Movie Club: Dial M For Murder

Discussion in 'Introductions & Off Topic' started by LiamABC, Feb 24, 2019.

  1. LiamABC

    LiamABC Thunderian Legend

    WELCOME EVERYBODY TO THE LATEST DISCUSSION THREAD OF THE NEW MOVIE CLUB, DESIGNED TO RUN PARALLEL WITH R.O.C.K.S. A big thanks to everyone that are joining us through all of this.

    This week we're going back to the 1950s with a classic Alfred Hitchcock movie, Dial M For Murder.

    Remember any ideas for films to discuss are most welcome, and should be made on the Movie Club Introduction thread (the sticky one), and anyone is welcome to add their thoughts about movies already discussed on their respective threads.

    Just a friendly reminder to everyone that, whilst fans are obviously welcome to passionately discuss and give their views on these movies, please remember to keep things on a friendly footing and respect your fellow posters.
    Also, please do not post where or how to find the full movie online. And do not post asking others to PM it to you. You are however allowed to watch the movie in whatever manner you want.
  2. Mark M

    Mark M Thunderian Legend

    Wonderful movie. Definitely among my favourite Hitchcock films.
    The plot is brilliant and really captivating.
    Tony Wendice trying to commit the perfect murder with what he thinks is the perfect plan he has planned down to the last detail. The victim being his wife. Of course the perfect plan fails and instead his wife ends up killing the would be assassin. Then Tony has to improvise and makes it look as though his wife Margo had planned to kill the assassin all along.
    A great cast do a wonderful job as the characters. The beautiful Grace Kelly is great as Margo as is Ray Milland as the scheming Tony. Robert Cummings is also quite good as Mark. John Williams is the real star as Inspector Hubbard.
    I really wish they had shown more of Hubbard making the discovery of the latch key.
    My favourite scene of the movie though is definitely thee confrontation scene between Hubbard and Wendice as he starts to put his plan in motion to prove Tony as the culprit.
    A rare occurrence with this movie is that there is really isn't a lot of different scenes that really stand out. It is very contained much like a stage doubt since it is based on a stage play. The vast majority of the whole film all takes place in the Wendice house. It would have been nice to have seen the police station, the interview, the evidence room etc.
    It really shows how interesting the story is when, aside from certain moments, the plot really relies the viewer to listen to what the characters are actually saying rather than their actions.
    Definitely one of my top favourite Hitchcock movies and among his best.
    The Drifter likes this.
  3. The Drifter

    The Drifter Berbill

    Though I consider myself a moderately big fan of Hitch's films, for whatever reason I had never seen Dial M for Murder - until just recently (because of this thread). Excellent film, with a somewhat complex plot - you really had to play close attention to the dialogue & what people did/didn't do to follow the story here. Some comments:

    -Grace Kelly was especially great here - stunning actress, & very convincing in the role.

    -It's always interesting to see movies where the criminals think they're smarter than everyone else - but are ultimately proved wrong.

    -The last scene where Tony realizes he has been caught by the police inspector - and offers to pour a drink for everyone - was great; i.e., even though he knew he was going to prison for trying to kill his wife (and that was the least of it), he was still exceptionally polite to everyone - LOL.

    - Hitch seems to always make an "appearance" in his movies, typically a non-speaking cameo. In this film, he was seen in the old picture with Tony & his college?! friends; and, it looked like his face was super-imposed on someone else's - which made the cameo even more amusing than it normally is - LOL.

    -The exterior scenes (in the street(s) outside) were obviously not filmed on an actual street (or even a set) but in front of some kind of screen?! This really emphasizes the 'stage-like' aspect of the film.
    Mark M likes this.
  4. Mark M

    Mark M Thunderian Legend

    @The Drifter yes Tony's politeness kind of reminds me of Columbo and how there is usually a kind of friendship and respect built between Columbo and the criminal who usually underestimates Columbo's crime solving skills compared to their perfect plan.
  5. LiamABC

    LiamABC Thunderian Legend

    The 1950s was when Alfred Hitchcock was at the peak of his filmmaking career, and with few exceptions, all his best films were from that decade. That list of his best includes this classic from 1954, his first of three outings with Grace Kelly as his leading lady. We've already covered Rear Window here, we'll doubtless cover To Catch A Thief eventually, which also featured another star of this film, John Williams.

    As to the film itself, yes. it's great. Based on a stage play by Frederick Knott, who adapted his own play for the screen here. Hitchcock said about filming stage plays that all you have to do it to shoot them as is - although it has been said that what he meant was that you have to shoot them the way he would do it. Which is fair enough, as the way he shot this was flawless in capturing the theatrical feel while simultaneously making it feel like a major motion picture event. Trivia buffs might be interested to know that this is the only film Hitchcock ever made in 3D. If you were asked to guess which it was without knowing, this would not be high on your list, North By Northwest, Vertigo, The Birds and even the black & white Psycho would be more natural guesses, but no, it was Dial M For Murder. Things like Margot's hand shooting out towards the viewer during the struggle were deliberately made very visual for the 3D format.

    Hitchcock was called the Master of Suspense, and this is another great showcase of how. From the opening scenes we know something is brewing, but we don't know what. Margot's marital infidelity is established quickly and effortlessly - the sort of establishing detail that most directors would take time over, but which Hitchcock sets up in the opening couple of minutes. Because of this detail, it's not clear who we're meant to root for until Tony shows his hand to Swann - Swann was played, incidentally, by Anthony Dawson who later appeared as Dent in Dr No. And from the on we know exactly who the goodies and baddies are. Tony shows himself to be highly skilled at planning a perfect murder, we see exactly how his brain works, the whole setup story he tells Swann is gripping. He plans it down to the last detail, and the only thing that stops it coming off is his own watch stopping. Margot is able to fend off her assailant and accidentally kill him, but even this doesn't stop Tony's mind, he is able to take a setback and make it work to his own advantage. It takes genius to work out such a backup plan so quickly after the initial plan, the one he'd spent months perfecting so it couldn't possibly go wrong, goes wrong, and Tony is a criminal genius.

    Then of course in the second half, Chief Inspector Hubbard enters the scene as the investigative genius on the side of the angels. Here is the police inspector we all want in our corner. His solution at the end, based on who knows where the key is, is gripping. He tests both Margot and Tony in their turn, and catches Tony out. It's the classic "only the villain would know this detail" moment, but Hitchcock handled it so beautifully that it doesn't feel cliched at all. Incidentally, one of Hubbard's men, Pearson, is played by a young Patrick Allen, whose name and face mean little in themselves, but whose voice was heard on so many things and ultimately became the standard that all British TV and radio announcers try to emulate (and fail miserably!).

    This is and always has been in my top five or six Hitchcock movies. Three of the others we have already covered, and doubtless we'll get round to the other two eventually! Five stars!

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