Friday, when I should have been composing a post for this, my little spot on the internet, I watched back to back Hitchcock on AMC. I thought I had seen all of Alfred Hitchcock’s Hollywood period films & some of his early British silent & early talkies, but I had somehow missed- Marnie, from 1964. I finally watched this film in amazement & afterwards I felt I needed to put together a post on my impressions of this nearly nutty psychological thriller about a frigid & fragile person, who is raped by Sean Connery, but then I thought- why, when I live it every day?
Immediately after viewing Marnie, I dug into my at least 5th time with Rope. I am always up for a little Farley Granger. Granger had a career on stage & screen from the early 1940s- into the new century. He was well known for starring in a pair of films Hitchcock with legendary homosexual subtext- Rope & Strangers On A Train.
His first starring role in They Live by Night, directed by bi-sexual Nicholas Ray, is considered to be one of his finest film performances. Granger’s sensitive portrayal of a bank robber caught the attention of Alfred Hitchcock. While preparing to shoot Rope a movie inspired by the notorious Leopold & Loeb murder case, Granger & co-star John Dall (whose homosexuality was also well known in the Hollywood community) were cast as a pair affluent young men, who set out to commit a " Prefect Murder".
The men’s sexuality is never made explicit in the film, but the relationship between Granger’s & Dall’s characters has a strong homoerotic subtext, skillfully sewn together by Hitchcock & his actors. The film became notorious for its continuous, uninterrupted 10-minute takes, the amount of time a reel of Technicolor film lasted. It was a difficult feat as Hitchcock ran into numerous technical problems which frequently brought the action to a halt throughout the 21 day shoot.
3 years after starring in Rope, Granger again worked with Hitchcock in the classic thriller Strangers on a Train, based on the first novel by acclaimed lesbian writer Patricia Highsmith, who authored The Talented Mr. Ripley & a series of Ripley books. Although Hitchcock himself was dissatisfied with the end result, Strangers On A Train was a box office hit & the first major success of Granger’s career & is one of my favorite Hitchcock’s films.
Granger remained secretive about his private life, but his homosexuality has been widely known in the Hollywood & Broadway acting communities. Among his many lovers was Post Apocalyptic Bohemain favorite- Arthur Laurents who wrote the screenplay for Rope. Laurents speaks kindly of him in his memoir- Original Story By.
Granger had shorter affairs with Leonard Bernstein & Robert Walker, he remained friends with both of them until each of their deaths. In 1995 he was one of many on-screen actors interviewed for Rob Epstein & Jeffrey Friedman’s ground-breaking documentary The Celluloid Closet, discussing the depiction of homosexuality in film, in particular Rope & Strangers On A Train.
Granger was a profoundly good looking actor of considerable range & style: Broadway, films, musicals, light comedies & noir. I found him to be the epitome of how to age with class. He was in a long domestic partnership with stage manager- Robert Calhoun, who passed away on 2008. Together they had written Granger's dishy memoir, deliciously titled- Include Me Out. Granger died in the same week as Elizabeth Taylor last spring.