8:00 PM, 12th April, 2001
Brandon and Phillip (Dall and Grainger) have just strangled a fellow student (with a rope ((mdash)) watch the rope) and hidden his body in a chest. It was kind of fun. It would be almost as much fun, they think, to put a tablecloth over the chest and hold a dinner party, so they do that, too. The key guests are the victim's girlfriend, Janet; his father; and philosophy professor Rupert Cadell (Stewart), who has argued for years, in a theoretical kind of way, that superior men have a right to commit murder.
I've neither read nor seen Patrick Hamilton's play Rope's End, but it looks as though Hitchcock has been faithful to it: all the action takes place in one room, in 80 minutes of continuous action. And I mean continuous. Hitchcock wanted a film that consisted of just one, long shot from beginning to end, and he wasn't going to let the fact that his cameras could only hold ten minutes of film stand in his way. Hitchcock does what he can to hide the cuts. No single-shot film had been made before, and none has been made since. Hitchcock's creepily unblinking camera perfectly suits the story((mdash))but the long succession of ten-minute takes proved horribly expensive, and exhausting for all concerned. Rope is likely to remain unique. Miss it, and you miss your chance of seeing anything like it.
9:30 PM, 12th April, 2001
The Lodger was Hitchcock's third feature film but it was the one that established his reputation as a director of taut and suspenseful thrillers. London is terrorised by a serial killer known as The Avenger (loosely based on Jack the Ripper), who is murdering young blonde women. The Buntings have rented a room to a mysterious lodger, Jonathan Drew (Novello), who eventually falls in love with their daughter, Daisy (June((mdash))yes, like Madonna, she has no professional surname). Daisy is engaged to Joe (Keen), who happens to be assigned to The Avenger case. After uncovering some apparent clues, such as Jonathan's leaving the house in the middle of the night, the Buntings suspect that the lodger could be the killer, and Joe, who is jealous of Jonathan, is only too keen to have him arrested. The film foreshadows many of Hitchcock's techniques and themes used in his later films. There is a sparsity of intertitles compared with many silent movies, as Hitchcock tries to convey story and atmosphere through visual means. If you're trying to spot Hitchcock, he appears at a desk in the newsroom early in the film.