Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Dial M For Murder

1954 **** ½

I just realized I created a sub-theme: Films featured on my skin. When people ask me what my favorite Hitchcock film is I refer to the ten on my arm. I have a difficult time singling one out when they are all so good. Dial M begins with husband Tony Wendice revealing his desire to off his cheating wife Margot to an old college mate. When the man asks why he chose to tell him about it, Tony  reveals some dirt he has on the man and proceeds to blackmail him into committing the murder for him. He lays out an intricate detailed plan that is virtually foolproof. Or is it? As Tony’s friend and murder mystery writer Mark Halliday states so eloquently, “Well, because in stories things usually turn out the way the author wants them to; and in real life they don’t…always.”
So as you can imagine things go horribly wrong. The killer gets into the apartment just fine but in the midst of strangling her, Margot grabs a pair of scissors and stabs the perpetrator leaving him dead on the floor. Tony must rush home and destroy any evidence that may connect him to the crime while incriminating Margot making it look like foul play on her part.

This is a beautiful example of Hitch’s masterful perception. The story unfolds like peeling off the layers of an onion in slow succession. Even after his plan goes awry, Tony thinks quickly on his feet and turns the tables in his favor. Tony’s smug belief that his superior intelligence has him in the clear is really his downfall, he just doesn’t count on anyone ever getting a leg up on him. Ray Milland and Grace Kelly are perfectly cast as husband and wife but this is really no surprise, Hitch was so selective when casting for his films.  What disappointment he must have felt when Kelly retired from film while she was still so young, she was his perfect leading lady.


Octopunk said...

I've heard weird stuff about Hitchcock and his blonde leading ladies, namely that he was possessive and controlling and pretty damn angry at Grace for escaping his clutches. He called her "Princess Disgrace."

Love the man's movies, though. So good. I remember the opening scene of this one just dripping with sinister zeal.

JPX said...

There's a new book out on Hitchcock that essentially paints him as a monster who tortured his actors. He was apparently the opposite of the chubby fun guy we see at the beginning of Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

After reading your review I realized that I have never seen this film! It's going on the list.

Catfreeek said...

As a man he was a vile person he had many issues with his looks and therefore used his power to take what he wanted.

As a director he was a genius.

AC said...

i've never seen this either, sounds great!

Johnny Sweatpants said...

I was embarrassed to admit I hadn't seen this 3 years ago when Landshark reviewed it and I still haven't! I believe it's playing in San Francisco this month. I always try to catch Hitchcock on the big screen when possible. Good review!

DCD said...

I also have never seen this! We should have a mass watching.