Film

Dial M for Murder


Dial M for Murder (1954)
★★★★ / ★★★★

Adapted from a play by Frederick Knott and directed by Alfred Hitchcock, “Dial M for Murder” is a top-notch thriller about a husband (Ray Milland) who plots to kill his own wife (Grace Kelly) so that he could inherit all of her money. The wife is having an affair with a writer (Robert Cummings) and the two are so close to telling the husband about their relationship, totally unaware of the fact that the husband has his own suspicions. I love how meticulous this film was when it comes to its pacing and detail so that everything made sense in the end. I noticed that the movie was divided into three parts: the first thiry minutes was how the husband essentially forced another man (Anthony Dawson) to kill his wife, the next thirty-five minutes was the actual murder and the first couple of twists in the story, and the last thiry-five minutes was how the good guys tried to capture the villian of the story. The question is, considering this is a Hitchcock film, will they succeed? Most of the picture was shot indoors, which reminded me of Hitchcock’s other film called “Rope,” but that doesn’t make it any less compelling. In fact, I think it worked in its favor because the audiences really got the chance to not only get very familiar with the scene of the crime but also play detective when one very curious and astute inspector (John Williams) suspected foul play. I also enjoyed the fact that Milland’s character was very smart so catching him was no easy feat. With most thrillers nowadays, they succumb to big chase scenes with violence (which can be pretty entertaining) but this one relied more on the subtleties of the characters’ actions and the dialogue between them. There were times when even I was lost because I kept trying to keep up with what a particular character wants to prove or suggest to another. Eventually, however, everything comes to light and there was a nice twist in the end that even I didn’t see coming. I’ve seen most of Hitchcock’s pictures and I have to say that this one is one of the most fun to watch because I really do love movies with a lot of talking. It also helped that the film had a certain sureness about itself so I was absolutely fascinated with how it would all turn out. If you love Hitchcock’s films and have not seen this one, do yourself a favor and watch it now.

3 replies »

  1. I did myself a favor some years ago and since then I kept being intrigued by this film. The first time I watched it, I was overwhelmed by its cinematographic beauty: the colors, the settings, the furniture, Grace, Ray and Robert. The second time, I asked myself: What is the actual mistery? Of course: The whereabouts of the second ledge key of Tony and Margots’ apartment! The third time I watched this film, I payed attention to Chief Inspector Hubbard, because he seemed to be knowing exactly what he was doing. And ever since I discovered his cleverness and the clue to Frederic Knotts’ perfect piece of writing, I have been watching it over and over again, and simply enjoy everything: The dialogues, the style of dressing, and of course the music! Dimitri Tiomkin knew exactly how to write the right tone of music for the right emotion. Dial M for Murder for me is the diamant in the Hitchcock jewelry case.

  2. So did I! I used to think that at the end of the film, when Tony entered his apartment and found all of them standing there, he gave Inspector Hubbard the key that had been laying under the staircase step, when he said: Oh, by the way… But it was Inspector Hubbards’ own key Tony put on the desk, because the Inspector switched overcoats some scenes before…What a victory for the Inspector! No wonder Dimitri Tiomkin frivolously played the flute when the Inspector combed his moustache!

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