Farley Granger on Gay Subtext in ‘Rope’: ‘It Was Never Discussed’

The late Farley Granger lives again, courtesy of a never-seen 40-minute interview conducted by TCM in 1995 that has just been uploaded to the channel's popular YouTube account.

Granger, Hitch, Stewart & John Dall (Image via Warner Bros.)

In the footage, Granger, then around 70, discusses his unique career, characterized by his rebellious decision to focus on the stage and on foreign cinema to the point of buying back his own contract.

A 1924 newspaper headline spelled it out, even if Rope didn't — "Perverts" (Image via The Day)

Of particular interest are Granger's comments about his work with Alfred Hitchcock, which began with the 1948 psychological drama Rope, loosely based on the Leopold-Loeb murder and dripping with gay subtext.

Hitchock's cameo was this hard-to-see profile, a neon sign for a fake weight-loss product called Reduco. Pictured: Douglas Dick and Joan Chandler.

Granger said he felt the Leopold-Loeb case was only a "vague" inspiration, and singled out "the shooting of the film" as the most interesting aspect.

"We could've had a better script, really, but we didn't, so that's beside the point," he says. "[Hitch] wanted to do a film where there was no editing — it would be one, complete take."

Rare Italian movie poster for Rope (Image via MGM)

Saying Hitchcock wanted to do it "for the fun of it," he pointed out it was impossible, because only 10-minute pieces of film could be shot at a time, leading to 10-minute loads followed by dissolves.

"It wasn't anything that was ever gonna work for other films, really," he said, chalking it up to Hitchcock's desire to go his own way. "It was a completely selfish toy-thing."

Granger goes on to say he felt Jimmy Stewart was miscast, suggest James Mason as someone with a more appropriately "sinister bite to him."

As for other gay subtext, Granger laughs out loud when acknowledging that, "It was never discussed! This was in the late '40s. It was never discussed. Hitch never said anything about anything — nobody did."

He went on, "I mean, we had the Hays Office then and everything, you know? And I can't remember any discussion about it at all — really."

He chalked some of this up to Hitchcock leaving his actors alone, going on to say the director would sometimes proclaim, "I've done this before," when shooting.


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