"An immaculate murder. We’ve killed for the sake of danger and the sake of killing...How did you feel during it? I felt tremendous, exhilarated."
Description: John Dall as prep-schooler Brandon Shaw expresses elation over the thrill murder of a fellow student that he committed with his partner, Philip Morgan (Farley Granger) in the motion picture Rope (1948).
Brandon Shaw, the sardonic one, and Philip Morgan, the nervous one, are Manhattan socialites who share an apartment in New York City. They believe they are intellectually superior to other people, especially their "inferior" classmate David Kentley (Dick Hogan), whom they decide to murder through strangulation.
Brandon has no problem killing David because he believes, "Good and evil, right and wrong were invented for the ordinary average man, the inferior man, because he needs them."
After killing David, the arrogant duo place his lifeless body in an antique wooden chest and throw a small dinner party, where upon Brandon and Philip perversely watch as their guests unknowingly pass closely by David's body that is stuffed inside the makeshift coffin which doubles as a table for the party refreshments.
The dinner party guests include their old schoolteacher, Professor Rupert Cadell (James Stewart) who taught Brandon and Philip Nietzsche’s theory of the supermen, (which they interpreted to their own ends); David's father, Mr. Henry Kentley (Cedric Harddwicke) who keeps looking out the window as he waits for the son we know is never coming); Mrs. Anita Atwater (Constance Collier), the victim's aunt; Janet Walker (Joan Chandler), the dead man's fiancée; Kenneth Turner (Douglas Dick), David's rival for Janet Walker; and Mrs. Wilson (Edith Evanson), the servant.
As Professor Rupert Cadell suspects foul play from the two boys, he begins to bait the boys with a dialog about the theory of murder, saying, "Murder is—or should be—an art, and as such, the privilege of committing it should be reserved for the few who are really superior individuals."
"The good Americans usually die young on the battlefield, don't they? Well, the Davids of this world merely occupy space, which is why he was the perfect victim for the perfect murder. Course he, uh, he was a Harvard undergraduate. That might make it justifiable homicide." - Brandon
Brandon continues the Professor’s line of reasoning: “And the victims are inferior, whose lives are unimportant anyway!” Shocked, the Professor quietly replies, “Obviously. Now, mind you, I don't hold with the extremists who feel that there should be open season for murder all year round. No, personally, I would prefer to have..."Cut a Throat Week"... or, uh, "Strangulation Day"... ”
"I've always wished for more artistic talent. Well, murder can be an art, too. The power to kill can be just as satisfying as the power to create." - Brandon
|Brandon:||Determined to get drunk, aren't you?|
|Phillip:||I am drunk.|
|Brandon:||And just as childish as you were before when you called me a liar.|
|Phillip:||You had no business telling that story.|
|Brandon:||Why did you lie anyway?|
|Phillip:||I had to! Have you ever bothered for just one minute to understand how someone else might feel?|
|Brandon:||I'm not sentimental if that's what you...|
|Phillip:||No, that's not what I mean; but it doesn't matter. Nothing matters... except that Mr. Brandon liked the party. Mr. Brandon gave the party. Mr. Brandon had a delightful evening. Well, I had a rotten evening!|
|Brandon:||Keep drinking, and you'll have a worse morning.|
|Phillip:||At least if I have a hangover, it'll be all mine!|
As the party comes to a conclusion David's father leaves to find out why his son never arrved. Brandon in a fit of dark whimsy gives the father a few books which he ties with the same cord that he strangled his son. Professor Cadell leaves as well, but returns when he realizes that he took the wrong hat. A hat belonging to David, bearing his initials.
Suspicious, Professor Cadell stays behind to continue his converstaion on the art of murder. As all of the veiled comments dropped by Brandon and Philip fall in place, Cadell opens the chest now topped with books and discovers David's body. Cadell is shocked and disappointed that his former students would have taken his teachings and twisted their meaning.
Realizing that he and Brandon might be prosecuted for their exercise in a "perfect crime" Philip pulls a gun, and announces, "Now look, I'm not going to get caught because of you or anyone else. Nobody is going to get in my way now."
Undaunted by Philip's bluster, the Professor wrestles the gun away from him, firing serveral shots to signal that he is in danger.
In the last scene, Professor Cadell waits patiently with gun in hand, as the sound of police sirens get louder. Seemingly unconcerned, Brandon Shaw pours himself a drink, while a frightened Philip Morgan says, "They're coming."