Dial M for Murder

Dial M for Murder ★★★★★

"Do you really believe in the perfect murder?"

Dial M for Murder is a fascinating film. It's one of the all time great mysteries and it teaches us all a lesson in life about marriage. Is that person with me because they love me or for what I have? Meaning money or material things.

The story is about Tony Wendice (Ray Milland), an ex-tennis player, unhappily married to Margot Mary Wendice (Grace Kelly), correctly guesses that she has been cheating, with Mark Halliday (Robert Cummings). Mark writes crime stories. Unbeknown to Margot and Mark, Tony knows about the affair and wants to teach Margot a little lesson by taking away the thing that is her life, but being too guileful to do it himself, Wendice blackmails one of his old school friends Charles Alexander Swann/Captain Lesgate (Anthony Dawson) into murdering her and the essential thing to doing it is his latchkey.

Dial M for Murder succeeds on many levels and it's largely thanks to some superb dialogue, written from a tricksy, yet capable script that never gets too deep. It showcases Alfred Hitchcock, the "Master of Suspense" at his finest.

The cast are a treat: Tony Wendice (Ray Milland) is an absolute gem, extremely sly and dispassionate, yet a character so full of self-assurance that one almost sides with him. Margot Mary Wendice (Grace Kelly) completes her great year (she gave an Oscar-winning performance in "The Country Girl" and also starred in "Rear Window") by emanating the poised, beautiful being, that is vulnerable, yet oddly unassailable and it's weird in that even though she's cheating on her husband, you care for her a lot more than him. Also, Chief Inspector Hubbard (John Williams) as the police detective is quite wonderful.

Alfred Hitchcock manipulates and enthrals his audience here like the master that he is. Each scene has a sense of direction, great pacing and is staged realistically. Stunning full color photography and a haunting, atmospheric score from Dimitri Tiomkin complete this great package.

Overall, Dial M for Murder is one of the best thrillers of cinema history, with a theatrical story supported by an excellent screenplay and top-notch performances.

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