Dial M for Murder

Dial M for Murder

4.1 14
Director: Alfred Hitchcock

Cast: Alfred Hitchcock, Ray Milland, Grace Kelly, Robert Cummings


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Based on the popular mystery play by Frederick Knott, Dial M For Murder is more talky and stagebound than most Hitchcock films, but no less enjoyable. British tennis pro Ray Milland suspects that his wealthy wife Grace Kelly is fooling around with handsome American Robert Cummings. Milland blackmails aSee more details below


Based on the popular mystery play by Frederick Knott, Dial M For Murder is more talky and stagebound than most Hitchcock films, but no less enjoyable. British tennis pro Ray Milland suspects that his wealthy wife Grace Kelly is fooling around with handsome American Robert Cummings. Milland blackmails a disgraced former army comrade (Anthony Dawson) into murdering Kelly and making it look like the work of a burglar. But Milland's carefully mapped-out scheme does not take into account the notion that Kelly might fight back and kill her assailant. When the police (represented by John Williams) investigate, Milland improvises quickly, subtly planting the suggestion that his wife has committed first-degree murder. He almost gets away with it; to tell you more would spoil the fun of the film's final thirty minutes. Hitchcock claimed that he chose this single-set play because he was worn out from several earlier, more ambitious projects, and wanted to "recharge his batteries." Compelled by Warner Bros. to film Dial M for Murder in 3-D, Hitchcock perversely refused to throw in the standard in-your-face gimmickry of most stereoscopic films of the era--though watch how he visually emphasizes an important piece of evidence towards the end of the film.

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Tony Nigro
Unassuming in its brilliance, Alfred Hitchcock's Dial M for Murder (1954) is an ingenious thriller too often overlooked. Released the same year that gave us Rear Window, Dial M is no less a great Hitchcock film than the Jimmy Stewart vehicle that followed it, if only for the reason that its intricate drama also plays out pitch perfectly in one room. Ray Milland is Tony Wendice, a devious and jealous (though sympathetic) sophisticate who, we learn early on, has palns for the "perfect murder" of his rich and lovely (though unfaithful) wife, Margot, played by Grace Kelly. The film's first act breaks murder mystery laws to detail precisely how the act should be played out; but Wendice's plan fails to anticipate Margot's ability to defend herself, and only the man assigned to kill her winds up dead. From there the story is a pure joy of Hitchcockian cat-and-mouse, as Margot's lover, Mark (Robert Cummings), and Chief Inspector Hubbard (John Williams) each become more and more involved in the resulting investigation, while Wendice maneuvers to frame his wife for murder. Adapted by Frederick Knott from his popular stage play, Dial M appears simple: There are some fantastic performances, particularly by Milland, and the movie feels very much like a play, devoid of Hitch's filmic flare. But great subtleties are at work. Even in the film's stagy environs, it never feels claustrophobic -- unlike Rear Window, which did and was supposed to -- and the suspense created by Hitchcock's mastery of visual language is, as usual, undeniable. Additionally, the movie succumbed to the trends of its times and was ordered to be shot in 3-D -- yes, the kind you watch with red-and-blue glasses. Nonetheless, in Dial M objects don't fly toward the audience as they do in a more kitschy flick like House of Wax. Instead, Hitchcock saves his gimmickry for a few key moments, using 3-D's shock value as, well, shock value rather than showy effect. The result serves the story in the classiest of ways, so that the movie plays equally well in its traditional 2-D. (The DVD releases here, sadly, are not offered in 3-D.) Though not as grandiose a Hitch outing as the later North by Northwest or Psycho, Dial M for Murder holds firm ground and deserves to be seen alongside the artist's other, hallowed masterpieces.
All Movie Guide - Michael Costello
Alfred's Hitchcock's adaptation of Frederick Knott's play is hardly the director at his best, though it remains an above-average suspense-melodrama with a typically Hitchcockian villain. It focuses on the efforts of Ray Milland's character, an idler who fears that his wealthy wife might leave him and wants her murdered so that he might inherit her money. The machinery of the play is standard but enjoyable in its tight construction, with only the business of the key being of dubious plausibility. Its most compelling element is Milland's character, who has shades of Cary Grant in Suspicion (1941) and Robert Walker in Strangers on a Train (1951). Most memorable is an ugly scene in which he blackmails an old "friend" into agreeing to kill his wife, played by Grace Kelly. Milland is near the top of his game here, and John Williams turns in his usual fine performance as the wily Scotland Yard inspector. Kelly, and Robert Cummings as her lover, are forced to contend with underwritten stock characters. Neither comes off particularly well.

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Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Warner Home Video
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Special Features

Documentary Hitchcock and Dial M; Theatrical trailer

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Ray Milland Tom Wendice
Grace Kelly Margot Wendice
Robert Cummings Mark Halliday
John Williams Chief Inspector Hubbard
Anthony Dawson Captain Swan Lesgate
Patrick Allen Detective Pearson
Leo Britt The Storyteller
George Leigh William
George Alderson The Detective
Robin Hughes A Police Sergeant
Guy Doleman Detective
Sam Harris Man in Phone Booth
Thayer Roberts Detective
Jack Cunningham Bobby

Technical Credits
Alfred Hitchcock Director,Producer
Gordon Bau Makeup
Robert Burks Cinematographer
Edward Carrere Art Director
Mel Dellar Asst. Director
Rudi Fehr Editor
Oliver S. Garretson Sound/Sound Designer
George James Hopkins Art Director,Set Decoration/Design
Frederick Knott Screenwriter
Moss Mabry Costumes/Costume Designer
Dimitri Tiomkin Score Composer

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