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Hitchcock’s Rope and Gay ‘Rights’

Ideas have consequences: Hitchcock's "failed experiment" is a timely meditation on the intersection of homosexuality, elitism, fascism and decadence.

by
Kathy Shaidle

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March 6, 2014 - 3:15 pm
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David, Brandon and Philip are gathered for cocktails in a swanky Manhattan apartment, but two of the pals throttle the third and cram his body into a heavy wooden chest. Instead of hiding themselves, or the evidence of their crime, they throw a party, inviting the dead man’s loved ones to sip champagne and make small talk, just a few feet from his cooling corpse.

The murderers are supercilious Brandon (John Dall), and sensitive Philip (Farley Granger): friends and, it is heavily implied, lovers, too.

The party’s guests have been carefully chosen: the murder victim’s father and aunt, his fiance — and Rupert Cadell, played by Jimmy Stewart.

Rupert taught all three boys at prep school, where he filled their heads with dime-store Nietzsche, with a sprinkling of Wilde and Rand:

Intellectually superior people (like themselves, of course) were above the law, you see.

Even murder was acceptable, if the victim was an inferior. In fact, such an act of creative destruction would render the world a better place.

It’s hinted — again, this was 1948 — that Rupert had also initiated the boys (or at the very least, Brandon) into homosexuality.

And indeed, despite the strictures of the era, Rope remains one of the gayest movies ever made pre-1960s.

Both Dall and Granger were gay in real life; so was screenwriter Arthur Laurents, who was sleeping with Granger during filming.

To the amusement of all involved with Rope, words like “gay” and “queer” made it past the powers that be because, as usual, Hitchcock intentionally larded the original script with enough superfluous “offensive” fluff — lines like “My dear boy” — to preoccupy, and ultimately wear down, the censors.

The murder scene that opens Rope is, to modern eyes, campily sexual, and not just because the weapon of choice, that titular rope, suggests bondage; Brandon pulls orgasmic faces and even lights a “post-coital” cigarette.

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Top Rated Comments   
You have never said one thing I am wrong about. But if you must name it "hate", yes, I hate lies, bullying, falsehood, misrepresentation, insincerity, and hypocrisy. I hate your particular refusal to acknowledge plain facts. I hate that it is more important for you to call me a "hater" than deal with the disease spreading nature of your beloved homosexual activity that has killed hundreds of thousands.

You are the epitome of dishonesty, concealment, and illogic.

What do you think you accomplish by calling me names? How do you advance your cause in an honest way. You pretend to be a nice guy, but you are the first to try to shut people up through marginalization, proving the emptiness of your position.

I do not have to like your beloved sodomists - except in the brave, new, Marxist world you are helping to build. It is not relevant to anything I am saying.

What about those hundreds of thousands of deaths?

Let's concentrate on that, now, shall we? Have you got any answer for that other than to call me a hater?
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
Like the "moderate Muslims" who never condemn terrorism, we never hear from the "moderate gays" who don't want to tear down the culture we've built over the last two millennium. If you won't choose a side, then we already know which side you're on.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
xcept we’re the fools who persist in believing that our political opponents are well-meaning if misguided individuals, and that the catastrophic “consequences” of their actions are all “unintended.”

If you don’t believe gay activists intended all along to destroy marriage and the family; to proudly, publicly violate laws with impunity while persecuting “homophobic” bumpkins who refuse to submit to their increasingly absurd demands; to adopt fascist techniques to acquire imaginary “rights;” to have their cake, eat it too, and force you to bake it, or else — you haven’t been paying attention to the clues.

That's worth repeating.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (73)
All Comments   (73)
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Great article Kathy.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
Watched Rope just last year for the first time. Thought it was okay, not great.

But in the bonus features, someone mentioned (it may have been the screenwriter), showing the murder take place on camera was the true mistake. Because it removed the element of doubt from the viewers mind. Therefor reducing interest to mere waiting for the famous trunk lid to be opened.

As far as the gay angle goes, if I had seen Rope as a child, or young teen, it would have gone right by me. And I just learned from Wikipedia, Rope was Alfred Hitchcock's first color film.

I also think mentioning Rand in this context was a mistake. Rand had no presence in American culture at the time. Certainly not in the 1920s. And in 1948, was known only as the author of one single best selling novel.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
Two psychopathic gays killed a man, and this means gays want to kill the institution of marriage? C'mon. Leopold and Loab happen to be gay and they happen to be Jewish. So what?

By the way, I know and love the movie. It is indeed chilling. I prefer it to Psycho or Frenzy.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Rope" may not be a great film but it is an intensely interesting one both from the standpoint of it's story and it's technical challenges. Nearly all of the props and walls were mounted on wheels and could be pulled silently aside as Hitchcock's camera followed the performers around the apartment. I thought James Stewart did an excellent job, going from a facile and condescending intellectual to horrified crime witness. (It was also a chance to see the great stage actress Constance Collier expertly play one of her slightly batty upper-class matrons.) John Dall and Farley Granger were good as the Nietzsche -inspired killers but Dean Stockwell and Bradford Dillman were better in 1959's "Compulsion" and their homosexual relationship was handled more directly. I'll say this - If "Rope" is playing on TMC or anywhere else then watch it. It's probably better than anything else that's on TV at that time.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
Excerpt from "gay activists intended....." link (emphasis mine): "For those who actually try to put it into practice, however, it quickly becomes obvious that humans were simply not meant to function this way, and basing an entire culture on the proposition, as we have since the 1960s, is going to create dismal state of emotional and social chaos, misery, loneliness, poverty and selfishness such as the world has never seen before.

The main problem with the homosexualist version of the Marxist dream is that you have to get everyone to agree. And I mean everyone. Marxist theorists have always known that utopia will only work if no one is allowed to raise any objection. Everyone has to agree, and no voice of dissent can be tolerated to pop the soap bubble logic of the enterprise."

It's beyond dispute that these extremists are not rooted in reality; herding cats would be much easier than what these nutcases want to accomplish. They will never succeed. Meantime, the gay community will always be with is, will always be a fraction of the entire population. Marriage will survive even their most diabolical plans. IOW, nothing to lose sleep over.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
In any population there will always be consistent populations of outliers that deviate from the norm. There will always be dwarfs, giants, albinos and other outliers who deviate from the norm in their own ways. Just because these outliers is no reason to either unduly discriminate against them or remake society to pander to them, and yet, that's what gays are demanding - a complete rewrite of society to suit them.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
".....remake society to pander to them, and yet, that's what gays are demanding - a complete rewrite of society to suit them."

There can be no argument that this is true for the activist few who have enjoyed a lot of media attention, leading some to believe that they speak for the majority in their community. Speaking for myself from the entirety of my life's experiences with them, they don't reflect this POV with the things I have heard them say or the nature of the attitudes they display around me. They simply don't want to be discriminated against & don't want to be the targets of social stigma. I don't think that's too much to ask.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
It's simple, really. If they don't want to be stigmatized, they shouldn't promote sexual activity that is dangerous and kills people.

As for the relative numbers, it's totally irrelevant. How many people work in the White House? Gee, then I guess the occupants of the White House can't do any harm.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
If they don't speak up against this, then they are complicit by their silence just like the so-called moderate majority of muslims.

Every time some conservative or Christian goes overboard in rhetoric, the rest of us are forced to fall all over ourselves to disavow and tar and feather the offender, but somehow the so-called victim classes of society never have to do this. The end result is that they can neatly and innocently claim that it was only our fringe extremes all they want and escape social censure while the rest of us cannot.

Where is the intellectual honesty on this?
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
".....the rest of us are forced to fall all over ourselves to disavow and tar and feather the offender, but somehow the so-called victim classes of society never have to do this. The end result is that they can neatly and innocently claim that it was only our fringe extremes all they want and escape social censure while the rest of us cannot."

I don't appreciate Christian bashing any more than any other brand of social marginalizing & would love to see it stop. Unfortunately, this isn't likely to happen & certainly does not stand up as a fair rationale for giving countenance to socially censuring those of the gay community.

There is certainly no intellectual honesty in the case of trying to marginalize, impugn, ignore the basic rights & freedoms of anyone for any reason. These things reflect a pattern of closed mindedness & prejudice in the case of the people who take part in such things.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
"does not stand up as a fair rationale for giving countenance to socially censuring those of the gay community."

Well, that their defining activity spreads disease, kills people, and endangers society does.

"There is certainly no intellectual honesty ..."

There is no intellectual honesty in ignoring the true reasons to oppose any kind of recognition for homosexual activity.

"basic rights & freedoms of anyone"

Yeah, your new age idea of rights and freedoms, just made up out of the whole cloth. What about "rights and freedoms" for the thief community?
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
Marriage has already been half destroyed by feminists allied with Marxists. The original, age old deal was that the man was bound to help raise children and the woman was bound to provide sex. Feminists called this "slavery", and with the help of the always present Marxist long marchers and their dupes eliminated the female part of the obligation through fault free divorce. A direct consequence of this evil female abandonment of responsibility is that the rate of children harmed through single parent fostering has shot through the roof.

The male sex is the only collectively responsible sex. Had males started up a selfish movement like feminism, we would have demanded the right to choose to not support our own children in parallel with the evil feminist, Marxist supported collective demand by women to be able to choose to escape the consequences of a prior choice to have sex.

Women would do well to look at men collectively to understand what responsible, right behavior is.

Of course homosexuals will destroy marriage if they are not stopped by people willing to be called "haters" by people who pose as the epitome of goodness.

There is more than enough information for you to understand this.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Women would do well to look at men collectively to understand what responsible, right behavior is." --

Oh really? Your idea of primordial social perfection is for men to say to women, "You give me pleasure whenever I want it, and then maybe I'll help you raise my own offspring." And if the man abandons his own offspring and their mother to move on to the next conquest, it's because women are selfish!

Marriage developed over the centuries precisely to restrain the self-indulgent and promiscuous tendencies of men. It was invented so that men would be socially and legally prodded into supporting their offspring and not abandoning the women they have used for their pleasure.

The notion that no-fault divorce is women's invention to get rid of men is crazy. Plenty of men are happy when they can easily get rid of their old wife and move on to a younger one. Plenty of men are happy that they don't even have to marry the women they impregnate in the first place.

Looser sexual mores are much, much more favorable to men than they could ever be to women.

32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
Feminsts demanded and got fault free divorce. Feminists (always with the help of the Marxists and their dupes, of course) were by far the most powerful political force at the time.

When you say "Marriage [...] was invented so that men would be socially and legally prodded into supporting their offspring and not abandoning the women they have used for their pleasure," well, you have put down half the formula. The other half, the wife's conjugal obligation, was formally denounced and abandoned - and by your sneering the word "pleasure", it isn't hard to guess that you approve - and yet, we are to believe that feminists had nothing to do with it? A lot more children running around in the streets without fathers to discipline them is what you've achieved.

Well, you can sneer out "pleasure" to describe a powerful, innate drive all you want, but it doesn't explain why I should help you raise your child, which, after all, you have the right to choose not to have.

So just why is it that I should help you raise your child? It's my offspring? So what? Some species eat their offspring.

How about you raise your children by yourself, and I'll go satisfy my needs somewhere else? After all, you've got "choice". The sex act is never followed by a child if the female chooses that to be so. It is entirely in her hands. Well, guess what, when some guy impregnates a woman and takes off, he's just exercising "choice" too.

But men don't actually collectively approve of that and they never have. That is because there is no masculinist organization, and that is because, collectively, men are far more responsible to society than raging, selfish females with their collective feminist voice and sneering about men's "pleasure" and "conquests".

You spent the entire feminist era with the attitude that men could go to Hell. That's why women raise their children alone far more than they did in the days before they had their snit and half way destroyed marriage.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Looser sexual mores are much, much more favorable to men than they could ever be to women."

Something that the powers of feminism will never change. #itiswhatitis
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
One of the best Hitchcock films ever made. Saw it for the first time a few years ago and was stunned I had never see nor heard of it before.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
BTW. James Stewart is Farley Granger's brother in the film and the Leopold/Loeb murder of Bobby Franks took place in 1919, not 1929.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
Wrong on both counts Curt. If not, show your work.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
Leopold and Loeb was 1924 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leopold_and_Loeb

Stewart's character was named Rupert Cadell and while Granger's was named Phillip Morgan. They weren't brothers.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sometimes a film can be over-analyzed and, with all due respect to Kathy, I think this is one of those times. Rope is an oddity, a creative experiment and its homosexual undercurrent was probably understood by the audience when the film was released because the Loeb/Leopold case which inspired it was still a murder that fascinated the public. We must remember that this was before thrill killings became commonplace - the sensational Charlie Starkweather murder spree wouldn't even happen for over a decade - and people still wanted to understand deviancy, unlike today when deviancy is just another form of social interaction. Hitchcock's genius, aside from his gift for film making, was his exploration of the psychology of deviancy. I think Rope is a great film and visually stunning. I've watched it countless times and always find something new to appreciate in it.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
"We must remember that this was before thrill killings became commonplace "

Billy the Kid.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'm not a Billy the Kid expert, but weren't his crimes the result of robberies? Murder for financial gain is as old as time itself and easily understood by everyone, not so with crimes that grow out of human depravity. Loeb and Leopold fascinated the public because their crime was so far removed from anything the newspaper reading public had heard of until then. The coldness of their narcissistic vision of their own intellectual superiority still fascinates the public. The Billy the Kid analogy is like comparing John Dillinger to Charles Manson.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
William Antrim killed his first known victim in a gunfight in Arizona. He killed several people in the Lincoln Country wars in New Mexico, more hired gun and perhaps overzealous security guard than thrill killer or serial killer. He killed two deputies to escape from jail while under sentence of death. Antrim had little respect for human life but I dunno if thrill killer is a good term for him.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
Nothing you've said undercuts my argument.

I've watched Rope countless times too and I guess I just beat you to "finding something new to appreciate in it" this particular time: how the well-documented homosexual flirtation with fascism/supremacism is manifesting itself in the here and now.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'm sorry that you think I was trying to undercut your argument, I wasn't, but I think it would be more relevant to find the same connection in more contemporary films, films produced since the sexual revolution of the '60s. I try to look at films through the prism of the age in which they were made and I seriously doubt that Hitchcock was consciously making this connection when he made Rope. It was, after all, based on a previous theatrical production which was based on the first sensational crime involving homosexual men. In it's day, that was shocking enough.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
I've watched Rope several times, and think the "one take" was done brilliantly. Details like the "hides" of the reel splices, and the imperceptibly gradual change of light through the window as the sun sets, was typically awesome Hitch, whether or not he thinks he was successful.

All that being said, I never, ever got the "gay" vibe. Well-dressed roommates, sure. Disappointed that I'll probably not be able to watch it again without seeing the sexual clues, which will ruin the movie for me.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
It's interesting to watch a movie like "Rope" (which I have not, gotta get that into the queue) or "The Sound of Music" and compare to something like "The Lord of the Rings" or most recent films. Try to count to 10 before there's a splice of some kind. In some older movies, you can count much higher. In "LOTR" and most more modern movies, even 10 is rare and 20 almost unknown.
I dunno quite what that does to the movie experience. I think the long take mode was surprising to viewers of Carrie Underwood's "The Sound of Music" but it was necessary in a live performance.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
Rope and 39 steps are my least favorite Hitchcock movies, although to be fair it's been a long time since I've watched either flick.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
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