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Dial M for Murder

An Alfred Hitchcock movie

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An Alfred Hitchcock Classic

  • Dec 6, 2000
  • by
Pros: Ensemble cast, director, plot, b&w

Cons: no visible chemistry between female & male leads

A few weeks ago while scanning the preview channel I saw Dial M For Murder being shown on the Arts & Entertainment channel. The movie started five minutes earlier but I was quickly drawn into the plot.

Dial M For Murder is shown in Black & White dated from 1954 lasting about 1.5 hours. I had never seen this before and noticed that Grace Kelley was part of this ensemble. Unfortunately the movie is all about her intended death so she is not visible to the viewer for much of the movie.

Margo is married to Tony, played by Ray Milland while having an affair with Mark, a friend of theirs for the past year. Tony is aware of this but keeps it to himself. He contacts a college acquaintance that he has been tracking his movements and it seems like an interrogation when Tony lays out the plan to murder his wife thus being committed by this “stranger”.

Tony then walks around the living room showing how this event will happen. He knows how many steps to get to the phone, how long it will take Margo to answer the phone. They turn off the light while doing a practice death scene. There are several specifics that play a key role in this taking place with no glitches. They discuss the closing of the screen door to the porch, the placement of the key, the time the telephone call will be placed from Tony to Margo.

Later that afternoon Mark, Tony and Margo are chatting in the living room like three regular friends. Mark leaves while Tony has some sort of meeting he must go to a restaurant and they discuss what Margo will do at home.

The plan seems to go according to schedule but Tony is to be placing a call to his home where Margo would answer the phone and the “stranger” would enter from the screen door. Some things changed that made all this come apart. Margo had her sewing box out and left it open, which had the tools she needed to defend herself during the attack.

Back at the restaurant Tony seems very anxious while checking his watch and asks what the time is from someone at the table. It turns out his watch was not adjusted to the correct time. I am unclear if this was part of his plan or he made an error in this one step. He called home and heard the struggle and forgot to make his other call to cover his tracks and rushed home via taxi.

When he got home he moved some things around and took the key out of the “stranger’s” pocket and kept it. He was under the impression that this was his key left at the stairwell for the killer to enter the apartment.

He then briefs Margo on what to tell the Inspector and many twists and turns kept me glued to the couch waiting for the next clue. The details in Dial M For Murder were well thought out, funny and thrilling all at the same time.

The tables get turned when the Inspector investigates who the killer was and there is a letter placed in the coat pocket that was between Margo and Mark. Tony realizes the story of this stranger coming into the apartment does not work and then plots to frame Margo for trying to kill this man saying he was blackmailing her.

It was turned once again while Margo was in custody after the trial, this time the Inspector made arrangements that revolved around the key and the results are what truly makes this a Hitchcock flick to see.

There are generations of moviegoers who were born long after the death of Grace Kelly and Alfred Hitchcock who would benefit from watching these talents. This is available for about fifteen dollars at Amazon. Also try looking for this at video stores for rental and/or purchase. When joining movie clubs through the mail and the internet there are many older classics and this may be offered that way.

I would say the only thing that I noticed was no chemistry between the female character and the two males she was involved with. I bet if this were done today there would be another twist to have her involved with the Inspector as well. Dial M For Murder is truly a black and white gem worth watching.


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More Dial M for Murder reviews
review by . April 05, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
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, …
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Bonnie Sayers ()
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single parenting two teens on autism spectrum. Working out daily, Zumba & Bodybugg enthusiast.
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About this movie


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 ofDial 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 madeRear Windowwith Hitchcock.Dial M for Murderwas 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 Mwas remade in 1998 asA Perfect Murder, a film that changed and expanded the material, with no improvement on the clean, witty original.--Robert Horton
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Genre: Classics
DVD Release Date: September 7, 2004
Runtime: 105 minutes
Studio: Warner Home Video
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