Dial M for Murder (1954) Review

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Dial F for Fun

Dial M for Murder (1954): 8 out of 10: A one-room how to do it (There is no mystery on the whodunnit front) directed by the man himself Alfred Hitchcock and starring Ray Milland, Grace Kelly, and Robert Cummings as the murdering husband, the victim wife and the adulterous lover respectfully.

This is a very cheap film. Except for a gentlemen’s club scene that is easily skippable, the entire enterprise takes place in one apartment with about six people. There are no car chases or explosions. Not even a gunshot. I bring this up because of a pet peeve of mine. I constantly hear the excuse that the movie wasn’t good because of the budget. The ye olde they did what they could with what they had.

What they, of course, should say is our scriptwriter and actors are talentless hacks, so what do you expect. Nobody wants to say that, so he or she blames the budget. After all, what could you expect for so little money? Well.. you could perform Dial M for Murder in your living room with a few neighbors and maybe a cat dressed as a constable.

Now in all fairness to all those aspiring Hitchcocks out there, most of you don’t have a successful stage play as a starting point neither do you have a Grace Kelly or Ray Milland among your group of friends and neighbors. (You probably have at least one Robert Cummings). That makes a difference in a one-room play to screen adaptation (See Glengarry Glen Ross when it comes to stacking the acting deck).

The story is nice and tight and expertly told. Ray Milland is perfect as the genial murderer while Grace Kelly is such a stunning beauty in this one that one has to wonder about Ray Milland’s motivation. Dial M for Murder is a fun movie that holds up extremely well.

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