Alfred Hitchcock's 1948 film of Rope is best remembered for being shot in a sequence of eight minute takes. It also played up the Leopold and Loeb link, inferring the killers were gay (Loeb was killed in prison after making advances to another inmate) which was enough to see the film banned in Chicago, Seattle and Memphis. The tension of the script, though, is dissipated by both Hitchcock's experimentation - you can't for a second forget that the takes are v-e-r-y long - and Farley Granger's continuous darting around the screen like a sweaty chicken. His performance couldn't be further from Hamilton's cold, clipped script. The author was unimpressed, describing the film as "sordid and practically meaningless balls."
"I don't think so, sir" she replies, with a sly air that Hamilton must have been quite familiar with.
The BBC chose Hamilton's best early work for their 2005 adaptation, Twenty Thousand Streets Under The Sky, a trilogy in which Hamilton captured the whole rootless population of London by focusing on just a few characters, and one setting - The Midnight Bell. Bob and Ella work behind the bar. He is young and handsome, but drinks heavily, and fatally falls for a prostitute called Jenny who slowly tears his life to shreds; Ella, secretly in love with Bob, watches helplessly.
It's hard to fault the settings (recognisably Fitzrovia) or the score (think Pennies From Heaven), though, and the attention to detail in a BBC period drama is something to be treasured after catastrophes like their make-over jobs on Casanova and Beau Brummel. The final episode - with Ella fending off the grisly, grasping Eccles - is particularly claustrophobic, engrained with sooty black humour. No small feat: this is the first time anyone can claim to have captured the real fug and fog of Hamilton's novels.