Dial M for Murder

Dial M for Murder ★★★½

This finds Hitchcock working in an atypical mode, being as it is closer to an Agatha Christie-style drawing-room mystery than a thriller, and judging by its quality and the fact that he made few films like this elsewhere in his career, it's difficult to understand why he bothered making this one. Frederick Knott's story is admittedly very clever, but there's something complacent in the way it so heavily foregrounds plot mechanics, like it never occurred to him that there could be other things going on here - this is a fairly dry script, all told, with not much humour and no really interesting characters (and barely any room for the director or the cast to make them interesting either; the only actor who really shines is the characteristically avuncular John Williams, as one of the most "sympathetic" policemen in all of Hitchcock). The film would be totally devoid of any classic Hitchcockisms if it weren't for the genuinely effective bits of suspense scattered throughout, particularly the central not-quite-murder scene and the scene in which Ray Milland's husband goes about covering up his own crime by framing his wife for another.

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