Saturday, 17 July 2010

Movie Review: Dial M For Murder (1954)


In London, struggling professional tennis player Tony Wendice (Ray Milland) plots the perfect murder and an airtight alibi to get rid of his rich but cheating wife Margot (Grace Kelly). 

But while his plan seems ingenious, in practice everything unravels with unintended consequences. Chief Inspector Hubbard (John Williams) and Margot's lover Mark Halliday (Robert Cummings), a crime fiction writer, are soon trying to untangle a mess of a plot gone wrong.

Alfred Hitchcock's adaptation of Frederick Knott's nimble play is both sure-footed and clever. Hitchcock keeps the tone, pacing and settings close to their stage roots, allowing the strength of the story, sharp dialogue and a confident cast to deliver a simple yet gripping film.

Ray Milland as the has-been tennis star husband is effectively slimy and sinister as he conjures up two plots against his wife: the first he planned for years; the second he has to develop in minutes. Grace Kelly does well as the seemingly innocent wife-with-a-lover who is suddenly confronted with death twice over. And John Williams is most watchable as Chief Inspector Hubbard, who uses his wits and old-fashioned detective work to piece together a plot involving a planned yet bungled murder, an unintended victim, apparent blackmail, and infidelity.

Hitchcock delivers thrills, tension and a battle of wits in an economical 105 minutes, and deploys ever-interesting camera angles to wring suspense out of simple settings.

Evil intentions make the call, but Dial M For Murder still gets the right number.






All Ace Black Blog Movie Reviews are here.


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