I have got to start watching older more well-renowned movies. This is an oath.
Dial M For Murder is the catalyst for this new movie quest. Alfred Hitchcock’s 1954 crime thriller uses minimal sets, concise dialogue and strong acting to make a fast-paced and enthralling drama. Frederick Knott’s screenplay, taken from his own play, allows for Hitchcock to use his unique vision and framing.
There are only five major characters in Dial M For Murder. Ray Milland plays Tony Wendice, a former tennis player who is angered that his wife Margot, played by Grace Kelly, is cheating on him with Mark Halliday, who’s played by Robert Cummings. Through means of blackmail, Tony hires his old college pal Charles Swann, played by Anthony Lawson, to kill Margot.
Naturally a well throughout of plan goes belly-side-up and entire in Chief Inspector Hubbard, played by John Williams (no not that John Williams).
I think my newfound appreciation for the older films, in particular black & white pictures for some reason, has to do with the writing and dialogue. The back-and-forth “why” and “how” subtle information seeking questions between Tony Wendice and Hubbard are oozing with good acting and magnetism. That way of delivering exposition and clues through wit and a character’s own knowledge is intoxicating. The same kind of tactic was used in 12 Angry Men and The Day The Earth Stood Still. The last two movies that matched the dialogue of Dial M For Murder are Once Upon A Time In Hollywood and Casablanca.
The way the story unfolds on the silver screen is incredibly similar to that of a theatrical play. The blocking of the set, the purposeful moving of the characters and use of props; there is even an intermission (I know it’s often an occurrence during this age in movies).
The only drawback to this story is Margot. Looking back, it appears that Grace Kelly got strong recognition for her acting. She was nominated for Best Foreign Actress by BAFTA and Bambi. The thing is…I just don’t agree. Her part was in a damsel in distress role and her feeblish nature came off as over-acting. The strongest performer is Milland as the antagonist, and then Hubbard as the Kevin Kline-esq chief.
End the ending to Dial M For Murder fits the same motif. It’s wonderful the approach to one another that Tony, Mark and Hubbard have with one another. There isn’t ill-will toward between the characters, rather it’s a respect that plays out in the proper playful tones.
I seriously just recommend Dial M For Murder. It is a fantastic movie that flows wonderfully and manages to look even better than the majority of movies today.