Best Movies of All Time + thriller


Not Rated

"In stories, things usually turn out the way the author wants them to, and in real life, they don't... always."
-- Mark Halliday

Dial M for Murder is a 1954 crime thriller directed by Alfred Hitchcock that centers around a man's plot to have his unfaithful wife murdered. When former tennis player Tony Wendice (Ray Milland) learns of an ongoing affair between his wife Margot (Grace Kelly) and Mark Halliday (Robert Cummings), he sets into motion what he considers to be the perfect plot for murder. He hires an old college classmate (Anthony Dawson) to commit the crime in the hopes of achieving an alibi for himself. However, things don't necessarily go according to plan, with Margot inadvertently killing the murderer-for-hire after he attacks her. Taken aback, Tony starts to spin a web of lies and deceit that seem to place quite a bit of the blame on his wife. The stories become increasingly more convoluted, causing the characters an extreme amount of angst and confusion.

I've been meaning to watch Dial M for Murder for quite some time, especially considering the great Hitchcock is one of my favorite directors of all time. I finally had the opportunity to sit down and give this one a view, and I can honestly tell you that I'm anything but disappointed. Hitchcock crafts a tale full of twists and turns, delivering a final product that's worthy of every accolade it has ever received.

I'm going to start with the acting because I'll have more to say about the screenplay in a moment. I thought that the cast as a whole was terrific, with great performances from the aforementioned Kelly and Cummings. We also get a solid piece from John Williams, who plays the chief inspector in the film. However, this movie truly belongs to Ray Milland, who plays one of the most clever and intriguing villains I've ever seen grace the silver screen. He's charming and witty, and all that hides the sinister nature of his intentions throughout the film. There's something very charismatic about Milland's approach to playing the character, and he should be commended for his portrayal.

As good as the acting is during the film, however, the actors would be powerless without a strong screenplay; this is where the film truly succeeds and excels. From a plot standpoint, there's enough to keep even the casual viewer interested and engaged. Yes, we as the audience know the truth behind all the lies, but seeing the characters come to their realizations - or dealing with the realizations, as is the case with Milland's character - is part of the fun of the film. There's enough twists and turns to keep you guessing until the very end of the film. That being said, I also have to applaud screenwriter Frederick Knott for also finding a way to keep the dialogue fresh and inspired throughout the film's entirety. Sure, the delivery of the lines is key, but having the base dialogue we're given is enough for me to fawn over this screenplay. While it's not the best screenplay from a Hitchcock film - I'm rather fond of Psycho, to be honest - it definitely ranks near the top of the list.

I'd also like to take a moment and applaud composer Dimitri Tiomkin for crafting an excellent musical score that suited the film rather well. Music can make or break a film's effectiveness, and I'm glad Tiomkin found a way to make it the former.

Overall, I would say that Dial M for Murder is a probable must-see. I know a lot of casual moviegoers from my generation are a little turned off by older films, but there's enough snap and bite to this one that I think they'll find something they can truly enjoy. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride!

Movie Review Summary
Grade: A
2 Thumbs Up

Addition to Rankings
Best All-Time: #139

1954, Alfred Hitchcock, Anthony Dawson, Dial M for Murder, Dimitri Tiomkin, drama, Frederick Knott, Grace Kelly, John Williams (II), life, movie review, NR, Ray Milland, Robert Cummings, and more:

Relevant to: DIAL M FOR MURDER + thriller