Dial M for Murder (1954) is one of Alfred Hitchcock’s best films. The film stars Grace Kelly (Margot Wendice), Ray Milland (Tony Wendice), Robert Cummings (Mark Halliday), and John Williams (Chief Hubbard).
So, here’s how the story goes. Tony and Margot Wendice are a married couple in London. He is a tennis professional. She is a beautiful, friendly girl with a large inheritance. Think you know what happens next? Well, of course, gorgeous Margot is having an affair. The other man’s name in Mark Halliday, an American crime novelist. Tony discovers her infidelity, and decides to do something about it. Well, like all rationally-thinking men (sarcasm, people), he decides to murder Margot. The perfect murder is planned and set to run like clockwork. However, things go awry. I’ll stop here, because I do not want to give anything else away.
Like Mark Halliday says, “in stories things usually turn out the way the author wants them to; and in real life they don’t… always.”
What makes this film so great?
The film opens up with Margot and Tony Wendice enjoying a nice breakfast. They look content. Fast foward a couple of seconds and the audience sees that this is not the case. Margot is seen with her other lover, Mark Halliday. Hitchcock never wants the audience to be too comfortable, does he?
I love Ray Milland’s acting in this film. Maybe it’s just me, but he never lets his character show any sympathy during the entire film. There does not seem to be any remorse for what he wants to do. He presents this clever and cold person. But for some reason, there’s a part of you that wants him to get away with what he is doing!
Grace Kelly, throughout the film, looks like a princess (but when does she not?). Interestingly, I read on IMDb that Hitchcock purposely dressed her in colorful outfits at the beginning. Throughout the film, her outfits become darker. I love how Hitchcock used her outfits to display the mood of not only Margot, but of the Wendices’ apartment.
I cannot express how genius Alfred Hitchcock was. His use of space, props, and color really complete this film. By filming most of the scenes within the Wendices’ apartment, he creates a sense of claustrophobia. According to IMDb, he hand selected almost all of the props seen in the apartment. For those who have seen the film, you know the significant role that the props play.
Dial M for Murder is a great film. I highly recommend it to film lovers, or just anybody at all! It’s entertaining and suspenseful.