5.0 out of 5 stars The perfect murder
Alfred Hitchcock committed many fictional murders onscreen, but I suspect he knew that few of them would plausibly work in real life.
In fact, "Dial M for Murder" is all about how murders can never be pulled off perfectly -- especially the complex, think-on-your-feet types that are usually seen in murder mysteries. In this adaptation of the stage play,...
Published 4 months ago by EA Solinas
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable But Mild
Although Hitchcock's version of the popular play was considered a shocker in its day, repetition of the story in so many versions has made the story itself seem rather tame: a husband, angered by his wife's affair and in desperate need of money, blackmails an acquaintance to murder her--but his plans go awry when his wife kills her attacker in self-defense.
Published on Feb. 12 2002 by Gary F. Taylor
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Hitchcock thriller with first rate cast and good plot,
"Dial M For Murder" is one of Hitchcock's lesser known movies from the fifties. It was taken from Frederick Knott's successful stage play and he also wrote the screenplay. The film had a strong cast which included Ray Milland, Robert Cummings, and, in her first film for Hitchcock, Grace Kelly. The supporting cast included John Williams and Anthony Dawson. The film was made in 3-D but never released in this form here in the U.K.
Tony Wendice (Ray Milland) is aware that his wife Margot (Grace Kelly) is having an affair with Mark Halliday (Robert Cummings). Margot is hoping for a divorce but her husband has other plans - Tony is alarmed about the thought of having to live without his wife's money so he decides to have her murdered. By chance he runs into an old college acquaintance called C. A. Swann (Anthony Dawson) who is known to have a criminal past and has in fact been in prison. Tony decides that Swann would be the ideal man to do the murder as he has no connection with Margot and offers him £1,000 to do the deed. Swann is reluctant at first so Tony has to resort to blackmail threatening Swann with exposure of some of his past criminal activities to persuade him to become involved. On the night of the planned murder Tony is dining out at a restaurant with Mark and some others (which is to be his alibi). He has left a key under the stair carpet for Swann to enter the apartment and at 11.0 p.m. Tony will phone Margot from the restaurant - Swann will be hiding behind the curtains and when Margot answers the phone he will strangle her from behind. The perfect crime - or is it? Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances things don't quite work out as planned and there are many twists and turns before the police inspector (John Williams) has got it all figured out.
Some favourite lines from the film:
Robert Cummings (to Grace Kelly): "I can see this is going to be a rough evening. All of us saying nice things to each other".
Ray Milland (to Anthony Dawson): "I thought of three different ways of killing him. I even thought of killing her - and that seemed a far more sensible idea".
Kelly (to Cummings): "Do you really believe in the perfect murder?".
John Williams (to Cummings): "They talk about flat footed policemen. May the saints preserve us from the gifted amateur".
Hitchcock's cameo appearance in this film is a little different as he doesn't actually appear "in person". He is seen in the school reunion dinner photograph that Ray Milland shows to Anthony Dawson early in the film. Robert Cummings had starred in a previous Hitchcock film called "Saboteur" (1942). Grace Kelly went on to make two more films for Hitchcock - "Rear Window" and "To Catch a Thief" (both in 1954). Talented character actor John Williams was also in Hitchcock's "To Catch a Thief". "Dial M For Murder" was remade in 1998 as "A Perfect Murder" with Michael Douglas, Gwyneth Paltrow and Viggo Mortensen (the last named was also in the remake of "Psycho"). Another of Frederick Knott's plays made into a film was the excellent thriller "Wait Until Dark" starring Audrey Hepburn.
3.0 out of 5 stars Flat performances - Modern version is better,
While this one is full of suspense, I wasn't as impressed with it as, say, 'Rear Window' (the best!) or 'North by Northwest' (even with its corny ending). This one would have fared better with more outside scenes. Everything takes place in the small confines of the couple's posh NY apartment. 'Rear Window' worked well under this technique, but the excitement and suspense lose momentum in 'Dial M's stifled environment.
Also, the actual murder scene is corny and unbelievable. I preferred the modern version, 'The Perfect Murder'. I got the director's cut and learned that a cut scene implicated Gwyneth's character. She certainly had reason to kill her husband, but she used that reason to contrive the murder scene and make it look like she was attacked (throwing the kitchen into disarray). The director opted for a more subtle ending, but the dual-murder message is not completely lost.
Hitchcock's wife (Grace Kelly) is far too unknowing and submissive. Her affair is sympathized and superficial; the lover is involved only in uncovering the husband's dastardly plan. Clunk!
5.0 out of 5 stars A Lot More Than "The Master of Suspense"...,
Let's forget for a moment that Alfred Hitchcock was the best director at creating and sustaining gut wrenching suspense. That will always be his trademark; the ability to milk the tension of a scene to the very last drop.
The Master of Suspense? It's just too easy to classify him as this suspense thriller hack and dismiss his many virtuoso talents.
What I'd like to remember Mr. Hitchcock for is his ingenious ability to create a sense of pathos & psychosis in most of his main protagonists and villains; meanwhile having us relate to them in their immoral behaviors. Deftly, Mr. Hitchcock uses this transference (from screen character to viewer) so we can relate and identify directly to their situations and motivations however moral or immoral.
In Dial M for Murder, we can't help but to go against our own moral judgement and wish that the murder of Grace Kelly's character goes as planned by her husband. In the film's expository, a murder plan is hatched. Mr. Hitchcock masterfully sets up this scene with a changing of the point of view in the story and main characters. We are soon aware that the Ray Milland character is the central figure and he has the central motivation throughout the film. (although this changes later in the story)
What's haunting and eerie about this film's premise is Hitchcock's use of the point of view throughout the film. We see the film through Milland's eyes and there are many POV shots to prove it.
With a bit of reservation, when the dramatic first half climax arrives we hope that the hired killer stays long enough to carry off his execution of the Grace Kelly character. The reason is because Hitchcock has conditioned our response with tension and suspense in this highly dramatic situation. We see Milland's watch has stopped, a restless hired killer ready to abort, a man taking up precious time on a pay phone, and the extreme close up of the dial number. In "western" film narrative with all of these suspense elements inter cut together we expect a big payoff. And the audience wants to see this murder carried out.
Variations of this theme were played out beautifully in Robert De Niro's, Travis Bickle character at the ending climax of Taxi Driver and Anthony Hopkin's Hannibal character in The Silence of the Lambs. (When Hannibal escapes that weird detainment configuration and Travis shoots down the pimps we are rooting for murder)
This is something Mr. Hitchcock knew way ahead of its time and it's a very odd dynamic; a compelling reality in the audience to movie-story relationship.
5.0 out of 5 stars A lesser known Hitchock that can surprise.......,
I love "Rear Window" and "To Catch A Thief," which are two of the three movies that Grace Kelly and Alfred Hitchock collaborated on. But I had always heard "Dial M For Murder," the first of the three Grace starred in for the director, was a dissapointing film, so it took a long time for me to get around to watch it. I finally rented it a few months ago, and WOW! I find it's a great film, and I loved it! Grace was beautiful as always, and Ray Milland did an excellent job as the "villain" of the film. The plot was engrossing, and did I mention Grace Kelly was beautiful? But be warned, "Murder" is a psychological mystery, and a dialogue movie. It has little action, other than the murder attempt itself. So if you are looking for a typical twisty, sit-on-the-edge-of-your-seat Hitchock suspense film, its probably best that you look for "Vertigo," "Rear Window" or "North by Northwest" instead. But give "Dial M For Murder" a chance, and be ready to enjoy a great film, definitely deserving of a five star rating!
4.0 out of 5 stars A murderous gem which shows Hitch at his playful best.,
By A Customer
I am very fond of this film but I recognise that is not one of Hitchcock's masterpieces. Having said that Dial 'M' for Murder includes one of Hitchcock's greatest murder scenes showing that it's done best with scissors (unlike the recent poor remake 'A Perfect Murder). The murder scene clearly has sexual symbolism and repeated viewings show other deeper meanings. The performances shine in this enclosed gem. Leading in the acting stakes is Grace Kelly with an accomplished and complex performance. Ray Milland's charming villain plays with audience loyalties and I found myself cheering the villain on against the weakest character inthe film which is also feebly played by Robert Cummings. The film is placed at the beginning of hitchcock's golden period and deseves it's minor place. It's an entertaining and suspenseful gem which cannot but delight all who see it.
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the best Hitch,
Although reviews tend to vary on this movie, I think it is one of Hitchcocks 10 best. Although the movie does not have as much mystery, suspense, or action as many of Hitch's other films, it does feature terrific acting, a good plot, and great direction, editing, and cinematography. Ray Milland and Grace Kelly put in terrific performances. Milland puts in such a good performance that you almost find yourself rooting for him to get away with his crime. I thought Robert Cummings was just average, but the role of the Inspector is one of the better supporting characters in any Hitch film. The ending, while not as famous as those in North by Northwest or Strangers on a Train, is so casual that I think it ranks as one of the best, if not the best, of all Hitch endings.
4.0 out of 5 stars Not Quite As Good As REAR WINDOW,
DIAL M FOR MURDER is an Alfred Hitchcock classic about a man who is trying to have his unfaithful wife murdered for her wealth. Ray Milland does a superb job in the role of the scheming husband. Grace Kelly plays the wife and Robert Cummings is her lover. John Williams, Anthony Dawson and Patrick Allen round out the strong cast. Unfortunately the details of the film's plot are too complicated and the movie lacks the usual high degree of suspense associated with the best Hitchcock thrillers.
DIAL M FOR MURDER received no Oscar nominations in 1954 but Alfred Hitchcock did receive a nomination for his direction of REAR WINDOW in that same year.
4.0 out of 5 stars Has lost none of its power,
Ray Milland is an ex-tennis player (what is it with Hitchcock and tennis players, remember Strangers on a Train?) who has discovered that his wife (Grace Kelly) had a fling with an old friend (Robert Cummings).
Ray wants her dead, partially for the money so he hires an old school chum (well, blackmails him, really) to do the job, shows him where the key will be...and things go wrong from there.
Not one of the Master's usual "wrong man" scenarios, but stunning nonetheless. I saw this one on a Warner Bros. "Night at the Movies" series videotape. It included two newsreels and a Daffy Duck cartoon.
5.0 out of 5 stars Hitch does it again!,
By A Customer
After a serie of failures in the late 40s, Hitchcock managed to pull himself back together to cook for us some exciting thrillers, as the master knows, beginning with Strangers on a Train and Dial M for Murder, through Vertigo and North by Northwest. Dial M for Murder is a wonderful film with great actors, especially Ray Milland, and with an intersting, breathtaking, mind-provoking plot. Hitch's detective films, such as Dial M for Murder, Stage Fright or Frenzy always depress me because it makes me think how much detectives in those films are clever and in life unfortunately they are not.
5.0 out of 5 stars Murder & Ultimate Suspicion,
By A Customer
This film is one of Alfred Hitchcock's best. He did a wonderful job in the setting of the story and he created a mysterious and twisted plot full of never-ending suspicion. Even though you know what is going to happen and when it is going to happen in this film,it still makes you wonder what could go wrong in this flaw-less murder plan. Grace Kelley does an excellent job playing the beautiful (but not so innocent) unsuspecting wife of Ray Milland, who also does an excellent job of plotting the plan and revealing it to the killer. This is a 5-star must see classic!
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Dial M for Murder (Sous-titres franais) by Alfred Hitchcock (DVD - 2004)
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