Wednesday, October 03, 2012
This is one of my favorite Hitchcock films so my opinion may be slightly biased. It’s not one of his best-rated films and I would guess that is due to the long wait for the eventual pay off. However, I feel it’s one of the most intriguing looks into the sheer deviousness of human nature that I’ve ever seen. The film opens on a street view from window height, after the opening credits roll we are turned around to see a window with closed drapes. The camera then takes us forward through the window and into the privacy of the room where two men are in the act of strangling a third man with a rope. Once dead, they deposit him into a wooden chest and proceed to a discussion about a party they are throwing in a short while. One of the men, Philip, is clearly nervous about what they’ve just done while Brandon, the other man seems quite pleased with himself. As the conversation continues we learn that David, the dead man, is a classmate of theirs. The plan was to murder this “inferior” classmate and then throw a dinner party inviting other mates, their housemaster and even the dead man’s parents just to prove the perfection of their crime. They even go so far as to serve food from the top of the very trunk where David’s body lies.
The key player in this whole film is Rupert, the housemaster who is played by James Stewart. Rupert is a sly old chap who doesn’t miss a trick. He quickly picks up on Philip’s nervous behavior and begins working him. As I stated at the start of my review, this is a slow burner. The tension builds up throughout the party and it really becomes a match of wits between Rupert and the boys. At one point Brandon, in an outright display of arrogance hands a pile of books wrapped by the very rope that killed his son to David’s father. At that point Philip has a partial meltdown and Brandon just smiles, you know he is thoroughly enjoying torturing his partner in crime. The acting is fantastic, it really has to be for this to work since there is such a small cast of characters. If you have access to Epix on your tv, they have a great list of Hitchcock films on demand. Only downside is they are only available until October 5th, I’ve clocked in two already.