Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Starring: Grace Kelly, Ray Milland, Robert Cummings, John Williams
Grace Kelly would lead the cast of 1954’s Hitchcock classic Dial M for Murder the story about a perfect murder. 1954 was one of Kelly’s biggest years and she would win a Best Actor Oscar for her role in The Country Girl. She would also work with Hitchcock on the classic Rear Window in the same year. Starring with Kelly was Academy Award winner Ray Milland who had won his Best Actor Oscar for The Lost Weekend in 1946. Rounding out the cast were veteran actors Robert Cummings and John Williams. Alfred Hitchcock brought out his classic style and genius with this film as he reworked the stage play by Frederick Knott for the big screen. Knott would write a story about another perfect murder almost five decades later when he wrote A Perfect Murder in 1998.
When a retired tennis star Tony Wendice (Milland) discovers his wife Morgot (Kelly) is not in love with him he plots the perfect murder. When his wife’s lover Mark Halliday (Cummings) comes to town he arranges for someone else to commit the crime so that he can inherit her estate. When the plan goes awry and the killer ends up dead Wendice is forced to change his plans and implicate his wife. With Chief Inspector Hubbard (Williams) investigating the killing the clues could lead to Margot’s release or her execution. The little details mean everything in this thrilling mystery.
The little details mean everything when it comes to Alfred Hitchcock and his films. Diam M for Murder is no exception to the rule. Like all of his films it takes a simple premise and irons out every little detail. Much like Rope this film questions the possibility of the perfect murder.
This film is a great example of Hitchcock’s brilliance. He manages to make the film using a minimal number of sets and great camera work. Like Rope the film is set almost entirely in one room. The color scheme is designed to be cold and dark for most of the film which lends itself to the plot and the emotions of the story.
The acting is what makes this film more than a good movie. Grace Kelly pulls off perhaps one of the best performances of her relatively short career. Ray Milland is equally great as the cold and calculating husband. The remaining cast members are all great as well. Robert Cummings plays the role of secret lover and staunch supporter of Margot through the film with great skill. John Williams is also amazing as the Chief Inspector. Like most of Hitchcock’s films the remaining cast are largely unnoticed and unimportant, this allows for a clear focus on the important parties.
This is a great murder-mystery which will keep you on the edge of your seat. Hitchcock films tend to be straightforward and clear without being predictable and this is no exception. I would recommend this film for anyone who loves old cinema and a good mystery. I give Dial M for Murder 4.5 out of 5 stars.