Friday, April 29, 2011
Dial M For Murder
Now this is a movie! I watched it again the other day just to remind myself what true genius is. "Dial M For Murder" was made in 1954 and stars Grace Kelly, Ray Milland and Robert Cummings. It was directed, of course, by Alfred Hitchcock. The screenplay was written by Frederick Knott as an adaptation of his play. "Dial M For Murder" is the story of Margot (the unbelievably beautiful Grace Kelly) and Tony (Ray Milland), a couple who is struggling with their marriage. Margot had had an affair with Mark Halliday (Robert Cummings) while Tony was on tour as a tennis player but had called it off. Tony knew about the affair but did not tell Margot. Tony gave up tennis under the guise that he wanted to be closer to Margot but actually started to hatch a plot to kill her. He hires an old school buddy to do the deed but things go terribly wrong and the school buddy ends up dead instead. Honestly, you have to watch it for yourself to see how the plot builds upon the intricacies of the players involved and the way Hitchcock sets each scene with such care. He uses shadows and light to invoke a mood and build the suspense. Ray Milland is magnificent as Tony, playing him as both the injured husband and the cold-blooded plotter of murder. Grace Kelly is luminescent as Margot. Her scene with the would-be murderer is exceptionally chilling and her reactions after the attack are heartbreaking. When Tony comes home to supposedly help her when she is attacked, you want to yell at the screen and warn Margot of his deceptions. Hitchcock makes you feel as if you are such a part of the action that you become increasingly uncomfortable and frustrated that you can't warn the players of the danger they are in. And that is where Hitchcock's true genius lies. His ability to present a story, draw you in and create visions and scenes that are unforgettable has and never will be duplicated. His films have a signature that is unmistakable. Even today, "Dial M For Murder" is relevant, accessible and thoroughly enjoyable.