Dial M for Murder

Dial M for Murder ★★★★

Dial M for Murder holds an interesting place in the pantheon of Alfred Hitchcock classics. On one hand, it contains the gamut of Hitchcock motifs. Grace Kelly as the complicated heroine, shot mostly in one location, male malevolence, a shocking act of violence; all beautifully colored in technicolor splendor. On the other, the film is unremarkable at times and Hitchcock at his most gimmicky. Filmed using early 3D technology, there are a few intentional shots with objects reaching directly to the camera. Grace Kelly’s outstretched hand aside, they mostly come off rather corny. The plot itself is quite melodramatic, with a husband wanting to arrange the murder of his wife to collect her wealth and get revenge for a past affair. Hitchcock showcases the patriarchal control over women at the time and the helplessness of their situations, but doesn’t elaborate on this theme like in Vertigo. Grace Kelly portrays Margot Wendice with the cool confidence she’s famed for, but also showcases nuance as well. She’s easily the best part of the film and dominates the screen with her quietly commanding presence. 
The other actors are fine and do their job, but failed to leave an impression on me. Frederick Knot adapted his own stage play and penned the script. To me, this doesn’t lend itself to the cinematic space and works better as a stage play. When it comes to Hitchcock’s “all in one place” thrillers, this is probably the weakest entry (have yet to see Lifeboat), especially when compared to Rope and Rear Window. But a weak Hitchcock film is still more entertaining than a large portion of the cinematic landscape. Dial M for Murder is a fluffy and thrilling popcorn film designed to entertain and nothing more. It utilizes it’s one set piece well and effectively creates a suspense and feelings of injustice within the audience. The technicolor pops of the screen even without the 3D and Hitchcock’s tight and meticulous blocking is always a wonder to behold. For many directors, this would be their best film. For Hitchcock, it’s a mid level entry that despite its faults, is still a great flick to turn on this October. - 7.5/10

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