Dial M for Murder

Dial M for Murder ★★★★★

I always forget how experimental Hitchcock feels when compared to most filmmakers (no matter the genre). This is almost entirely based on waiting and therefore experiment with time, seeing how situations are developed and how they are ultimately solved, solve themselves or turn out to be. It's also frustrating, darkly funny and oppressive, forcing us to (more or less) side with the murderous husband when he plans the murder and we follow its execution.

Grace Kelly and Robert Cummings are almost unbearable in the film, mainly because Hitchcock doesn't give their story much time nor does he develop it into anything meaningful (not to mention how wooden the acting is) - in the film about Grace Kelly's murder, she herself is forced into side-role. One could make a fine case against Hitchcock's misogyny but since the whole thing is based on anatomy of murder, other characters aren't that bright either and it's actually interesting process to witness how one sides with the husband through the fact that one wants to see how the whole thing turns out to be (not really morally but because we are forced to live through his excitement). It tells more about the audience than Mr. Hitchcock I suppose. Although I'm not sure how effective it is in those who like to run into conclusions before the film has taken us there.

Hitchcock's fear of police manifests itself in the (this time) "wrong woman" theme that society has with one voice sentenced to death. The police officer, despite his silly way of remarking things, is also quite nasty character because of what remains on the background - he feels like a dependable and sympathetic guy but at the same time he serves system that allows "better murders" and could be in fact more misogynist than Hitchcock ever could. In his career many of his films seem to be based on play between apparent (how it seems, how we assume it is) and subsurface (how it really is with all the strange twists of fate) and Dial M for Murder isn't an exception. This applies to formal invention as well as the story and all the way to systems that are not really seen in the film but that exist in its background and in our everyday.

Purely formal is never really a bad thing with Hitchcock. Hitchcock wants us to always keep on looking and have open eyes for unpredictable life. Cinema takes us to that very intensively, creating its own world, but when it is over life looks quite different in both good and bad since we never know what puppet master is pulling the strings. Luckily these puppet masters are probably making a mistake or few that give us all the right breaks to find the way to beautiful life.

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