Dial M for Murder

Dial M for Murder ★★★½

One of 30 Hitchcock films

Rewatched for a conversation with Rosemary and Rick, Dial M... isn't one of Hitchcock's most personal films or one of his best, but it's a slickly made thriller with a good Ray Milland performance and a neat Rózsa score. Based on a Frederick Knott play, it tells the story of an ex-tennis ace who wants to get rid of his cheating wife. So, he devises the perfect murder and gets an old Uni friend to do it. Of course, it backfires when the wife ends up killing him in self defence. But then he has another idea...

Dial... has two main issues for me. One is Grace Kelly. As I've detailed on here before, I find her a very dull actress, light on emotiveness and heavy on blank-faced, choked-voice performance. She's definitely the weak link of the cast here, though she's better than in The Swan. Quite simply, I never relate to her emotional torment. It all seems too delicately mannered. Robert Cummings is also rather dull, but happily Milland, Williams and Dawson are all great. The conversation between Dawson and Milland where Milland explains his plan is the best bit of the film, tense and exciting thanks to the great script. But the script happens to the film's achilles heel in the last half of the film as it degenerates into an overly-talky and static affair. Hitchcock never really opens up the story outside the living room, though largely this isn't his fault, more to do with the 3D technology that he attempted to exploit. The curious shooting choices, like filming from between two glasses on a table, was a way to immerse the viewer in the drama. But because of the flaws in the tech, it really didn't pan out, leaving an only quasi-successful film.

So, not really a favourite Hitchcock of mine, but a decent way to spend nearly two hours.

1. Marnie
2. Rear Window
3. Psycho
4. Rope
5. The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)
6. Vertigo
7. Sabotage
8. The Trouble with Harry
9. The Birds
10. Murder!
11. Frenzy
12. The Lady Vanishes
13. Saboteur
14. Shadow of a Doubt
15. The Lodger
16. Young and Innocent
17. Dial M for Murder
18. North by Northwest
19. Notorious
20. The Ring
21. Strangers on a Train
22. Suspicion
23. Spellbound
24. Blackmail
25. The 39 Steps
26. Under Capricorn
27. Rebecca
28. To Catch a Thief
29. Waltzes from Vienna
30. The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934)

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