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Smart Men, Bad Men, Proud Killers

Guest Author - Barbara Rice DeShong, PhD.

Hilter’s final words speak of his surprise that the rest of the world did not join him in his efforts to eradicate the Jewish people. His expectation had been that other nations would agree with him—that not all humans were equal in their right to exist. In fact, some people were so inferior that they deserved to be killed.

Alfred Hitchcock’s principal characters in “The Rope” (1948) would have agreed with Hitler as they go about carrying out what they see as the perfect murder. Along with their goal of getting away with murder is their belief that no one should really care that they have killed a man because their was an inferior man.

Is there ever such a thing as the perfect murder? Probably not, yet many murders go unsolved for lack of evidence. What if two men decided to prove their superiority to their peers by committing a murder right under the noses of the victim’s family? In “The Rope” two young men prevalent in Manhattan society, Brandon Shaw (John Dall) and Phillip Morgan (Farley Granger), first talk in a teasing way about doing such a deed. Following up on an earlier discussion led by a teacher in which the teacher offhandedly makes remarks about how people are not equal, but fall into castes with some superior and some weaker and less deserving, the two select David Kently (Dick Hogan) as their victim. Brandon and Phillip see David as the perfect choice as he is, in their view, intellectually beneath them and, therefore, not as important to the world.

David is strangled with at roped and his body stowed in an old chest in the apartment the two killers share. But, committing the perfect murder is not enough of an adrenalin rush for Brandon and Phillip. To flaunt their prowess, the two throw a dinner party including among the guests, the dead man’s father, aunt, and his fiancé. Food and drinks are served on the chest holding the body. The two men are arrogant and eventually so impressed with their own cleverness that they, particularly Brandon, toss around suggestive comments hinting at why David is not at the dinner party…at least not present in the “usual” way.

For his part Phillip becomes increasingly anxious and guilt-ridden, showing physical signs of stress and making efforts to quiet Brandon. The teacher whose “murder plot” was lifted from class is also at the party and begins to catch on to the notion that the hosts have been very bad boys. The tension builds until arrogance becomes ignorance of the deepest sort.
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Content copyright © 2014 by Barbara Rice DeShong, PhD.. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Barbara Rice DeShong, PhD.. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Grace Rostoker for details.

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