Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Movie Review: Dial "M" For Murder

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Great acting and fun story
Cons: Not quite as suspenseful as some of Hitchcock’s other efforts
The Bottom Line:
Murder unravels
Will the right person get caught?
Enjoy twists and turns

"I Don't Like Thrillers When I'm Alone."

Money and greed.  Love, hate, and marriage.  These are universal plot drivers in literature, but especially mysteries.  And they help form the plot for Hitchcock’s Dial M for Murder as well.

Based on a play of the same name, the movie tells the story of Tony (Ray Milland) and Margot Mary (Grace Kelly) Wendice.  Tony used to be a tennis pro, traveling all over the world.  But a year ago, he gave that up, and their marriage has never been better.

All of that is a sham, however.  While Tony was off playing tennis, his wife had fallen in love with Mark (Robert Cummings), an American mystery writer over in England for a few months.  She broke it off, but Tony already knew and has been plotting his revenge ever since.  See, she is rich, so he must kill her and create the perfect way to do so in order to inherit her money.  He blackmails an old college friend into helping him commit the crime.  But will he get away with murder?

Since this movie was based on a play, much of the action takes place in the flat of Tony and Margot Mary.  It doesn’t stay strictly in that one location, but it is close.  I realize that is one of Hitchcock’s trademarks to increase tension, but I like it because the one location is all you need.  Much more than we got would absolutely create a distraction, something I wish people adapting plays today would understand.  Instead, it keeps the audience focused on the story, so we feel the same tension the characters do.

When Hitchcock is at the top of his game, I can find myself drawn into a movie and on the edge of my seat.  I wasn’t quite that engrossed in this movie.  However, I certainly enjoyed it.  There was a twist coming I didn’t expect, and seeing how everything would play out was fun.  I wasn't on the edge of my seat, but it certainly kept my attention.

The acting from everyone was great.  This was the first time that Hitchcock worked with Grace Kelly, and they obvious enjoyed it since they made two more films together.  Ray Milland and Robert Cummings were equally good as the male leads.  And John Williams, who played Chief Inspector Hubbard was very fun when he came into the story as well.

While not reaching the top tier of Hitchcock’s films for me, I certainly did enjoy it, and I’d watch it again.  If you haven’t seen Dial M for Murder yet, plan to do so today.

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