The most brilliant trick of Alfred Hitchcock‘s Rope is that it takes place in real time. The second most brilliant trick is that co-star John Dall looks unnervingly like a 1940s era Jason Sudeikis.
The result is that, in addition to being the textbook example of a bottle thriller, there’s a sense of incredible magic contained in how the film was made. The same way we marvel at the Cuaron/Lubezki artistry of That Scene from Children of Men, Rope elicits its own brand of awe thanks to Hitchcock, DPs William Skall and Joseph Valentine, and editor William Ziegler.
Fortunately, Vashi Nedomansky has compiled a video of the 10 hidden edits in the film (for everyone interested in knowing how the lady is sawed in half) and written an accompanying exploration of the simple, clever techniques.
The dissolve efforts are fairly noticeable — and have always been — but they provide an interesting version of a subtle act break considering we spend the entirety of the story in the same space. Plus, as Nedomansky points out, the dissolve and hard cuts alternate which was either a happy accident or something devilish from the production team.
Either way, it’s very, very cool. And it makes me want to watch Rope again.