Dial M for Murder ★★★

I generally don’t like films based on stageplays, and going into it, I didn’t realize that Dial M for Murder is one. For the first fifteen minutes of characters standing around talking, I was bouncing off it pretty hard, but thankfully once Ray Milland started revealing his scheme I was sucked into the charms of his villainous glee pretty quickly. I guess this is Hitchcock redoing the same one set quasi-real time thing he tried in Rope, and here it was more successful for me. Milland gives a much stronger performance than the principals in that movie, and Dial M for Murder doesn’t have any of the awkwardly preachy moralizing I snoozed through in Rope. Instead, Hitchcock more or less invites the viewer to root for Milland, even while conveying the same theme of amoral hubris meeting a comeuppance.

I was surprised to see Grace Kelly playing such a subservient character here. I’m mostly familiar with her from multiple viewings of Rear Window and To Catch a Thief, and I figured that her characters’ confidence in those was pretty much her star persona. I was disappointed with her use here outside of the home invasion sequence.

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