By this time, Hardwicke and Chandler are beginning to worry at Hogan's mysterious disappearance. He was supposed to be at the party, too, but they just assumed he'd been held up. Now, though, they've already eaten and he hadn't even called, let alone arrived.
Also, Evanson tells Stewart how both Dall and Granger had been acting strange all day, right up to and including their bizarre choice to serve dinner off of an ugly trunk in the living room as opposed to the lovely table in the dining room.
Granger sees them hanging around the trunk and he goes over and tries to rush Evanson away. Unfortunately, he can't do the same to Stewart, who takes the opportunity as Granger plays the piano to try a little interrogation.
He tells Granger he knows he'd strangled plenty of chickens in his lifetime and he asks why he was so upset at Dall's story. He knows something's going on, that this is no ordinary dinner party, and he asks what Dall's up to.
Granger is freaking out, but then when Stewart asks him if Dall's trying to get Dick and Chandler back together, he just laughs in relief.
Everyone else comes back into the living room, and by this point, Hardwicke is ready to leave to find Hogan. Meanwhile, as everyone is offering logical explanations for Hogan's absence, Evanson is clearing the leftover food and candles off the trunk.
All that's left is for her to do is to put the books next to it back in the trunk---meaning, of course, opening the trunk and finding Hogan's body---but just as she's about to do it, Stewart walks over and says, "I'll help you with that," and then
, when the audience can't take the suspense anymore, Dall rushes over and tells Evanson she can leave the books until the following morning when she comes back to clean.
Stewart is beyond suspicious now. He's pretty much certain either Dall alone or both Dall and Granger did something to Hogan, but he hasn't the faintest idea what.
Hardwicke and Collier leave and Dick and Chandler go with them. Stewart decides he might as well leave, too, so Evanson gives him his hat. He puts it on and Evanson quickly notices she gave him the wrong hat. Stewart takes it off and looks inside and sees the initials "D.K." for Hogan's character, David Kentley.
He leaves, mortified, and Dall is practically radiating triumph while Granger looks physically and mentally exhausted.
Before they can celebrate their success, the phone rings and it's Stewart. He tells them he left his cigarette case and he wants to get it back.
When he returns, he confronts the two of them with what he knows: Hogan disappeared and Dall and Granger either know what happened or are responsible. Dall is armed and if Stewart confirms his knowledge, Dall is prepared to kill him, but Stewart fakes ignorance and gets Dall to reveal the gun he had hidden in his pocket.
Once he puts it on the piano, Stewart then lays his cards on the table, and after a struggle with Granger, retrieves the gun and tells them to get away from the trunk.
He tells them he doesn't want to open the trunk, but he has to, and Dall says, "Fine. I hope you like what you see."
When he finds Hogan's body, he absolutely does NOT like what he sees, and he lets Dall know. He tells him he thinks he's despicable and he tells both Dall and Granger that they're going to die for what they did. He then takes the gun and fires off several shots out the window, prompting the other residents to call the police, ending Dall's and Granger's plan.
And so ends the film, but the discussion is only just beginning.
I should make a couple of things known. First, this film is famous for an early and daring portrayal of homosexuality. Nothing could be made explicit due to the censors and the Catholic Legion of Decency, but there were implications of Dall's and Granger's homosexuality, and indeed, according to screenwriter Arthur Laurents
, Dall and Granger were supposed to be lovers and Stewart was supposed to be a homosexual and was even supposed to have had an affair with one or both of the boys during their schooling.
Now maybe I'm just dense (a possibility, I admit
) but I didn't pick up on that the first time I watched Rope
through and only after reading that did I have any idea that's what they were going for.
There's also a documentary on the Rope
DVD called Rope Unleashed
and it pretty much features Laurents insulting Hitchcock's directorial merit and talking about everything he did wrong in the film, including the way he killed the suspense by showing the murder in the opening and by ignoring the sexual relationship between Stewart and the killers. He also hated Stewart's casting, and even Stewart felt uncomfortable in the role.
For my money, though, I think everything Hitchcock did in opposition of Laurents' ideas was for the better of the film and I think James Stewart did a phenomenal job as Rupert Cadell.
1) Laurents didn't want the murder to be shown in the film because he wanted there to be suspense and uncertainty about whether or not there was really a body in the trunk. I don't know about you, but I think that's stupid. The real suspense comes from knowing there's a body in the trunk and being on the edge of your seat every time you think it's going to be found.
2) Laurents wanted there to be more explicit handling of the homosexuality and I don't feel it was necessary. First of all, you didn't need Dall and Granger to be gay for their dynamic to work. IMO, my initial perception---Dall always being the strong-willed one who could manipulate his friend to his will---worked much better. Furthermore, I think Stewart's homosexuality and his past relationship with one or both boys was wholly unnecessary. The relationship between Stewart and Dall in the film I thought was much stronger because it's not one of sexual connection but one of reverance. Dall simply worships Stewart. He didn't want him there to see if he could trick him. HE WANTED TO BE FOUND OUT. He wanted his hero, his idol, to be let in on the scheme and to be in awe of Dall's ingenuity.
3) Stewart's performance was great. I don't know why anybody would think otherwise. He's a darker, more complex character than any other he'd played up to that point and arguably darker and more complex than any character in his career save for his final collaboration with Hitchcock with Vertigo
. He maintained that same Stewart charm but he was also incredibly wry and caustic while at the same time being perceptive and extremely intelligent. Then, at the end, when he finds out what his former students had done and he tells them how disgusted he is and how insane they are, it practically screams in your face, "This is a great performance."
I really don't have much to say by way of criticism. Granted, this film isn't among Hitchcock's best, but that doesn't mean anything since Hitchcock is one of the greatest filmmakers to ever live and produced some of the greatest films ever made, so just because Rope
isn't as good as Vertigo
, that shouldn't imply that it's not a great film in its own right because it absolutely is.
If you haven't seen this one, then regardless of how much---or how little---you like Hitchcock, definitely check it out.