoolteacher that gets increasingly suspicious regarding Brandon and Philip's actions. The schoolteacher (James Stewart) doesn't know exactly what they did, but is certain that something is wrong, very wrong. And of course, he cannot understand why Philip keeps looking at the trunk that is used as a buffet table...

On the whole, I can say that I liked "Rope", even though I wouldn't be overly eager to watch it again. From my point of view, you will also enjoy this whodunnit, specially if you are fond of Hitchcock movies, and don't mind the fact that albeit good, this is not one of his best films.

Belen Alcat

PS: I give "Rope" 3.5 stars...
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on July 14, 2004
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Format: Color
Studio: Universal Studios
Video Release Date: May 23, 1995
Cast:
James Stewart ... Rupert Cadell
John Dall ... Brandon Shaw
Farley Granger ... Phillip Morgan
Cedric Hardwicke ... Mr. Kentley
Constance Collier ... Mrs. Atwater
Douglas Dick ... Kenneth Lawrence
Edith Evanson ... Mrs. Wilson
Dick Hogan ... David Kentley
Joan Chandler ... Janet Walker
Alfred Hitchcock ... Man walking in street after opening credits
The Three Suns ... Group cast appearance (radio sequence)
Two young men decide to kill a friend for kicks. ala Leopold and Loeb, because one of them, Brandon Shaw (John Dall) thinks he is a superior human being, and above the rules, and the victim is inferior and therefore fair game. He quotes a former professor, Rupert Cadell (James Stewart) who has verbalized such a proposition in class.

They do, indeed, strangle the other young man, David Kentley (Dick Hogan), place his body in a trunk, and then throw a party to which they invite Bentley's parents, his girl friend, Prof. Cadell and others, and serve food and drinks from the trunk in which the body lies. Cadell, a bright man, realizes that something funny is going on and investigates.

This is an entertaining movie. Hitchcock. the director, admitted that he made the film on a lark, and that it was not a serious endeavor, but given his genius it came out very well anyway. It rates 4 stars with me, at least.

Joseph (Joe) Pierre

author of Handguns and Freedom...their care and maintenance
and other books
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon June 13, 2012
Two pompous young men (John Dall, Farley Granger) commit a murder just for the thrill and satisfaction of pulling off the perfect crime. They hide the body in their living room and then host a cocktail party as if nothing happened. But one guest, their old prep school house master (James Stewart), is suspicious right from the start.

Hitchcock wanted to experiment in filming longer takes, up to ten minutes long, rather than the typical take of just a few seconds. It makes the movie look like a staged play, with the story taking place in just one room, no action, and a lot of talking. James Stewart goes against his usual nice-guy persona to play a cynical and sarcastic man who thinks he knows more than everyone else. He's not likable and that detracts from the story. Dall is charismatic and frightening as the more confident of the killers but Granger's weakling character is too highly-strung, too obviously guilty right from the start. Some subtlety was called for and is missing. All of the supporting actors overact throughout with the exception of Cedric Hardwicke, who is wonderful as a concerned party guest.

The dialogue is too perfect and stagy with everyone taking turns speaking politely and with perfectly measured wit; no one interrupts or pauses. It's not at all realistic. There's never any doubt that the killers will be discovered which eliminates any possible tension or excitement; there is no hero to root for and the villains are too loony to care about. Not one of Hitchcock's better movies.
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on January 10, 2004
I don't mind what Hitchcock himself thought later of the film, or how did it fare at the time it was released. The fact remains that it, seen in a big screen and in an appropiate environment it is admirable and a little scary.
The technique used (and the fact that technicolor was used) makes that you feel yourself in the apartment, what, considering that a crude murder is performed at the beginning, is somewhat disturbing. The most impressive performance is that of John Dall (as Brandon Shaw), and the girl, Joan Chandler, is also extraordinary. So is Sir Cedric Hardwicke, in a contemporary paternal role (no shakespearian trimmings). Of course, James Stewart is rather miscast. A more somber senior actor should be used, the kind of James Mason or Charles Boyer.
In the interview, Arthur Laurents seems bent on the idea that this is a homosexual picture, or that homosexuality is its underlying matter. It is true that Brandon and Phillip (John Dall and Farley Granger) work in fact as a couple, and a special relationship between them is sensed. But nothing is explicitly said, on the contrary, Brandon Shaw counts himself as one of the former "romances" of the girl (Joan Chandler).
The unfortunate fact is that from time to time, someone has tried murder as an experience, for the thrill of it, and the play from which the film comes (Patrick Hamilton's) was inspired by the Loeb and Leopold case, back in the twenties, who where exactly as the characters in the film, a homosexual couple, proud and arrogant of their imagined "superiority" and who killed a friend (?) in order to have a smashing experience.
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on October 23, 2003
If, deception, and suspense intrigues you, then Alfred Hitchcock's film Rope is your movie. Its about two young men who murder there prep school mate. They try to show there intelligence and superiority by inviting David's closest friends and family over for a party. The guests are unaware that David's dead body is right under their nose.
This film is one of the most boring films I have ever watched. The plot takes place in a lavish penthouse where two school mates, Brandon (Dall) and Phillip (granger) who plan out this murder, strangling their classmate David with a rope. Brandon feels there superior to David and that murder is an art when done right. Through out the film they invite David's close family over, fooling them on David's where about, so they think. Rupert (Stewart) who inspired the two men to do this, tries piecing together the missing David. This film being classified as a thriller is a joke. Britney Spears film Crossroads was as much as a thriller as Rope. Sense the viewers already know who killed who; they have to sit through eighty minutes of hell, knowing they're going to get caught.
The acting in this film was mediocre. John Dall (Brandon) did a good job on portraying an arrogant young man on top of the world. He was so cocky with his sly remarks about David, to the others at the party, that I hoped he got caught. Farley Granger (Phillip) also did a good job portraying a weak minded person who gets pushed around by his friends. Another actor who did an above average job on his character was James Stewart (Rupert). He was the enlightening teacher who thinks his views have meaning and importance. As for the rest of the cast, I thought there performances were appalling. Constance Collier (Mrs. Atwater) was horrible. She looked like she was trying to hard, and I think a five year-old could have acted better then her. Joan Chandler (Janet) had her weaker points. Her character seemed like an air head, and she didn't fit the part right.
After seeing other films Alfred Hitchcock films, like Psycho and The Birds, this film is a toss up with The Birds as one of the worst films I have watched. I would rather been put through the Chinese torches then sit through it, let alone watch the entire thing. An aspect of the film that mad e it seem boring and pulled along was that there was only one setting for the entire film. This made it hard to pay attention and made the film seem quite dull. Another negative attribute was that the film did not feel like a thriller because there was no action since the entire film was in one confined area.
Throughout Hitchcock's film career, he has put together many masterpieces and classic film that people look back on still to this day. He is full of surprises in his films, bring never before seen work to his film era; well Rope should have never been seen. This film drags on for eighty minutes, pulling horrible acting and camera work along with it. I would chop my two thumbs off, rather then use energy to point them down. Unless film viewers are looking for something to fall asleep to, I strongly suggest not watching the film Rope!
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on October 23, 2003
Rope Not So Hot
Alfred Hitchcock's 1948 movie, "Rope," lacks anything to make it appealing. After watching this mind-numbing film, I would have to say its not a movie anyone would want to fritter $6 to go see at the theatre. This dull movie is set in an apartment complex. In this film, the main characters are Brandon, Phillip, David, and Rupert. Hitchcock's main idea in this motion picture was to have Brandon and Phillip attempt a planned out stunt murder on one of their close friends just for the thrill of it. There wasn't an exact reason why they committed the murder on David but they just wanted to prove to themselves how nicely they planned out the murder and how everything worked out so smoothly as planned, showing their intellectual superiority. After the murder, Brandon and Phillip decide to celebrate their success by having a party in their apartment. They invite guests to their party as though they think they haven't got in enough trouble as it is.
The setting in this film takes place in an apartment. Throughout the whole movie, the setting does not change at all. It is boring and the only place that the characters go is from one room to another in the apartment. There isn't much to look forward to, and the audience feels confined.
The plot in this film wasn't anything too special. The whole murder act could have been unmistakably performed and settled without all the other things that happen throughout the film. To the viewers, many may think of Brandon and Phillip's murder as being stupid. Who would honestly set up a party after their murder to celebrate what they have done? If that isn't bad enough, why would anyone keep the dead body in the apartment and not get rid of it? Not only did they keep it in the chest in the apartment, they even put David's body in the chest and use the chest as the serving table.
The after-murder party was positively a good way to assist Hitchcock's film hold it's high suspense. Brandon's decision to hide David's body into a chest increases the movie's suspense. Not only did he place the dead body in the chest, he uses the chest as a serving table for food during the party. Besides that, the film really gets going when the maid decides to clean up after the party is over. She clears off the food on the chest and is about to store some books back into the chest, where they belong. Brandon stops her from opening it and grabs the books away from her. As the party eventually ends everyone grabs their coats and hats. Rupert is handed David's hat by mistake and his initials are inside of it. Throughout the entire party everyone was wondering where David could be, and with Rupert finding the hat, it really kept the suspense building at this point of the movie.
As for the acting in this film, the characters did a fine job portraying their characters. John Dall, who played as Brandon, did a good job as the lead and chief of the murder. He tries to keep Phillip from ruining their perfect murder. Phillip is so frightened and nervous that he eventually spills the beans. Rupert little by little comes suspicious and was wonders what could ever happen to David. Joan Chandler as Janet played a good part in the film also. She was one of the few that were more worried about David's disappearance. Her sadness towards David's absence causes many of the guests at the party to be more concerned and cautious.
Overall I think this movie is one of Hitchcock's worst. The setting is boring and does not seem to move onto anywhere. The plot is okay when it comes to the perfect murder gone wrong, however the suspense throughout the movie gets better as the movie progresses. The characters played a good role as whom they were which helped out the film. This movie would be worth going to if you have nothing else to do and if you want to waste time. The setting and the whole plot line weren't too great. It was definitely not one of Hitchcock's classics.
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on October 23, 2003
Alfred Hitchcock's 1948 movie, "Rope," lacks anything to make it appealing. After watching this mind-numbing film, I would have to say its not a movie anyone would want to fritter $6 to go see at the theatre. This dull movie is set in an apartment complex. In this film, the main characters are Brandon, Phillip, David, and Rupert. Hitchcock's main idea in this motion picture was to have Brandon and Phillip attempt a planned out stunt murder on one of their close friends just for the thrill of it. There wasn't an exact reason why they committed the murder on David but they just wanted to prove to themselves how nicely they planned out the murder and how everything worked out so smoothly as planned, showing their intellectual superiority. After the murder, Brandon and Phillip decide to celebrate their success by having a party in their apartment. They invite guests to their party as though they think they haven't got in enough trouble as it is.
The setting in this film takes place in an apartment. Throughout the whole movie, the setting does not change at all. It is boring and the only place that the characters go is from one room to another in the apartment. There isn't much to look forward to, and the audience feels confined.
The plot in this film wasn't anything too special. The whole murder act could have been unmistakably performed and settled without all the other things that happen throughout the film. To the viewers, many may think of Brandon and Phillip's murder as being stupid. Who would honestly set up a party after their murder to celebrate what they have done? If that isn't bad enough, why would anyone keep the dead body in the apartment and not get rid of it? Not only did they keep it in the chest in the apartment, they even put David's body in the chest and use the chest as the serving table.
The after-murder party was positively a good way to assist Hitchcock's film hold it's high suspense. Brandon's decision to hide David's body into a chest increases the movie's suspense. Not only did he place the dead body in the chest, he uses the chest as a serving table for food during the party. Besides that, the film really gets going when the maid decides to clean up after the party is over. She clears off the food on the chest and is about to store some books back into the chest, where they belong. Brandon stops her from opening it and grabs the books away from her. As the party eventually ends everyone grabs their coats and hats. Rupert is handed David's hat by mistake and his initials are inside of it. Throughout the entire party everyone was wondering where David could be, and with Rupert finding the hat, it really kept the suspense building at this point of the movie.
As for the acting in this film, the characters did a fine job portraying their characters. John Dall, who played as Brandon, did a good job as the lead and chief of the murder. He tries to keep Phillip from ruining their perfect murder. Phillip is so frightened and nervous that he eventually spills the beans. Rupert little by little comes suspicious and was wonders what could ever happen to David. Joan Chandler as Janet played a good part in the film also. She was one of the few that were more worried about David's disappearance. Her sadness towards David's absence causes many of the guests at the party to be more concerned and cautious.
Overall I think this movie is one of Hitchcock's worst. The setting is boring and does not seem to move onto anywhere. The plot is okay when it comes to the perfect murder gone wrong, however the suspense throughout the movie gets better as the movie progresses. The characters played a good role as whom they were which helped out the film. This movie would be worth going to if you have nothing else to do and if you want to waste time. The setting and the whole plot line weren't too great. It was definitely not one of Hitchcock's classics.
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on October 23, 2003
Alfred Hitchcock's Rope was not your typical thriller. Brandon and Philip, played by John Dall and Farley Granger, committed the murder of a colleague, David in the opening scenes of the film. From that point on, they battled throughout the scenes with their emotions stemming from their tragic acts. Brandon's demeanor showed how proud he was of the perfect murder they had committed. It seemed as if the only reason for committing the crime was strictly out of the thrill of getting away with it. Brandon and Philip appeared to have very complex minds behind their reasoning for this murder which was simply out of their feeling of superiority to David. After completing this insane experiment Brandon and Philip threw a small party with David's family and close friends as guests. Not only that, but Brandon insisted on serving dinner from the chest where David's deceased body lay. This film shows some very "twisted" behavior but portrays it very well.
Rope would have been better developed as a play because of the single setting throughout the whole film. However, the characters developed their personalities well. Brandon, the confident one, went as far as telling a story of strangling a chicken, a story which hit too close to home. Upon hearing the story, Philip became even more nervous - a state which grew over the rest of the evening. At one point his agitation caused him to go as far as breaking a martini glass. The blood on his hand only attracted more attention to him because of his guilty conscience. Throughout the whole film, Philip was very sure they would be caught, especially when Rupert, one of the guests at the party, (played by James Stewart) seemed to be catching on to something strange taking place. Rupert kept quizzing Philip concerning the relationship of David and Janet, his fiancé, subtly trying to get information on David's whereabouts. As the night went on, Rupert began to thread together the behavior of his hosts into a horrific meaning. Philip kept pouring down the drinks to attempt to calm his nerves.
I thought the camera's point of view was strange for a film. It was as if it was someone in the audience of a play or just an observer at the party, which took place in the living room at Brandon and Philip's apartment. I also picked up on the ten minute reel changes. After every ten minute segment, Hitchcock focused in on a dark spot of that particular scene; sometimes the back of an actor's shirt or on a book. Showing a dark picture every ten minutes got somewhat tedious and annoying, it also came at some very awkward times. Despite all of these things there was a great deal of suspense throughout the film. This was a nice surprise especially considering the murder had already taken place.
All in all the actors portrayed their characters very well. From the murderers; Brandon and Philip, to the worried relatives of David, each character's emotions were well developed. Perhaps it was a mistake to have Rupert as a guest at the party; he seemed to be the only guest that was catching on. He put together the significance of the chicken story; he noticed the abnormal behavior of Philip and was very curious as to why dinner was served from the chest. Either way, with or without Rupert in attendance, Brandon and Philip were willing to take the risk.
Although I believe this thriller would have been better as a stage play, the suspense keeps the audience interested. It is not until the dinner party was over that the verdict came out. Throughout the entire film, questions arose from all angles including from Rupert, Mrs. Wilson, David's father and the audience: 'Where is David? Will Brandon and Philip complete the crime or will Rupert tie the knot?' To find the answers to these and other intriguing mysteries, enjoy Hitchcock's classic thriller of the "perfect crime".
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