Dial M for Murder

Dial M for Murder ★★★

How do you go about writing a detective story?

One of those films that I know for certain that I've seen before, but it's been so long since then, and I remembered so little from it, that I am counting it as a first-time viewing. I vaguely recollect enjoying the film whenever I did watch it as a young lad, and maybe tastes have changed, or maybe I wasn't paying enough attention, but I was for the most part surprisingly lukewarm on this. Now, let's get something stated here: The worst Alfred Hitchcock movies are still better than what many others could crank out, and there are aspects that remain worthy of admiration. For one, while Alfred also thrives in black and white, I also adore how and when he uses color in his films, and this is no exception. It's a good-looking film through and through, the visuals popping in nearly every frame. The usage of extreme close-ups and exaggerated reds also made for the film in various instances standing out as aesthetically unique from other Hitchcock features. Something else I liked was the concept of the film itself, where we have this long build-up to an attempted murder, the attempt goes awry, and then the way you thought the film was going to go makes way for something very different. Again, good concept, very much something twisty Alfred would do, but most of it in actual execution felt fairly weak to me. The acting isn't impactful, the pacing can be a bit of a drag, the dialogue often feels too basic, essential things like that which are out of place. I know Alfred can be the king of elevating stories through his direction, but there should be some sense that on its own, the written material could still carry itself without him. I did not get the feeling with that here. Instead, it's a flimsy pulp story that would belong in the bargain bin if not for the Hitchcock influence. It's a shame, and maybe I'll think I'm wrong later, but for now, this gets a "meh." That's a step above an "eh", but not by very much. C'est la vie.


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