DIAL M FOR MURDER IN 3D

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Possibly the attraction for Alfred Hitchcock to direct Dial M For Murder was simply that he wanted to try filming in 3D.

As it turned out,the film was never released in 3D when it came out in 1954. As Hitchcock said, “3D was a 9 day wonder and I came in on the 9th day.”

Although made in 1953 (at the height of interest in 3D), the film couldn’t be released until the play on which it was based had finished its stage run.With a story that takes place almost exclusively in an apartment, the need for 3D seems unnecessary.

Seeing a Hitchcock film on the big screen is a rare treat. Unfortunately, I didn’t like 3D – having to wear glasses was annoying and I felt the screen became smaller.

The film itself has a few flaws. Ray Milland is supposed to be a professional tennis player who has just retired a year earlier. – all I can say is he must have been on the Seniors tour!

All the business with the key could have been solved if Milland had made a copy of the key. (But then no story!)

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Robert Cummings,Grace Kelly, Ray Milland

Robert Cummings was poor casting – there was no chemistry with Grace Kelly.

I’ve read Hitchcock was already planning Rear Window while he was making Dial M For Murder. and then To Catch A Thief was to follow.

Dial M doesn’t quite measure up to these two!

John Williams ( so good as Chief Inspector Hubbard) was in the original stage version of the play – as was Anthony Dawson as the would be murderer,Lesgate.
Williams was so good ,it’s not surprising Hitch used him again in To Catch A Thief.

There was a TV version of Dial M in 1958 with three of the original stage cast – Williams,Dawson and Maurice Evans (who was Tony Wendice on stage). Rosemary Harris played Margot in the TV version. Would love to see it.

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Anthony Dawson, Grace Kelly

The poster design for the film is very dramatic, though in the film it has to be explained to us why Grace Kelly wouldn’t just walk up to the desk and pick up the phone in front of her. The attempted murder is well choreographed, especially with the cuts to  Ray Milland at the other end of the phone!

8 responses »

  1. I have a soft spot for Dial M as it was one of the first Hitchcock movies I saw. It doesn’t have the emotional or psychological complexity of his best work but it does do a good job of presenting a tricky stage play.
    I would think the challenge of opening up or making more cinematic such a restrictive piece of work must have drawn Hitchcock to the project.
    I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen this film now, but I watched the Blu-ray just a few weeks ago. That disc contains the 3-D version but my home set-up doesn’t allow me to view movies in anything other than the flat format.

  2. I don’t dislike the film and ,like you, have watched it many times. I thought Milland and Cummings weren’t best casting. And instead of that long speech of explanation by Milland to ‘Lesgate’, I wish Hitch had opened it up a little.

  3. I believe others have questioned the casting of Cummings too. However, Hitchcock seemed to like him as an actor (having already used him in SABOTEUR) and that eager, chirpy quality of his contrasts nicely with Milland’s smooth, calculating character.

    Again, I have no particular issue with Milland either. In many ways I feel he was a good choice: he was at that age and point in his career when he had just about the right shopworn look and feel about him to convince me that he was a man aware that his best years were behind him, and thus desperate enough to take the steps he does.

    I can see where you’re coming from with regard to the Milland/Dawson scene. I’d hate to lose it though as it’s the key to the whole movie and unfolds beautifully. Both men’s characters are gradually revealed, layer by layer (most especially Milland’s) and the way the trap is baited and Dawson is lured in is a masterclass in manipulation.

  4. I saw this film for the first time about a year or so ago and found it compelling – I rather like films in such a restricted setting, which build up the tension, as also with Hitchcock’s ‘Rear Window’ and ‘Rope’. Glad you got to see it on the big screen, Vienna, but I agree that 3D glasses are annoying and to me 3D itself never really adds anything.

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