Monday, June 22, 2009

Dial M for Murrrrrrder

Dial M for Murder poster

On Sunday, I watched Dial M for Murder as part of My Friend Amy's Summer of Hitchcock.

I've actually seen this movie a few times before, and it's one of my favorite Hitchcock films. It's about a woman who is having an affair with an American mystery writer. Meanwhile, her husband, who is something of a ne'er-do-well, has decided to kill her. He hatches what he thinks is the perfect murder; but of course things happen that put all his carefully constructed plans to ruin.

This is not a mystery--we already know whodunnit before it's even done--but it does have a very Agatha Christie feel to it. I think that's because of the great characters and the claustrophobic feel of the film. Almost the entire movie takes place in the tiny flat that the Wendices call home. The setting can be mainly attributed to the fact that the movie was adapted from a play; but I also think it works to help tell the story and keep the narrative flowing. In the end, the resolution of the story rests on how one can get into the Wendices' flat.

The camera angles in this film are very interesting--there's always objects between the viewer and the actors. I didn't notice this too much until it was pointed out in the special features on the DVD, though. :) The reason was that Hitchcock originally shot this movie in 3-d, so he always shot with a foreground, middleground, and background, to enhance the viewers' sense of depth. Pretty ingenius if you ask me.

There are so many great actors in this film. By far my favorite is Ray Milland's performance as Tony, the homicidal husband. He's completely smarmy, but also weirdly charming. I also like the fact that he doesn't portray Tony as completely unfeeling; you can tell that he's not unaffected by the idea of his wife dying.

The other character I loved was the Inspector. He's smart, and he knows there's something fishy about the situation from the very first. It's so nice that a DI would care enough to follow up on a case even after it's been to trial. ;)

Some of the things I didn't like were that you never truly understand why Grace Kelly (aka Margot) married Tony in the first place. What was she smoking? They don't feel like much of a couple and there absolutely no chemistry between the two. Also, I'm not entirely sure that the Inspector's "proof" that Tony planned to kill his wife would stand up in court--but it's a great ending anyway.

Overall this is a great film that I would recommend to anyone who enjoys suspense or mystery movies.

Next up on Summer of Hitchcock is Rear Window. Feel free to join in!

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