Dial M for Murder
This 1954 thriller sees Hitchcock once again tackle the subject of the perfect murder. Grace Kelly stars alongside Ray Milland, who looks like James Stewart after he has gotten hold of a bottle of black hair dye, Robert Cummings and Anthony Dawson. The movie opens with a scene of a beautiful wife and dashing husband sharing a scrumptious breakfast as they start their day. They chat, they eat and drink. She kisses him goodbye and then its cuts to her in the arms of another handsome man, it is Grace kelly after all, kissing him albeit rather more ardently. Hollywood’s Ice Queen has obviously been frolicking in the snow so then it comes as no surprise that when her cuckolded husband insists she spends the evening with her ‘friend’, that he has work to do, he instead begins to put in motion his plan for her. And what a plan. Has the perfect murder finally been plotted?
The film is an adaptation of a play and the film plays like, well a play. Almost the entire time is spent in the apartment; very little actually happens and at times Hitchcock shoots from above giving it a very stage-like feel. Hitchcock shot the film in 3D, his one and only foray into such technology; yet when it was first released in 3D it was not received very well. The studio therefore changed their plans and it was released as normal but recently it was re-released in 3D.
Kelly’s outfits are rather plain, as fits her character, humble housewife and all that, but it is still Grace Kelly with all the poise and perfect annunciation we expect from a princess. Her bag plays a pivotal role in the story which given her later history with Hermès is quite humorous and fitting. I also wondered, given that no one seems to have a keyring, whether they were popular and common in the 50s – they were. But again if the plot calls for no one to have a keyring, then so be it. Who am I to question the plausibility of a narrative?
The film reminds us that scrapbooking, yes scrapbooking, can be a dangerous hobby and to never trust a man with a ring on his little finger. Oh and not to answer the phone if it rings late at night. Very watchable despite not being one of Hitchcock’s more popular films.