Great Moments from Cinema : Jimmy Stewart in Rope (1948)

In the finale of Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope – easily his most under-rated film, we receive two and a half minutes of such powerhouse dramatic acting with a speech from the legendary Jimmy Stewart, that it would proudly stand alongside anything Brando, DeNiro or Pacino have ever done. Venting his anger at two individuals who felt they were above society and decided therefore they had the privelige to murder another human being, for no other reason but for the art of achieving it and the thrill of doing it…

Scene Cast : Jimmy Stewart – Rupert Cadell, John Dall – Brandon Shaw, Farley Granger – Phillip Morgan.



Rupert : “Brandon, till this very moment, this world and the people in it have always been dark and incomprehensible to me. I’ve tried to clear my way with logic and superior intellect. And you’ve thrown my own words right back in my face, Brandon. You were right, too. If nothing else, a man should stand by his words. But you’ve given my words a meaning that i never dreamed of ! And you’ve tried to twist them into a cold, logical excuse for your ugly murder ! Well, they never were that Brandon, and you cant make them that. There must of been something deep inside you from the very start that let you do this thing, but there’s always been something deep inside me, that would never let me do it – and would never let me be a party to it now.”

Brandon : “What do you mean ?”

Rupert : “I mean that tonight you’ve made me ashamed of every concept i ever had of superior or inferior beings. But i thank you for that shame, because now i know that we are each of us a separate human being, Brandon. With the right to live and work and think as individuals, but with an obligation to the society we live in. By what right do you dare say that there’s a superior few to which you belong ? By what right did you dare decide that, that boy in there was inferior and therefore could be killed ? Did you think you were God, Brandon ? Is that what you thought when you choked the life out of him ? Is that what you thought when you served food from his grave ? I dont know what you thought or what you are, but i know what you’ve done. You’ve murdered ! You’ve strangled the life out of another fellow human being who could live and love as you never could – and never will again.”

Brandon : “What are you doing ?”

Rupert : “It’s not what i’m going to do, it’s what society’s going to do. I don’t know what that will be, but i can guess. And i can help. You’re going to die, Brandon – both of you ! Youre going to die !

© BRWC 2010.


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Alton loves film. He is founder and Editor In Chief of BRWC.  Some of the films he loves are Rear Window, Superman 2, The Man With The Two Brains, Clockwise, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Trading Places, Stir Crazy and Punch-Drunk Love.

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