Murder by Phone

dial_m_for_murder_xlgI’ve been watching a few more Hitchcock movies that I didn’t get to during Readers Imbibing Peril–most recently, Dial M for Murder (1954), a suspense puzzle about pulling off the perfect murder.

Grace Kelly plays Margot, whose husband Tony (Ray Milland) has discovered her affair with crime writer Mark Halliday (Robert Cummings).  Margot has decided to stay with her husband and believes her affair is still a secret–but Tony has decided to murder his wife and believes he has the perfect plan to pull it off.

This is another excellent Hitchcock movie where the suspense is all in the subtle details, and in knowing the chilling significance behind apparently harmless conversations.  The attempted murder is a more dramatic action sequence, but the rest of the movie is mostly people talking to each other.  Originally a play, Dial M for Murder takes place almost entirely in one apartment–only I never really noticed that until the documentary extra feature pointed it out.  The tension and the engagement are so good that the movie never feels close or confined.

Grace Kelly plays the (not entirely innocent) victim, but the point of view of the movie is mostly her husband, Tony.  We get out of his view at the beginning and the end, but for most of the film we’re going through the story with him.  It’s an interesting angle to follow the story of a murder from the murderer’s perspective, especially as he’s a particularly suave and intelligent murderer.  He rarely betrays tension or worry, and seems to be totally in control of the situation at nearly every moment.

The movie plays out like a puzzle, with Tony first laying out exactly how he plans to arrange the murder–then watching to see whether it works–and how Tony devises new solutions when parts of the plan go awry.  He’s so clever and so in command that it’s hard to imagine how he could eventually be caught…  The conclusion is ingenious, if a bit far-fetched–but I’m willing to go along with it!

Other reviews:
Folding Seats
Flickering Myth
Canadian Cinephile
Anyone else?

Buy it here: Dial M for Murder

4 thoughts on “Murder by Phone

  1. dianem57

    Sounds like a winner – with a stellar cast. That was when Grace Kelly was in her prime as an actress. She played so many interesting parts in Hitchcock movies. She was one of his favorite stars to use more than once in telling his stories.

  2. I really enjoy this movie a lot. I was lucky enough to see it when it played in 3D at Film Forum a few months ago. Some of the shots make so much more sense in 3D (how it was originally intended to be viewed).

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