Dial M for Murder (1954)
Starring Grace Kelly, Ray Milland, and Robert Cummings
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Ray Milland plays Brit Tony Wendice, an ex-tennis pro, whose wife, Margot (Grace Kelly), is having an affair with American crime writer Mark Halladay (Robert Cummings). Tony has discovered this news and creates a plot to murder his wife. He hires a small-time crook and his detailed planning goes into action. Needless to say, things don't go perfectly and Tony finds the cogs in his brain having to work overtime in order to save himself.
There are two scenes that work extremely well here. One is the scene in which Tony describes in great detail to the crook what will happen when he breaks into the Wendice's apartment to kill Margot. Hitchcock shoots the scene from high above the apartment, staring down at the two men. In a single shot, Hitch follows the men as the crisscross the room, going back and forth with his camera. It's a wonderfully shot sequence. It is, however, overshadowed by the amazingly tense murder sequence. I'm not going to reveal here whether Tony's crime is carried out, but I was genuinely surprised at how anxious I was as the scene was unfolded. Beautifully filmed and edited, this is the moment we're so used to seeing from Hitch.
Unfortunately, most of the remainder of the film is fairly undramatic. The flick is very talky, and, like Rope, it feels like a play...and that's not necessarily a good thing. Any jittery anxiousness we the audience are feeling is brought down to such a low level by all the excessive verbiage that is being spewed about onscreen. It's ultimately this wordiness (along with, to a lesser extent, no stand-out performances from the three lead actors) that is the movie's downfall.
But apparently I'm alone in this thought as the film was #9 on the American Film Institute's best mystery films of all time. Also of interest, this film was originally shot in 3D, oddly enough, and based on a short documentary on the dvd, it looks like it would have been quite good in that format.
The RyMickey Rating: C-