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.
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 … more
Byron has been actively involved in theatre since the age of 12. He has had a great variety of roles (both on-stage and off). In addition he has hosted the long-running "Show Business" programme … more
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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 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