Title – Dial M for Murder (1954)
Director – Alfred Hitchcock (The Birds)
Cast – Grace Kelly, Ray Milland, Robert Cummings, John Williams
Plot – After learning of his wife Margot’s (Kelly) affair with the dashing Mark (Cummings), former tennis pro Tony Wendice (Milland) arranges to have her killed but his plan doesn’t run as smoothly as he would’ve hoped for.
“People don’t commit murder on credit”
Review by Eddie on 29/04/2021
There wouldn’t be many brave enough too dispute the call that Alfred Hitchcock was and quite possibly remains to this day, the quintessential master of the murder/mystery thriller.
Throughout his fabled career with the likes of Suspicion, Rebecca, Strangers on a Train and Vertigo littering his filmography, the grandfather of mystery and suspense crafted an impressive niche in the genres he gravitated towards the most and while at the time this adaptation of Frederick Knott’s stage play didn’t get the plaudits some of his more esteemed films got upon release, this well-liked effort has continued to be regarded as one of the best films of its type in the years that have followed since it first appeared.
Teaming up with Knott to bring his scheming and intricate work to life, Hitchcock is relishing being in an environment such as this, one that he thrived in so frequently with the tale of Ray Milland’s seemingly upstanding ex-tennis pro Tony Wendice plotting to murder his wife Margot when he uncovers the truth behind her affair with the younger and charismatic Mark allowing the esteemed director to make the most of the films sweat inducing set pieces that mostly take place in the Wendice’s apartment building or the offices of John Williams police station.
As you would expect from a Hitchcock film the performances are universally solid with Grace Jelly and Williams in particular having a great time bringing Knott’s wordsmithing to life while Hitch himself is more restrained than he was sometimes found to be as he keeps things simple but effective, shining a light on a situation that gets murkier and murkier as it goes with a feeling throughout that you’re never sure just who might come out on top when Tony’s plan’s for a perfect murder don’t pan out the way he had hoped.
The fact the film never tries to make anything too grand out of its simple but at the same time intricately structured plot or delve too far into the characteristics of its four central players means that in some respects its not as profound or memorable as the best of Hitchcock’s works but there’s no point in denying that it isn’t one of his most purely enjoyable and accessible offerings.
Final Say –
A hugely enjoyable Hitchcock classic, Dial M for Murder has all that you would hope to find in such a film and this smartly made feature has lost none of charm since its initial release many moons ago.
4 hand written letters out of 5