Dial “M” for Murder – “E” for Excellent

Rating (4 out of 5)

Summary: I haven’t watched this film in a year or two, and what a pleasure to watch this again. Hitchcock was a master at generating tension and suspense with a simple conversation between people. No gore and blood, no ridiculous car chase. A simple plot to murder his wife, which morphs into framing her for murder. A good film set almost all entirely in their apartment.

Plot: Tony’s (Ray Milliand) wife Margot (Gracy Kelly) had an affair a year ago and she has all the wealth. Tony plots to have a scummy old college mate kill her while he is at a batchelor party. The murder plan backfires, but he is able to frame her for murder. Will anyone discover the truth.

Detail: Tony tricks his old college mate Charles Swann (Anthony Dawson) to come to the apartment to discuss murdering his wife. Charles threatens to walk out, but Tony coerces him by threatening to release information on his current con. Tony keeps explaining the plan and Charles starts considering the crime. Watching Charles evolve from reluctance to co-conspirator was awesome and engaging.

The Chief Inspector Hubbard (John Williams) appears only as a mechanism to charge Margot with murder. However, as he puts together all the pieces of the murder puzzle, he morphs into a thoughtful and intelligent character. He is the smart inspector we all expect.

When the murder setup fails the audience is privileged to watch Tony scurrying around the apartment salvaging the situation. The situation intrigued me and amazed at how he assembled the frame After the setup is established, the movie cuts immediately to after the court trial. Hitchock trusted his audience to assume what happened over those weeks, by sharing merely the results of the timeframe.

“Dial M for Murder” beautifully demonstrates how to write a simple and concise story, but maintaining the audiences attention. So refreshing.