1. A model of excellence or perfection of a kind; a peerless example
Sunday, 4 August 2013
Dial M for Murder
I don't normally use this blog to talk about anything other than my art and comics but sometimes, just sometimes, something grabs me and I want to shout about it.
I went to see the re-issue of Dial M for Murder yesterday at the cinema and I truly recommend it, especially as the re-issue is in 3D. The film was originally released in that format but as I'm sure you are aware, things have improved within the format in the last sixty years (no red and green lensed cardboard glasses these days!) so it was ripe for a re-release.
I've seen the film a number of times on TV (I'm a huge Hitchcock fan) but hadn't seen it in a long time, to the point where I couldn't remember the intricacies of the plot and the only 3D moment I could really remember was the attempted murder scene;
where poor Margot reaches out behind her head (and out to the audience) to find something to fend off her attacker, scrabbling around for a pair of scissors on the desk. But that's not the only bit that works; as she answers the phone, and the would be murderer steps from behind the curtain tightening the scarf he intends to strangle her with, the depth of image as she almost hangs up the phone and he moves his hands forward, pulls back and tries again is just astonishing. Hitchcock really knew what he was doing with this format. When you see it flat on TV it works, and works well, but see it on the big screen in 3D with no distractions in the room and the suspense is palpable.
From the very first image when the M looms out of the telephone dial in the title of the movie, you just know you are in for a treat. Seeing it on the silver screen in 3D also helps explain some of the low camera shots as the viewpoint prowls around the room; there always seems to be a lamp, a table edge, a bottle, an arm-rest in the foreground adding depth to the image.
If you've seen it before you will know it is based on a stage play and as such is indeed very stagey and the investigation and denouement is unrealistic - it would never happen in the real world, but for all that, it is a wonderful piece of entertainment. Milland as the urbane criminal cuckold and Kelly as the cheating wife, framed for murder; your support swings from one to the other depending who is onscreen - you don't want Kelly to hang for the death of a man who attacked her but you also want Milland to get away with it... perfect casting.
A final word on the casting - John Williams who played the inspector would have been perfect as Sir Gerald Tarrant in a Modesty Blaise movie. If only!