Ex-tennis pro Tony Wendice decides to murder his wife for her money and because she had an affair the year before. He blackmails an old college associate to strangle her, but when things go wrong he sees a way to turn even... more »ts to his advantage.« less
"This is a fine example of the kind of mystery that little old ladies from Pasadena (or Russell Square) adore. Perhaps Arsenic and Old Lace (1944) starring Cary Grant might be comparable in its genteel and bloodless ability to glue us to the screen.This is certainly one of Hitchcock's best, but most of the credit must go to a devilishly clever play written by Frederick Knott from which he adapted the screenplay. (He also wrote the play upon which Wait Until Dark (1967) starring Audrey Hepburn was based.) Hitchcock does a good job in not tinkering unnecessarily with the material. He also has the exquisitely beautiful Grace Kelly to play the part of Margot Wendice.Ray Milland plays, with a kind of high-toned Brit panache, her diabolical husband, Tony Wendice, a one-time tennis star who married mostly for security. John Williams is the prim and proper Chief Inspector Hubbard. He lends to the part a bit of Sherlock Holmesian flair. One especially liked his taking a moment to comb his mustache after the case is solved. Robert Cummings, unfortunately plays Margot's American boyfriend as inventively as a sawhorse. For those of you who might have blinked, Hitchcock makes his traditional appearance in the photo on the wall from Tony Wendice's undergraduate days.The fulcrum of the plot is the latchkey. It is the clue that (literally) unlocks the mystery. There is a modernized redoing of this movie called A Perfect Murder (1998) starring Michael Douglas and Gwyneth Paltrow in which a similar business with latchkeys is employed. I am not very good with clues so it was only after seeing that movie and Dial M for Murder for the second time that I finally understood what happened. Follow the latchkey!Of course I was too distracted by Grace Kelly to fully appreciate such intricacies. I found myself struck with the ironic notion that anyone, even a cuckolded husband, might want to kill Grace Kelly or that a jury might find her guilty of anything! She remains in my psyche America's fairytale princess who quit Hollywood at the height of her popularity after only five years and eleven movies to become a real princess by marrying Prince Rainier of Monaco. Something was lost there, and something was gained. She was in essence the original Jackie Kennedy Onassis. I think, however, that the old saw about the man who marries for money, earning it, might apply to American princesses as well.At any rate, Grace Kelly's cool and sublime bearing was on fine display here. Hitchcock cloths her in discreet nightgowns and fitted (but certainly not clinging) dresses that show off her delicate figure and her exquisite arms and hint coyly at her subtle sexuality. She was 25-years-old, stunningly beautiful, and in full confidence of her ability as an actress. She had just finished starring opposite James Stewart in another splendid Hitchcock one-room mystery, Rear Window (1954), and was about to make The Country Girl (1954) with Bing Crosby for which she would win an Oscar for Best Actress. So see this for Grace Kelly who makes Gwyneth Paltrow (whom I adore) look downright gawky, and for Ray Milland whose urbane scheming seems a layer or two of hell removed from Michael Douglas's evil manipulations.By the way, the "original theatrical trailer" preceding these Warner Brothers Classic videos is what we used to call the "Coming Attractions"--that is, clips directly from the movie and a promo. You might want to fast forward to the movie itself."
A suspenseful masterpiece
gac1003 | 10/25/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Former tennis pro Tony Wendice found out many months ago that his wife Margot was in love with another man, Mark Halliday, an American author of crime novels. After many weeks of planning, Tony sets in motion the perfect plan to kill his wife. The only problem is, as Halliday unknowningly remarks, there's no such thing as a perfect murder, and when something goes wrong, Tony has to quickly formulate another plan to do away with his wife.
This is a classic of suspense from director Alfred Hitchcock, based upon a very successful stage play. All the actors - Ray Milland, Grace Kelly, Robert Cummings and John Williams - all give fine performances, but Milland's as Tony Wendice is a standout. You're instantly won over by his conniving charm, and I admit to following his plan with a tiny bit of satisfaction. He's never over-the-top, remaining perfectly cool and collected even when things go awry. Hitchcock's directorial style also keeps the viewer confined to the apartment, only venturing outside very infrequently. As with the play, much of the action takes place in that small space, and Hitchcock uses it to his advantage with intricate staging and camera angles.
The DVD is wonderfully clear with sharp sound as well. The two featurettes are equally worth watching, especially the one on 3D. I never knew that the film was originally shot as a 3D feature, and this goes into some detail about how Hitchcock set up many of the shots without relying too much on the effects. Even as a flat screen movie, the film works perfectly. This movie is a genuine pleasure to watch and should be part of any movie buff's collection."
A Perfect Murder?....NOT!
L. Shirley | fountain valley, ca United States | 10/11/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This review refers to "Dial M For Murder",DVD,Warner Bros...
Aren't we lucky that cell phones weren't around in the 50's. Then Grace Kelly would never have had to leave her bed, to answer that potentialy fatal phone call in the living room.No matter how often you view this very suspense filled, thriller from Hitch, you still want to shout out to Grace Kelly."Look Out Grace...there's a murderer behind you!" That's one of the things I love about Hitch films. The connection to the characters, the need to help them. You practically want to get up and put those scissors in her hand, so she can protect herself from evil. Dial M has many of those moments, and is a superb classic that stands up to many repeat viewings.
Ray Milland has discovered his wife (Kelly) is having a love affair with Robert Cummings. Also she is the rich one in the family and he decides her time is up. He ropes in and hires a guy whose lifestyle makes for an easy blackmail mark. He's going to pay him 1000 pounds(well, after all it's only a few minutes work), and has it all worked out. Right down to the smallest detail. But uh-oh, the perfect plan starts unraveling almost the minute the plan is set in motion.The details start to go amiss, and don't stop until the end. Small things at first, a slow watch, phone troubles, the wrong person gets killed, you know little stuff like that! It is a joy to watch Ray Milland in action as he must explain away all of it to his wife and the police.
The film is a thing of beauty. Hitchcock made this film from a hit play, and filmed it in the same fashion. Most of the scenes are set in the confines of a small apartment. Hitch moves his actors around like the master he was. As mentioned Milland is a genius, Grace Kelly is wonderful as the good girl except for the little matter of the extra-marital affair. And of course we forgive her for this, because we too, like the Robert Cummings character better then the husband. Cummings also makes the most of his part. As a mystery writer, who knows the perfect murder can only happen in a book, he tries his hand at solving this mystery as well. John Williams, another favorite of Hitch's, is the Detective heading up the murder investigation. He's perfect as that Columbo type, who you know, that he knows what might have taken place, but needs to prove it. And it is fabulous to watch him put the pieces together.
Where's Hitch?....Where could he be in this film mostly made in one room. Ahhh..about 12 minutes in..the 'Picture' of innocence as he mugs for the camera at a class reunion.
The DVD is a good buy. Nice clear picture, and good colors. The colors are sometimes muted and sometimes striking. When Grace is being bad with her lover, she is in a red dress. I thought the sound was recorded a little low, I had to turn up the volume a little more then usual. It is presented in a Standard version format which preserves the original theatrical aspect ratio. Some really good features on this disc. A 20 minute documentary on how Hitch made this film, with other filmmakers admiring his work. A Brief History of 3D films, focusing on Dial M, mostly and showing the parts that were originally in 3D. Also a great trailer for the film.
also available on VHS:Dial M for Murder
A great addition to your Hitch collection...and always look behind you when answering the phone!..Enjoy...Laurie
more Hitch stuff: The Trouble With Harry Alfred Hitchcock Presents volume 2 Hitchcock's Notebooks: An Authorized and Illustrated Look Inside the C
Best character portrayal by Ray Milland
Bryana C. Hillman | Las Vegas, NV USA | 06/10/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This classic will always be my favorite. For those who like a movie with superb dialogue and suspense, this is it. I don't usually laugh out loud watching an Alfred Hitchcock movie, but every time I hear Ray Milland say: "What shall we do, play cards?" I do. Don't leave this one out of your collection. It's just as entertaining the thirtieth time you watch it as it was the first."
Plot, precision and no pretension whatsoever
Andy Gill | Dorset, England | 07/10/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Halfway between Rope and Rear Window, Dial M For Murder is a masterpiece of dialogue-driven thrills, filled with snappy lines, memorable characters and magnificent twists and intrigues. Blackmail, bribery, burglary, adultery, murder, manipulation and set-ups all slot together into one seamless, flowing crescendo of a roller coaster ride that takes you up and down and in and out of alternating suspense and excitement. Originally written as a play, the writing is so intelligent that this film surpasses the narrow constraints of its genre, avoiding any level of predictability ? every time you think you know what?s going to happen, something comes dashing at you from a completely different angle and knocks you into another direction, until you just hold on and see where you end up. The acting, though not outstanding, serves its purpose admirably, and you feel for the characters and do actually care whether they live or die, which is always a bonus in a story revolving around murder. A number of long takes keep the film moving swiftly onwards, and despite its for the most part one-room setting, making it obviously lacking in spectacle, it never becomes stale.Dial M for Murder is seen as one of Hitchcock?s weaker films because of its complete lack of pretension ? I guess it?s just what constitutes your taste in films. A lot of people dislike this film because it is plot-driven and not, dare I say it, arty and high-brow, but don?t think that means it is devoid of creativity. Though it is set almost entirely within one flat, Hitchcock far exceeds the limitations placed upon such a setting. The tension created by the camera circling Grace Kelly when she is on the phone is intense, the frequently astounding camera shots that swoop in from the other side of the room to extreme close-ups of, for example, keys, are ingenious instruments of plot-progression, and the top-down soon-to-die shot as the murder is planned is definitely worthy of note. If you want the camera to tell the story, then this isn?t the film for you, but if you?re okay with the idea of a film that contains ? God forbid ? dialogue, and intelligent, stirring, rip-roaring, rousing dialogue at that, then Dial M For Murder is the perfect movie.I would recommend this film to virtually everyone. If you like the theatre or reading books or listening to radio plays, you?ll like this. If you like plot-based movies, you?ll love this one ? it could teach today?s films a thing or two about substance. If you like dialogue-based films like anything by Quentin Tarantino, Polanski?s Chinatown or The Usual Suspects, you?ll like Dial M For Murder. If you?ve ever watched more than one episode of Colombo, you will love it. If you like Grace Kelly, you?ll like this. But (and it?s a big but) if you prefer action and explosions to plot, Jean-Luc Goddard to Robert Zemeckis, avant-garde to Hollywood or the second half of Titanic to the first, then you?d probably be best giving this film a miss."