Dial M For Murder (1954)
Genre: Crime Thriller
Starring: Grace Kelly (High Noon; Rear Window), Ray Milland (The Lost Weekend; X)
Directed By: Alfred Hitchcock (Blackmail; Secret Agent)
Overview: A man plots the murder of his wife. Will the plan run without a hitch, or will some quick-thinking improvisation be required?
Acting: When someone has a name like Chastity, you just know you have the best chance in the world for a top-of-the-line lay after last call. What a surprise that someone with such a name as 'Grace' would be one of the few actresses out there who has an immediate and... graceful presence. If you asked me who her male counterpart would be I'd instantly say James Cagney, a man so perfect in his skin that he exudes style, but I digress. Grace aside, all the players are perfectly guided by the ultra-uber experienced Hitchcock.
Cinematography: Plays make for visuals that are relatively static, the medium insisting so much on sets and stages. What one must do to enhance the film translation of a play is to focus on the players. You must zoom-in on the little hand gestures, on photos on a wall (cameo!), the camera must remain a floating eye amidst the stoic surroundings. Hitchcock taught me that he could do this ever since Lifeboat, and he does it here again.
Script: "What money? It'd be months before I'd get my hands on that and people don't commit murder on credit!"
Witty stuff. This dialogue is the kind that is drawn out, long discussions about details and plans. A given scene begins with a scenario, questions arise, tests of the formulated plan. As discussions continue, we slowly uncover the mystery and the suspense until each of our questions are answered perfectly. This is the kind of detailed planning that some writers dread, since attention to such detail invites scrutiny. When it succeeds however, it's brilliant.
Plot: If you haven't seen as many films as I have, should I say something like 'though mildly predictable'? Maybe not. I guess I'll just say that the first little bit is expected and well laid out, but when a plan is so perfectly explained, doesn't that mean it's doomed to failure? Perhaps, but what happens next is a twist upon a twist and goes so far into the realm of the unbelievably believable that I was pleasantly surprised at the ending.
Mood: Much like it was with Rope, it's heavy dialogue and very little change in sets. Yet such a specific theme so closely focussed upon by such men of such intellect and quick-wit makes for a great experience. You'll be smiling at the evil machinations as they unfold. Might I also mention, finally a story where a detective is actually not a bumbling oaf? How long did that take you Hitch? Twenty-Seven years? Yeah, thanks for growing up a little.
Overall Rating: 84% (Even if You Gotta Call Collect!)Aftertaste: The wall of 'Awesome Hitchcock' is upon me and as I commented in Emma's blog, aren't you all jealous that I'm seeing the greats for the first time? The Man Who Knew Too Much, North By Northwest, I Confess... here I come!