|Dial M for Murder
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A suave tennis player (Ray Milland) plots the perfect murder, the dispatching of his wealthy wife (Grace Kelly), who is having an affair with a writer (Robert Cummings). Amazingly, the wife manages to stave off her attacker, a twist of fate that challenges the hubby's talent for improvisation. Alfred Hitchcock wisely stuck to the stage origins of Dial M for Murder, ignoring the temptation to "open up" the material from the home of the unhappy couple. The result may not be one of Hitchcock's deepest films, but it's a thoroughly engaging chamber movie. It also features Grace Kelly at her loveliest, the same year she made Rear Window with Hitchcock. Dial M for Murder was filmed in the briefly trendy 3-D process, and Hitchcock shot some scenes to bring out the depth of the 3-D field; it's especially good for the nail-biting attempted murder of Kelly, and her desperate reach for a pair of scissors that seems to be just outside her grasp. However, the film was rarely shown with the proper 3-D projection, going out "flat" instead (a 1980 reissue restored the process for a limited theatrical release). Dial M was remade in 1998 as A Perfect Murder, a film that changed and expanded the material, with no improvement on the clean, witty original. --Robert Horton
- Not a movie to shut you brain off
This is a great movie but it has a few drawbacks. Most young people will have problem appreciating it as you'll see in the reviews below. I would've guessed most people who watched this movie has an idea what they were going to get, but some got off somehow. It has far more dialogue, detail, intelligence and far less violence or action than current thrillers. This movie demands much attention even by standards from those old detective/police movies as Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Chritie's, etc. No wonder one reviewer said this product didn't get much mouth-to-mouth recommendations. But for me this is challenging. It's incredible how prefectionist people were back then without the countless "top ten..." from today, as many critics as today, althoug this particular product might have a minor few mistakes.
Maybe you have already read summaries of this movie from the editorials or spotlighs, so you're already aware the movie starts by introducing a marriage in trouble where the wife (Margot M. Wendice) is cheating with a writer (Mark Halliday) while the husband (Tony Wendice) is well aware..... and planning how to make profits rather than get revenge. The he begins his master with a huge degree of elegance that doesn't help to make it work in real life as someone tells him...."easy on paper, not on reality" There's some good suspense meanwhile but the challenge for the public starts when police does its investigation. Here's where the movie has some minor mistakes:
Tony tells the police he didn't know what time he called his wife, but later the police finds out he did know because Mark says Tony had asked the time. Besides, Tony never clarifies why he called his wife. Anyway Tony creates a lot of confusion to get away. Then the challenge is catch him and the movie gets even more interesting.
Finally, one more thing I enjoyed was not hearing the ridiculous words like "bloody" that are endlessly repeated in many other movies with British characters....more info
- Classic Hitchcock, a cool beauty, a handsome man, and murder
Alfred Hitchcock's 1954 color movie Dial M for Murder is one of those movies that you can watch again and again. After 51 years Dial M for Murder still shines with class and great British style that never grows old. The principals in the movie are Ray Milland (Tony Wendice) and Grace Kelly (Margot Wendice), Robert Cummings is Mark Halliday the outside love interest. John Williams is excellent as the dapper, low keyed Chief Inspector Hubbard. The casting for this movie is just perfect.
Ex-tennis pro Tony Wendice is unhappy to find himself in the middle of a love triangle. He is not so concerned about his wife's extramarital affair, as much as he is concerned about loosing a wealthy wife and her money. By chance he sees and recognizes old class mate, Charles Swann from his college days. He realizes that Swann may be the answer to his money and philandering wife troubles. Ray Milland oozes charm and sometimes menace as his Tony Wendice character purposefully manipulates those around him to become part of his diabolical scheme for the perfect crime. Wendice's smile never reaches his eyes, it lets you know that he will allow nothing to stop his plans. However, it is Anthony Dawson as Charles Swann who holds your attention the whole time he is on the screen. Dawson has the perfect slightly swarmy look for this role as a seasoned petty con man who finds himself caught up in a game he never expected to play. His eyes dart about the room as if trying to find a way out, after he is blackmailed to commit murder. He soon understands that he must comply with Wendice's wishes. But the best laid plans often go bad, and although Wendice falters, he is not deterred. He simply moves on to an alternate plan. Watch Grace Kelly as she goes from being a cool, society housewife Margo Wendice to a hopeless woman who is surprised and confused to find herself falsely accused of murder. Her only hope for freedom is a latchkey.
This is the kind of movie that has you holding your breath. Most of the action takes place in one room and the camera works magic with its corner and overhead shots. There are close ups of inanimate objects that are integral to the plot.
This movie is definitely a must-have for your vintage movie collection.
- Staged Murder Mystery
A married woman had her purse stolen; in it was a letter from an old lover. Then she gets letters demanding money or else that letter would be turned over to her husband, Tony. Her lover, Mark Halliday, arrives to visit Margot and Tony in London. But Tony can't go out with them because of extra work. This work is to meet the seller of an automobile, but really to plan the murder of his wife. The long dialogue sets the background and the plan for murder. [This all seems very like a stage play.] Tony, a tennis star, met and married Margot, a wealthy heiress. But as Tony aged and found a new career, Margot seems to be thinking of leaving him and taking her money. Mark is a writer of mystery novels, and he says the "perfect murder" is impossible in real life. [Some may question this assumption.]
The suspense builds because Tony's watch has stopped. Finally the telephone rings, and "Fisher" tries to kill Margot. But Margot manages to stab "Fisher" and it is the attacker who is killed. Tony returns alone; his plan has failed because reality is not easily controlled. But clever Tony improvises another plan to accomplish his end! These clues are followed up by the police, who also noted the condition of the dead man's shoes. Suspicion falls on Margot. She is tried and convicted of murder. [Note how they economize on the trial. The voice and facial expressions are an old technique from the silent film days.]
Mark Halliday shows up with his explanation of how the murder occurred, and tries to convince Tony to confess to the very plan that we know happened! The police inspector shows up to question Tony about the extra money that Tony has been spending; there was a local robbery. [Note how closely they are watching him!] Mark finds the case with money, and calls the inspector. More conversation follows to carry the story forward. Finally the trick of the police traps Tony when he enters his apartment. Justice triumphs in the end. [Note the subtle criticism of sports stars and wealthy heiresses.]
Alfred Hitchcock always appears in his films. Did you see him in the college reunion photo?
- Hugely Entertaining and Rewarding Mystery
OK, I'm not a film critic. I do like older movies, especially Hitchcock mysteries and John Wayne Westerns and that makes me decidedly middle-brow. All I can say is that 'Dial M for Murder' is a hugely entertaining mystery that rewards the viewer who pays attention (umm, it is a mystery after all). Several delicious plot twists....more info
- I agree with DeRiemer's nitpicking
Scissors would only have scratched the back of Sheila's attacker when swung from the angle she was at. It would have been better if a paper spike had been left on the desk, which would have got in deep enough at first for her to have pressed it home with a little subsequent twisting. It would have been a believably lethal weapon, like an ice pick. A shot or shots of Tony recklessly slamming bills and receipts down on it early in the film would have nicely foreshadowed coming events.
As for swapping Cummings and Milland, that's an adventurous thought that MIGHT have worked. (But it's hard to see Cummings so convincingly twisting the arm of the hired killer he'd recruited. Reviews rarely give adequate credit to this lengthy scene and the actor who played the killer, because it's not in the mainline of the plot, but it's a high point of the movie.) It's too bad Hitch didn't shoot the film BOTH ways, and given us a film with two psychological viewing angles, not just 3D's two physical angles.
One additional cavil is that there was too little information given on the married life of Tony & Sheila. What had so alienated Sheila from Tony that she'd begun an affair? Why did the American version lack any mention (that I recall) of Sheila's considering a divorce--and what were her reasons for this? Had Tony given her reasons to suspect he'd been unfaithful, perhaps before she decided to become adventurous too? Etc. There should have been a scene where Sheila and Mark talked such things over, to give us more of a feel for the marriage's emotional context and historical background. The film is a plot-driven puzzler that fails to involve the audience sufficiently because of its slighting of such matters. (But it still rates five stars.)
A second adventurous change that might have improved the movie would have been to let the viewers see the would-be murderer entering the flat and then slipping the key back under the staircase carpet. That way they'd be "clued in" to the central surprise-element in the plot, which normally is a big No-No. But here it might have worked, because the complexity of the plot is too great for most viewers to make sense of after the fact. Inspector Hubbard's explanation of the latchkey-switcheroo to Mark didn't really clear away the fog--most viewers were left more dazed than enlightened. (And this may have been the reason the film wasn't quite the hit it should have been. It didn't get enough word-of-mouth recommendations.)
I wonder if Hitch did shoot some just-in-case footage showing the door being opened and the key being replaced--in which case a version incorporating it could be included on the DVD; or the viewer could be given the option at the critical point to watch or not watch a "giveaway" scene, and the DVD software could then automatically splice it in. Even if Hitch didn't shoot it, that scene could actually be shot today, in semi-darkness and from a distance (from the front doorway), showing only the back of an actor of about the same dimensions as the original actor, and it would be adequate. I think most viewers would enjoy the movie more despite being "in the know" about the surprise ending.
Here's a wild idea: digitally edit the film to include the changes suggested above and re-release it as "Dial 'N' for Murder"! (N standing for New.) The viewer could chose to see either the old or new version (containing three scenes replacing old scenes). In the new version the scene where the scissors are placed on the desk would be cut, and the scissors on the desk in subsequent scenes would be digitally erased, while a paper spike would be superimposed. The hard part would be to digitally reanimate Mark & Margot talking for half a minute (extending their conversation while Tony is out of the room briefly), enabling them to provide the audience with key background info on the marriage situation and their feelings about it and each other.
There are probably other films that would appeal to a broader audience if they came with alternative plot twists and endings. (Akin to the appeal of "alternative history.") Call the alternative version(s) "Consumers' Cuts." I bet consumers' cuts could improve quite a few movies, although more changes would be needed to some of the sow's ears out there than the tiny tweaks I've suggested to this masterpiece.
PS: Director Stephen Soderbergh expresses similar thoughts (in "Wired," 12/05, p. 257): "I'd like to do multiple versions of the same film. ... People can see either or both."...more info
- Has lost none of its power
Ray Milland is an ex-tennis player (what is it with Hitchcock and tennis players, remember Strangers on a Train?) who has discovered that his wife (Grace Kelly) had a fling with an old friend (Robert Cummings).
Ray wants her dead, partially for the money so he hires an old school chum (well, blackmails him, really) to do the job, shows him where the key will be...and things go wrong from there.
Not one of the Master's usual "wrong man" scenarios, but stunning nonetheless. I saw this one on a Warner Bros. "Night at the Movies" series videotape. It included two newsreels and a Daffy Duck cartoon.
Great fun....more info
- Claustrophobically Good
"Dial M For Murder" may not be Hitchcock's best movie, but it is the director at his best: telling a simple story, with some fine twists, a peculiar sense o humor and a catching plot. But as it is based on a stage play, it suffers from the same problem most films of this type do: it has few chatacters, not so many sets that makes it claustrophoic. Most of the actions takes place in one apartment, or better saying, in the living room of this place, what gives us the feeling of being locked there.
An ex-tennis player who is now having some money problems hire an ex-school mate to kill his wealthy and not faithfull wife so he can receive her heritage. The complex plan is detailed set, but he doesn't count on one suprise: she is not killed, instead she can kill the assassin. To make things worse she accused of murdering. From this moment on the film becomes a mouse and cat game trying to prove her innocent.
The cast is small but perfect. Grace Kelly plays the ingenous wife with so much beauty and dignity that it is impossible not to fall for her. On the other hand, it is impossible no to repulse her husband, perfectly played by Ray Milland. He is so false and disgusting that everybody roots for him get discovered. The script is perfect: everything makes sense and everything is in its right place.
Hitchcock's direction is irrepressible. Even though it is based on play and suffer from some problems, as I aforementioned. The plot is so interesting and catching, that these `problems' get invisible through the movie. Moreover, hsi peculiar sense of humor makes the film lighter and better to watch. The murdering scene is amazing, and I suggest you not to even blink, in order not to lose any moment of this sequence. The after-murdering develops in a incredible speed, Grace's trial is one of the most inventive of the cinema. Pay attention to her expressions and body movement during this specific scene.
This film has been remade a couple of times. I suggest you to check "A Perfect Murder" featuring Michael Douglas and Gwyneth Paltrow. Both movies have the same premisse, but are led to different consequences. And the two films are good in their own way....more info
- Murderously charming...
I've always thought Ray Milland was a fine actor, even though his choice of roles could, generously, be called eclectic; which is probably why we can enjoy him in this production, as well as such diverse offerings as the Noir Classic "The Big clock," "Lost Weekend," for which he deservedly won the Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of a raging alcoholic, as well as "The Man With X-Ray Eyes," and... "The Thing With Two Heads!" But for me, the part of "Tony Wendice" in Hitchcock's "Dial M For Murder" is the quintessential Milland role, suave, debonair, urbane, and utterly, ruthlessly, murderously, charming!
Frederick Knott, adapting his own stage production, wrote the screenplay, and Hitchcock wisely chose to film the material "straight," without opening it up too much, but with one startling exception, which I'll come to later. As befits a stage production, the vast majority of "Dial M" takes place in just one location, Tony and Margot Wendice's living room, located in a genteel suburb of 1950's London.
The plot is deceptively simple; Tony is a retired Tennis Pro, being more-or-less supported by his wife Margot, played by a luminous Grace Kelly in an early film role. Tony's career meant that he was away for extended periods of time, playing in various tournaments, and during one of his absences Margot fell head-over-heals in love with an American writer visiting London. That was a year ago, and since then Tony has cold-bloodedly plotted to kill his wife, all the while playing the part of the devoted husband. But after a chance encounter he decides to blackmail an old acquaintance, a vaguely seedy con-man and womanizer, into committing the crime for him by following Tony's plan to the letter, a plan he claims is the "Perfect Murder."
Oh but it were; the plan may well have been perfect, but its execution - sorry! - is anything but. In a superbly staged scene the murder is bungled, and Tony arrives home to his shocked and near hysterical wife, very much alive, and the dead body of her assailant stretched out on the living room floor. Now you can see the wheels turning as a desperate Tony has to come up with a "Plan B" on the fly, and with the police on their way. As I said earlier, this is the quintessential Milland, and he plays the part of Tony with such relish and aplomb, that before you know it, you find yourself rooting for the cad; he's still trying to kill-off his wife, and you can't help hoping he gets away with it... an amazing performance!!!
"Dial M" has always been one of my favorite Hitchcock films; he seems to excel when working under almost impossible, self-imposed, restrictions. For other examples see the superlative "Rope" with James Stewart, and what is probably the most extreme example, the magnificent "Lifeboat" with Tallulah Bankhead. Here, as in the other two examples, we have a nail-biting thriller set in just one location, although there are a couple of external shots and a very brief, heavily stylized, "courtroom" scene.
But what sets this film apart from every other Hitchcock production is that it was made in 3D, a decision that was, apparently, forced on the director by the studio to cash in on the briefly popular craze. I'm lucky enough to have seen "Dial M" in the theatre in 3D, and while the main use of the process was usually to generate a cheap scare or giggle for the audience, Hitch made it his own by employing it with subtly and care.
Unlike almost all other 3D films from that time there're no monsters shambling towards us, no spears, chairs, or flaming meteors bursting from the screen. As you watch the film "flat" you'll notice that the camera often moves around the room looking "up" at the cast, and there's invariably a piece of furniture, a dresser or a table with a vase on it for instance, between the actor and the audience. Watching the film in 3D is really quite amazing, by taking this subtle approach Hitch is able to put us right into the room with the cast, and I often found myself trying to look "around" the furniture at the characters!
The one scene where Hitch really lets rip with the technique is the famous murder scene, where Margot is reaching behind her for the pair of scissors - there's a representation of the scene on the DVD cover artwork - and her hand appears to be coming out of the screen at you! (It's a shame that a 3D version of this film hasn't been issued on DVD, I'm sure that it would fit on a dual layer disc.)
Grace Kelly does sterling work as the betrayed Margot, Anthony Dawson is effective as "Swann" the murderer, although Robert Cummings is unfortunately bland as Margot's boyfriend "Mark." The only other actor who really shines is John Williams as "Chief Inspector Hubbard," who pays a visit to clear up a few details the following day. Williams' Hubbard is terribly "British," does not suffer fools gladly, and instinctively knows that the initial story of a killer coming in through the garden windows is a lie. Just as in Milland's portrayal, you can see the gears turning as he reasons events through; rather like Sherlock Holmes he discards what cannot be, and then by a process of deduction and elimination, whatever is left, no matter how improbable it seems, has to be the truth!
As I've indicated already, the film belongs to Milland, and the final scene where Tony discovers that the game is most certainly up will leave you smiling and shaking your head at the sheer nerve of the character, as that "murderous charm" shines like a thousand suns!!! This is a perfect gem of a film, "classic" Hitchcock, and I would recommend it highly.
- Not hitchcock's best,...but still a very good film,...
Hitchcock close to his best,..very good movie for a variety of reasons. Although the plot doesn't contain too many intersting twists, it is executed very effectively as hitchcock often did and raises the movie from good to he "would own" level. If you buy this you will not be disappointed. Hitchcock's best work would have to be Vertigo, North by Northwest and Psycho but this won't disappoint at all....more info
- Dial E for Excellence
'Dial M for Murder' has many of the touches that one associates with Hitchcock, mainly, his masterly use of building up suspense and the way he makes you side with the villain, despite yourself. The acting is excellent. Ray Milland is convincing as the charming but devious husband who attempts to murder his wife, Grace Kelly, who makes a compelling and sympathetic victim. Only Robert Cummings grates as the insufferable 'hero', although this may have had to do more with the part than the actor himself.
The flaws of the films are a slight stiffness. There are two reasons for this. 'Dial M for Murder' was originally a play and most of the action takes place in one room. Necessary on a static stage, but limiting and unnatural in a film. It was also shot in 3D at the insistence, and against Hitchcock's objections, of the studios. Since the cameras necessary for 3D were bulky and difficult to manoeuvre, there is a lack of fluidity that adds to the feeling that you are watching a play rather than a film, even if it is an excellent play. However, Hitchcock still manages to produce good cinema. His slow build-up to the attempted murder scene and its thrilling climax is to see the master at his best.
A wonderful film that never bores and often startles. Not quite "up there" with Hitchcock's best, but an excellent film nevertheless....more info
- Good Old Murder-Mystery
Recently I have noticed that I enjoy the older movies. I bought Dial M for Murder because I had heard how good it was. The comparisons between the plot of that murder mystery and the typical murder mystery of today is that this one was a little less predictable. As the story evolves you have an idea what is going to happen, but it still keeps you on the edge of your seat, until it actually happens. Definitely worth adding to your collection....more info
- Enjoyable But Mild
Although Hitchcock's version of the popular play was considered a shocker in its day, repetition of the story in so many versions has made the story itself seem rather tame: a husband, angered by his wife's affair and in desperate need of money, blackmails an acquaintance to murder her--but his plans go awry when his wife kills her attacker in self-defense.
Both Grace Kelly and Robert Cummings, as the faithless wife and her mild-mannered lover, give enjoyable performances, but the real success of the film is Ray Milland, who brings a slightly oily charm to his role of murderous husband. Hitchcock's approach to the material is somewhat hampered by the fact that the film was originally shot in 3-D, and although the scene in which star Grace Kelly confronts her attacker is justly famous, the film is essentially a meticulous recreation of the stage success rather than a Hitchcock original.
Although familiarity with the material robs if of impact, most viewers will find Hitchcock's DIAL M FOR MURDER entertaining in an old-fashioned sort of way. For myself, I wish the film could be released to videotape or DVD in the original 3-D format, so we might see how effectively Hitchcock handled the requirements of the form. It might very well breathe new life into an old favorite....more info
- Pilot for Columbo
Instead of an LA cop fumbling around hiding his astronomical IQ and his dectection acuity, Hitchcock uses a Brit.
The audience knows the guilty party and so does the Brit cop intuitively right from the moment he opens the 3-D door in your face....more info
- Hitchcock made SO MANY great movies
Alfred Hitchcock had already begun work on Rear Window when he took on the project to direct Dial M for Murder, based on the successful play by Frederick Knott. For the film, Hitchcock chose to cast his favorite leading lady of the time, Grace Kelly, as the embattled Margot Wendice. Kelly would also star in Rear Window and Hitchcock's subsequent To Catch a Thief. It wasn't Hitchcock's preference to shoot Dial M for Murder in Warnercolor 3D (the cameras were large), and the film is seldom screened in 3D, but Hitchcock's use of the technique is notable for its service to the story rather than just being a gimmick. In the film Margot Wendice is a wealthy heiress whose playboy husband, Tony (Ray Milland), recognizes his dependence on his wife's fortune. When Tony begins to suspect he is losing Margot's affection to writer Mark Halliday (Robert Cummings), he also begins to fear he will lose her wealth. This leads the callous husband to craft a plan for his wife's death. However, when the plan goes awry, Tony is quick to turn circumstance into a second opportunity to destroy his wife....more info
- Superior Hitchcock with an enchanting Grace Kelly
This is a fine example of the kind of mystery that little old ladies from Pasadena (or Russell Square) adore. Perhaps Arsenic and Old Lace (1944) starring Cary Grant might be comparable in its genteel and bloodless ability to glue us to the screen.
This is certainly one of Hitchcock's best, but most of the credit must go to a devilishly clever play written by Frederick Knott from which he adapted the screenplay. (He also wrote the play upon which Wait Until Dark (1967) starring Audrey Hepburn was based.) Hitchcock does a good job in not tinkering unnecessarily with the material. He also has the exquisitely beautiful Grace Kelly to play the part of Margot Wendice.
Ray Milland plays, with a kind of high-toned Brit panache, her diabolical husband, Tony Wendice, a one-time tennis star who married mostly for security. John Williams is the prim and proper Chief Inspector Hubbard. He lends to the part a bit of Sherlock Holmesian flair. One especially liked his taking a moment to comb his mustache after the case is solved. Robert Cummings, unfortunately plays Margot's American boyfriend as inventively as a sawhorse. For those of you who might have blinked, Hitchcock makes his traditional appearance in the photo on the wall from Tony Wendice's undergraduate days.
The fulcrum of the plot is the latchkey. It is the clue that (literally) unlocks the mystery. There is a modernized redoing of this movie called A Perfect Murder (1998) starring Michael Douglas and Gwyneth Paltrow in which a similar business with latchkeys is employed. I am not very good with clues so it was only after seeing that movie and Dial M for Murder for the second time that I finally understood what happened. Follow the latchkey!
Of course I was too distracted by Grace Kelly to fully appreciate such intricacies. I found myself struck with the ironic notion that anyone, even a cuckolded husband, might want to kill Grace Kelly or that a jury might find her guilty of anything! She remains in my psyche America's fairytale princess who quit Hollywood at the height of her popularity after only five years and eleven movies to become a real princess by marrying Prince Rainier of Monaco. Something was lost there, and something was gained. She was in essence the original Jackie Kennedy Onassis. I think, however, that the old saw about the man who marries for money, earning it, might apply to American princesses as well.
At any rate, Grace Kelly's cool and sublime bearing was on fine display here. Hitchcock cloths her in discreet nightgowns and fitted (but certainly not clinging) dresses that show off her delicate figure and her exquisite arms and hint coyly at her subtle sexuality. She was 25-years-old, stunningly beautiful, and in full confidence of her ability as an actress. She had just finished starring opposite James Stewart in another splendid Hitchcock one-room mystery, Rear Window (1954), and was about to make The Country Girl (1954) with Bing Crosby for which she would win an Oscar for Best Actress.
So see this for Grace Kelly who makes Gwyneth Paltrow (whom I adore) look downright gawky, and for Ray Milland whose urbane scheming seems a layer or two of hell removed from Michael Douglas's evil manipulations.
By the way, the "original theatrical trailer" preceding these Warner Brothers Classic videos is what we used to call the "Coming Attractions"--that is, clips directly from the movie and a promo. You might want to fast forward to the movie itself....more info
- 3 stars out of 4
The Bottom Line:
Dial M for Murder is much better in its first half than in the predictable conclusion and it can feel a bit stagey at times, but Milland is delicious and the Master's direction is inspired: it's not one of Hitch's best, but it's a solid film....more info
- Hitch's first colour film and the beautiful Grace Kelly
Although Hitchcock considered this film one of his lesser efforts, DIAL M FOR MURDER (based on the hit Broadway play by Frederick Knott) contains enough thrills and twists to keep fans happy, and Hitchcock's touch is evident in every scene.
Margot Wendice (Grace Kelly) seems to have the perfect marriage with her tennis champion husband Tony (Ray Milland). But we soon learn that Margot has another man on the side, Mark Halliday (Bob Cummings). When Tony discovers the affair, he plots the death of Margot at the hands of a 'burglar'. But the plan goes awry when Margot manages to free herself and kills her assailant. Tony accuses his bewildered wife of murder and it's up to the resourceful Inspector Hubbard (John Williams) to solve the case and prove Margot's innocence.
While the film doesn't have the same scope or impact as earlier films like "Shadow of a Doubt" or "Notorious", DIAL M FOR MURDER is the perfect film version of the Knott play. Hitchcock wisely did not open up the play too much, instead keeping the action almost exclusively in the Wendice apartment. Rather than creating a claustrophobic feeling, innovative camera angles and blocking create a "play-like" atmosphere without the cramped confines of the space becoming an issue. The performances are fine. Ray Milland delivers one of his finest portrayals, and gives the character of Tony a softness and vulnerability that other actors might not have tapped into. In her first Hitchcock film, Grace Kelly is amazing as the targeted wife, looking scrumptious in some lovely gowns. Bob Cummings tries to give the one-dimensional role of Mark some life but the viewer is always more taken with Milland and Kelly. The supporting players John Williams and Anthony Dawson (as the ill-fated victim) both deliver handsomely. Originally filmed and screened in 3-D (and having the distinction of being Hitch's first colour movie), DIAL M FOR MURDER was a sound critical and financial success and remains an enjoyable and entertaining tale from Hitchcock's gallery of films....more info
- Keyed up
They don't make 'em like this anymore. Just as well, we wouldn't make head nor tail of it. He took that key instead of the other key which didn't fit that door so he took that key from the bag and changed it with the key from under the step and then that key wouldn't fit the lock so he changed it for the key in the coat- sheesh! Doesn't answer why I can never find my own bloody keys. I could murder a pint. Anyway, nothing beats Ingrid Bergman in 'Gaslight': "Knife, what knife? You want me to put down the knife? But there is no knife. I am mad, you see, that's it, quite MAD!" Wouldn't work the same with a key in her hand. Which wasn't in anycase the key to the attic where everynight he....etc....more info
- This is a great Alfred Hitchcock classic
This movie is a great thriller that should be put on DVD. It has great actors and a wonderful plot. This movie is one of Hitchcock's finest films. The tension and action in this movie is very high. This movie is automatically a great classic. See it! You won't regret it....more info
- The Perfect "Murder"
Hitchcock's immaculate rendering of the stage thriller is one of that rare breed: the underrated classic. Without significantly altering the action by "opening it up", Hitchcock still creates something thrillingly cinematic. This has to be one of the finest stage adaptations ever. It may be one of the best mysteries ever made as well. Indeed, it's amazing how the play's text is riveting even when it's art-less carrying on about latch-keys and the specifics of the planned murder. (This contradicts Chandler's otherwise strong thesis in his essay The Simple Art of Murder. These details aren't supposed to hold our interest once we know the story's outcome, but they do.)
Much of how this is achieved is through the stellar cast particularly Ray Milland who turns in one of the great Hitchcock performances. As we watch him cover-up his crimes and avoid detection, he's like a dapper Norman Bates. He's really a psychopath, but completely charming and we're thankfully spared any insights into his character or motivation. His scene with Anthony Dawson is mesmerizing and one of the best in all Hitchcock. (Right up there with Janet Leigh in Anthony Perkins's parlor which it resembles.) Dawson is also superb.
Grace Kelly is terrific in the first half if a little wan in the later scenes. (This could have allowed Hitchcock a chance to examine a distaff take on his wronged man theme, but by that point we need to wrap things up.) The much-maligned Bob Cummings has some effective bits at the start, even if he does seem like he's playing Harold Hill towards the end. John Williams is marvelous, but seems a bit stagy compared to Milland's effortless command of the screen. Very good score runs throughout.
There are good insights in the accompanying documentary from Peter Bogdonovich and M. Night Shyamalan who comes across as an eager Hitch fanboy. (Richard Schickel trying to invoke a class-conscious reading of the hero is silly and clearly something he's making up on the spot.)...more info
- What planet am I on?
I so totally disagree with all the glowing reviews. There was no suspense for me whatsoever! First off, the characters were types and were never fully developed, never even slightly developed actually. Ray Milland who is a great actor put on a smirkly fake I love you face at the start and left it at that. There was no way to hate him or love him, all you could do was try not to fall asleep. Grace Kelly was ok, but mostly just good looking. That guy who played her boyfriend reminded me of someone from a beach movie.
The plot was all wooden figures doing things.and then all of a sudden THE KEY, the key here the key there everywhere a key key, look the key oh no a key. I kid you not, that was the whole movie! This could have been a great movie if the characters had been fleshed out. If you could love/hate the villain, but still root for the poor victim! Bad bad movie!
Also it's really hard to feel sorry for Grace Kelly in the least when she's with that guy. Again if it was written better, the affair would have given her depth instead of just making her unsympathetic. bad MOVIE!...more info
- Villainous Ray Milland Plots Murder of Beautiful Grace Kelly
Ray Milland and Grace Kelly are an unhappily married couple in this Hitchcock thriller. Milland plays Tony Wendice, a retired tennis pro. Wendice has discovered that his wealthy wife has been unfaithful with an American writer played by Robert Cummings. Wendice decides to murder his wife - a murder to be committed by a shady acquaintance from his college days.
If the murder is successful, Wendice will inherit his wife's money. Poor Grace Kelly. What horrors await?...more info
- Dial "M" for Murder
I really enjoyed this movie! Grace Kelly and Robert Cummings give a stunning preformance. Ray Milland also gives a good preformance.Alfred Hitchcock is a great director in this great movie. I give it 5 stars!...more info
- The Best of the Best: Hitchcock was a Lot More Than the Master of Suspense
Let's forget for a moment that Alfred Hitchcock was the best director at creating and sustaining gut wrenching suspense. That will always be his trademark; the ability to milk the tension of a scene to the very last drop.
The Master of Suspense? It's just too easy to classify him as this suspense thriller hack and dismiss his many virtuoso talents.
What I'd like to remember Mr. Hitchcock for is his ingenious ability to create a sense of pathos & psychosis in most of his main protagonists and villains; meanwhile having us relate to them in their immoral behaviors. Deftly, Mr. Hitchcock uses this transference (from screen character to viewer) so we can relate and identify directly to their situations and motivations however moral or immoral.
In Dial M for Murder, we can't help but to go against our own moral judgement and wish that the murder of Grace Kelly's character goes as planned by her husband. In the film's expository, a murder plan is hatched. Mr. Hitchcock masterfully sets up this scene with a changing of the point of view in the story and main characters. We are soon aware that the Ray Milland character is the central figure and he has the central motivation throughout the film. (although this changes later in the story)
What's haunting and eerie about this film's premise is Hitchcock's use of the point of view throughout the film. We see the film through Milland's eyes and there are many POV shots to prove it.
With a bit of reservation, when the dramatic first half climax arrives we hope that the hired killer stays long enough to carry off his execution of the Grace Kelly character. The reason is because Hitchcock has conditioned our response with tension and suspense in this highly dramatic situation. We see Milland's watch has stopped, a restless hired killer ready to abort, a man taking up precious time on a pay phone, and the extreme close up of the dial number. In "western" film narrative with all of these suspense elements inter cut together we expect a big payoff. And the audience wants to see this murder carried out.
Variations of this theme were played out beautifully in Robert De Niro's, Travis Bickle character at the ending climax of Taxi Driver and Anthony Hopkin's Hannibal character in The Silence of the Lambs. (When Hannibal escapes that weird detainment configuration and Travis shoots down the pimps we are rooting for murder)
This is something Mr. Hitchcock knew way ahead of its time and it's a very odd dynamic; a compelling reality in the audience to movie-story relationship....more info
- Outstanding Movie
One of Alfred Hitcock's greatest films .... Also one of my all-time favorite films.
The English detective won 'all the marbles''...more info