was a film that suitably impressed me the first time I saw it (on YouTube of all places!). Very gripping from beginning to end and it must've been quite daring at the time to have the killers be the protagonists, and have them be strangely likable (if utterly unsympathetic of course). The structure is also unique to me. We know who the murderers are, as well as the how and the why, and even where the body is hidden. We, like Brandon and Phillip, are one step ahead of all of the other characters. The question consequently becomes not "Who killed David?" but "how will they get caught?"
The arrival of Jimmy Stewart as Rupert amps up the tension, since he is just as smart and clever as our murderous duo and it becomes a subtle and weirdly polite battle of wits between him and Brandon as we watch Rupert start to slowly unravel what we already know. I think this just might be my ultimate favorite Hitchcock film besides North by Northwest
Much has been said of the fact Rope is done in only a few shots. I wanna discuss how Stewart enters the picture. Most of the other guests are shown arriving via the front door, but not Rupert; the camera pans over during a wide shot of the living room and he's just suddenly there, as if he materialized out of thin air. It's subtly jarring in a way and helps set him apart from the other party guests as Brandon and Phillip's nemesis and also helps underscore how his relationship to them unfolds - he is expected but unexpected; they know he's coming but he just shows up out of the blue in a slyly startling way, and although Brandon is expecting (or hoping) Rupert will solve the mystery, Rupert's reaction to the revelation is the last thing Brandon expected.
People have said Jimmy Stewart was miscast as college professor Rupert. I totally disagree. He has a laid back, lazy, subtle and sly aura of what I can only call "benevolent menace" to him (if that makes any sense) and it helps keep the audience (as well as Brandon and Phillip!) guessing as to how much Rupert knows. His end speech when he finally finds David in the trunk is one of the most utterly powerful and emotional performances in his career I think.
John Dall as Brandon deserves special mention as well, particularly just before Rupert opens the trunk. His delivery of the line "Go ahead and look! I hope you like what you see!" is great.