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Dial M For Murder (1954)-A Club Discussion

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Dial M For Murder

This is my third time watching Dial M in three years and please don't misunderstand, I love it, but there is something to be said for letting a film ferment in your mind for a period of time before returning to it. As usual Hitch sets the stage with precision. The Milland character is cocksure and he plays the character perfectly. I know I have seen him in other stuff but this is the character of his I will always remember. Once again I am in love with Kelly. I want to jump through the screen and strangle Milland for even thinking about harming this angel. I know @Citizen Rules will come in here and tell me she overacts and the character is under used. Objectively he is correct but subjectively he needs to watch his back.

Every time I have watched Dial M the film kicks in when the detective shows up. He brings a ton of levity and it is also when the great cat and mouse chase begins. I love watching a good detective work in a film. It is so fun to watch them slowly unravel the mystery with skill and precision. This is one of the best examples of it that I can think of in film. That speaks to how tremendous the script is for Dial M, probably the best in all of Hitch's filmography for me thus far.

Really the movie is a pleasure to watch even if I want it to be a couple of years before I watch it again. Hopeful that this one can get some conversation started.




Just to get the discussion rolling (SPOILERS obviously):

Hitchcock and Truffaut don't talk that long about this film in their interviews, but Truffaut does mention that he thinks the detective was presented in a bit of a stereotypical manner and implies that from the moment he enters the picture, the film weakens.

I'm not sure if I agree with him. I've always thought Dial M for Murder was a great film throughout, chock-full of Hithcock's typical moments of suspense. However, I do think the evening of the "murder" is the big climax of the film, despite the extreme cleverness of the ending. There is of course the threat that she will have to undergo the death sentence if they don't quickly solve the case during the second part of the film, but purely atmospherically, the feeling isn't as intense and dark anymore for me after the climax. This may perhaps not be the case when you watch this film for the first time, but for me it definitely is during rewatches. This is more a personal observaton rather than a personal criticism, as I have no problem with a relaxed bit of clever detective work.

The most fascinating thing about this film, compared to the other films that we've been discussing for this club project, is that Hitchcock kind of makes me feel like an accomplice to the husband's plans. Especially during the first half, we're kind of perceiving the reality of the film through his mind. It's a very interesting and yet morally disturbing point of view.
The moment that best demonstrates this given, is probably the "broken watch" moment. In an odd kind of way, Hitchcock lets us feel the husband's nervousness and therefore kind of makes us wanting his horrific plan to succeed...
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Cobpyth's Movie Log ~ 2019



The most fascinating thing about this film, compared to the other films that we've been discussing for this club project, is that Hitchcock kind of makes me feel like an accomplice to the husband's plans. Especially during the first half, we're kind of perceiving the reality of the film through his mind. It's a very interesting and yet morally disturbing point of view.
The moment that best demonstrates this given, is probably the "broken watch" moment. In an odd kind of way, Hitchcock lets us feel the husband's nervousness and therefore kind of makes us wanting his horrific plan to succeed...
Yeah, I thought about this point quite a bit this watch. Hitch is pretty masterful at that. I think that is why he makes the affair such an overt aspect as well. I'm not saying people of the 60's would have been screaming murder her, but I am sure it helped in his goal of putting us in Milland's mind.



I still remember joining Mofo in 2010 and watching this film due to its recommendations. I really loved it, not to the level of Rear Window, but a bit less than that. This was the third Hitchcock film I saw. My first was Rebecca, then Rear Window, then Dial M. It wasn't until quite a bit later I saw Psycho and North by Northwest.



Yeah, I thought about this point quite a bit this watch. Hitch is pretty masterful at that. I think that is why he makes the affair such an overt aspect as well. I'm not saying people of the 60's would have been screaming murder her, but I am sure it helped in his goal of putting us in Milland's mind.
Yeah, the adultery is definitely an important aspect of it too and indeed must have been even more relevant in the 50s, as you claim.
Another aspect that kind of kept me in that disturbing spot during the whole running time, is that I felt a lot more sympathy for Milland's character compared to Robert Cummings' character. The fact that I'm a huge fan of Ray Milland as an actor and as a screen personality is probably the main reason for this, but the fact that the latter is immediately portrayed as a wife stealer certainly helps. This especially pays off in the second half of the film. On a certain level, I still wanted Milland's character to succeed during that phase as well.



Once again I am in love with Kelly. I want to jump through the screen and strangle Milland for even thinking about harming this angel. I know @Citizen Rules will come in here and tell me she overacts and the character is under used. Objectively he is correct but subjectively he needs to watch his back.
Oh my that's one big crush you got there Sean

...I felt a lot more sympathy for Milland's character compared to Robert Cummings' character. The fact that I'm a huge fan of Ray Milland as an actor and as a screen personality is probably the main reason for this, but the fact that the latter is immediately portrayed as a wife stealer certainly helps. This especially pays off in the second half of the film. On a certain level, I still wanted Milland's character to succeed during that phase as well.
That's all true for me too. I was almost rooting for Ray Milland and I don't think that's what Hitch had in mind. Milland is one of my favorite actors and he does command the movie. Talk about a strong screen presence. Cummings on the other hand was milquetoast. He's good in comic roles, but ill cast here.

And Grace? she didn't overact, she was stiff. That's what Hitch said himself. Now obviously her beauty and charm made up for that, as Sean proves Grace is a neutral for me in the movie, but what keeps me from liking it is the unbelievablity that she would have an affair with Robert Cummings. I just don't buy it, so suspension of disbelief doesn't take place for me.



Grace is a neutral for me in the movie, but what keeps me from liking it is the unbelievablity that she would have an affair with Robert Cummings. I just don't buy it, so suspension of disbelief doesn't take place for me.
I agree with you guys about the difference between Milland and Cummings when it comes to screen presence for sure. I can't go this far though. Cummings is a goid looking dude, the character has money, and by all accounts doesn't appear to be a psychopath. He looks younger to me as well, I never have a problem buying the affair.



28 days...6 hours...42 minutes...12 seconds
Dial M For Murder

(Alfred Hitchcock)






"People don't commit murder on credit."

My Hitchcock viewing has been very limited. This marks my fifth film from the master of suspense and it lands near the top. Very meticulous thriller that had me excited to see where it would go and I wonder why it took me so long watch this gem. Then again, I've yet to see a lot of Hitchcock so I'm wondering why it's taking me so long to see others.

Tony discovers that his wife is having an affair and plots to have the perfect murder done. When things don't go according to plan, he somehow manages to come up with a brilliant plan B.

Most of this film, much like Hitchcock's brilliant Rear Window takes place inside an apartment. Despite the lack of varied settings, this did not distract from any of the tension the film brilliantly builds upon. I had myself thinking numerous steps ahead trying to figure out how he could get away with such a thing, or how I would try and catch him. Things get a little convoluted once the issue of apartment keys come into play and I think it distracts from the actual film itself, but despite that, this film was a lot of fun.

Grace Kelly, beautiful as always, plays Margot, the intended victim. Most of her performance is reactionary but serviceable, the real stand out in my opinion is the quick witted Tony Wendice played by the suave Ray Milland. At times I found myself hoping he would get away with it, other times I wanted to see his brilliant plan fall apart. Hitchcock balances the tightrope pretty well here. Each obstacle that gets in Tony's way, he manages to side step. I kept wondering how or if he would eventually get caught.

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I asked this question in my original review and markf 'answered' it, but I'd like to hear more thoughts on it.

When the Inspector switches coats with Tony and takes the key to the apartment, to me it simply doesn't make sense.

He has the key to the apartment and hides upstairs, leaving Tony with Swan's apartment key. When Tony leaves, he doesn't bother to lock his apartment door? This is my issue. We know, from numerous shots of the door on the inside that it doesn't automatically lock when people leave. Clearly Tony would have locked the door and when he did, it wouldn't have worked. Thus tipping him off on the switch. But he doesn't bother to lock the door. The detective proceeds to go to the door and unlock it? What? The door shouldn't be locked.

This would completely change the outcome of the ending. Tony trying to lock the door but not being able to would make him know that something was wrong, he wouldn't have gotten caught.

Second, why would Margot know about the key under the stairs? The Inspector is banking on her not knowing about it, but wouldn't she of just let Swann in anyway? She was home, why the need for her to put the key there. That aspect doesn't add up either. If someone has an explanation, I'm glad to hear it.
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Suspect's Reviews



I'm disappointed in those who don't like Grace's acting. Shame on you, mofos.
Blame Sean I had actually decided not to comment on Dial M for Murder because I didn't care for it. But I got that @mention so had to come



That's a good catch Suspect and you're not going to get a good answer. That's the kind of stuff directors like Hitch can put in their films because 98% of watchers are pea brains like me who never catch that type of stuff.



Blame Sean I had actually decided not to comment on Dial M for Murder because I didn't care for it. But I got that @mention so had to come
I think a lot of it is screen presence, but I still think she talented.

Consider her my classic version of Rachel McAdams.



"The Internal Bleeding Dance." - Violet
If someone has an explanation, I'm glad to hear it.
I'll give it a shot. Tony has a lot on his mind planning a murder and hiding the truth when the attempt fails. Hitchcock establishes a precedent when Tony walks out behind Margot and Hubbard, through the back glass door/window, simply pulling the door/window closed behind him. This demonstrates a clear lack of concern for whether the doors to the place are locked or unlocked. Just a thought.
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The detective proceeds to go to the door and unlock it? What? The door shouldn't be locked.
It's been a year since I watched the film, but I think the detective is not necessarily unlocking the door. He might just be checking if the key works.



I never thought of Rachel McAdams (who I like) as a modern day Grace Kelly. Maybe Nicole Kidman is more comparable to Grace.

Nicole Kidman played Grace in Grace of Monaco (2014). If you are a fan of Grace you might enjoy it. And I just seen there's another movie, Grace Kelly (1983).

Really guys, I don't dislike her, and I do think she's pretty and has poise and charm. I think for me, it depends on the movie that she's in. I ordered To Catch a Thief, andsomething tells me Grace will pair well with Cary Grant.



"The Internal Bleeding Dance." - Violet
We know, from numerous shots of the door on the inside that it doesn't automatically lock when people leave.
At around 1h 02m into the film, the inspector demonstrates that the front door does have the ability to lock automatically, simply by showing us how he opens and closes it.



"The Internal Bleeding Dance." - Violet
Second, why would Margot know about the key under the stairs? The Inspector is banking on her not knowing about it, but wouldn't she of just let Swann in anyway? She was home, why the need for her to put the key there.
WARNING: "SPOILERS" spoilers below
I can't even place this under suspicion, it's a non-issue for me. The inspector confirms that Margo has no idea that her key doesn't work and why it doesn't work. She reports this to the policeman who brought her. This means she didn't take it out of Swann's pocket. Then, he confirms that Tony has no idea that Margo's key doesn't work, until he tries it. Only Tony knows where that key came from. He then puts it all together in his head, that he probably took Swann's own house key and searches under the stairwell carpet for Margo's key. Guilty.



28 days...6 hours...42 minutes...12 seconds
At around 1h 02m into the film, the inspector demonstrates that the front door does have the ability to lock automatically, simply by showing us how he opens and closes it.
I'll have to watch it again, I do not remember it locking automatically. I always remembered him actually taking the time to lock the door.