Sunday, September 4, 2011

Dial M for Murder (1954)

“An ex-tennis pro carries out a plot to murder his wife. When things go wrong, he improvises a brilliant plan B.” - official description. 

Imagine pitching a movie to a studio in 1954 with that line. 

Actually, if you’re really imagining that, I’m sorry that you look like Alfred Hitchcock and scare young children just by looking at them. 

Isn’t blackmailing someone to murder your wife the most eccentric (and lazy) way to kill? And when things go wrong instead of giving up you plan an even more complicated yet-brilliant-in-theory plan? Even the best detective stories/murder mysteries can’t force such a clever chain of events. 

Such original ideas (the film was adapted from a play) are very rare in today’s hollywood, since studios want location shoots and CGI and 3D - which makes this film even more relevant.

M is my favorite Hitchcock film. He stays true to the play which the film was adapted from (Frederick Knott, the playwright, also wrote the screenplay), using his camera to only enhance the story in terms of depth and not scenery. Also, the husband-wants-to-kill-wife (and vice versa) plot has been beaten to death - but this film started the trend and has yet to be surpassed. This film launched my love for 50’s films and TV shows.

Hollywood in the 1950‘s was all about the actors, with their own style and personality being used as character elements, and not the other way around as is apparent in hollywood today. But that’s why we have cinema eras, so we can go back and reminisce instead of trying to sit through remakes of classics (I’m looking at you, Pyscho (1998)). 

Let’s hope no one in their right mind ever tries to remake The Godfather. I can stand an unnecessary-and-two-decades-too-late sequel (Godfather Part 3), but no one should be paid to do a bad impression of Brando. 

Bollywood Readers: Many of you may have seen Humraaz (2002) by Abbas-Mastan - heavily inspired by Dial M for Murder and one of the best films India has ever “borrowed” from hollywood. The video below should remind you of a certain scene from the film. 

Author’s Note: Grace Kelly is gorgeous; why would anyone ever want to kill her? Just for this reason the film makes no sense to me. Also, wanting to hear your wife die on the phone is pure evil. 

Greatness elements: Story, cast, music, direction.

Favorite Scene: This is how the movie begins - YOUTUBE LINK

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