“Dial M for Murder” – 5 Reasons Why You’d Better Dial

Hollywood, 1953. An acclaimed Bri ish director with a hard-earned three-decade career, a chubby belly, and a balding head; with a pouty lower lip and a double-chin chuckle; the director you’ll keep bumping into on every “10 best” list; the guy we assume got named after the Hitchcockian type of movies; “The Master of All Suspense”; that is, director Alfred Hitchcock is in the process of directing “Dial M for Murder”, set to premiere the following year.

The movie storytells of Machiavellian character Tony Wendice (Ray Milland), a Londoner who viciously but elaborately plots to have his unfaithful wife Margot Wendice (Grace Kelly) murdered.

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A still frame from the film “Dial M For Murder” by Alfred Hitchcock


1. Camera: “Dial M for Murder” started out as a simple theatre play wannabe and slowly social-climbed its way up to the lair of… up to Hollywood. So, with the humble hopes of settling for the vibes of a theatre play, one day as he went about his day destroying Tippi Hedren’s career (that didn’t really happen until years later), Hitchcock had a magical light bulb over his head telling him to set the entire movie in One.Single.Room.

This room is as goode as your uncredited cast member, one whom you’ll never notice until you’ve been through it all together – you’ve seen it change shape, you’ve sensed it set people up, you’ve heard it breathe with the breath of a beast.

What more could Hitch do to ensure the à la mode, bleeding-edge 1954 experience, you ask?

The use of 3D cameras is your key ingredient.

And so he did.

So, this is a color feature, which, naturally, brings about:

2. Costume design: Grace Kelly in a glamorous red A-line in the second-to opening scene.

A vibrant scarlet Passiflora at her bloom’s peak; similar use of symbolisms as the you-know-what train entering the you-know-what tunnel in a different Hitchcock epic.
An advanced thought provoker, you see.

If, say, the dress were white (purity, innocence) or a faded color with a modest silhouette (sadness, unavailability), however, it would have never hit us the same and we would have never gone like “Cheater, Cheater, Pumpkin Eater” at Grace Kelly way before we ever got the chance to see who is the monster and who is the man of the story.

And, speaking of an A-line, well 50’s fashion is full of them. A woman’s figure, her curves, and her sex appeal became ever more praised and defined by fashion than they were in the 40’s. What is your opinion on that? How did it come to be? Who had the final call there and why? What, you think designers? How about war?

3. Acting: Have you ever seen an Alfred Hitchcock film with bad acting? He had the world at his disposal. All the guy had to do was put in a hard day at work and eeny-meeny-miny-moe between talented Grace Kelly, Ingrid Bergman, or Tippi Hedren. Oh, and yeah, not forget to call it a day.

4. Dialogue: After having completed your Saturday cinema treat, decide if you can:

– would you rather have the sound off and – wait for it – watch the feature’s visuals;

or

– listen to some priceless Hitchcock dialogue and – wait for it – dary.

  So, this Hitchcock guy we keep mentioning believed in this “pure cinema” thing, i.e. visual storytelling. Nevertheless, in this movie, he placed great emphasis on dialogue. It’s idyllic, it’s theatrical, we love it.

5. The story: Give a man a shock and you will feed their attention for 10 seconds; give them suspense and you will feed them for an hour 45’!

Warning – Spoilers Ahead!!!

But, here’s where he comes short: Although we hail his majestic execution in both drama and cinematography, could you honestly claim he ever sold you on that police work?! Oh, is that how we solve cases? Well, as long as we’re alive in the 50’s we might as well just walkout, go home, and binge-read Agatha. Way better police work there, oh they even check if it’s the right key before they put someone to death most of the time. Yeah yeah, we just told you, it was an adaptation, the plot was not his idea, blah, blah.
But, the guy’s always doing that. Just sayin’. No, we’re not angry. Don’t call us angry. That’s just how we talk.

Johnny Boogieman

About Johnny Boogieman (né Johnathan Boogiemanovich Goode) is an American comedy reviewer and a self-proclaimed cinema connoisseur, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist. … Johnny grew up on a farm in Louisiana, as the only child of a Louisiana-based field worker, dressmaker, dog hairstylist, dog collar jewelry designer, dog walker for the elderly (dogs and owners), disabled and elderly dog walking aids creator-in-attempt, and homemaker, Dutch single mother. As large a clientele as dogs were for the barely-gasping-for-air family business, they were the proud owners of a single tabby cat alone, a streetwise and self-dependent hunter known by either of the street names Stringer Bell and El Capo (sometimes referred to as El Cato). … Having been amazed by the crazy wild early readings of Jules Verne, Johnny’s school days were spent dreaming he’d someday make for a good storyteller. Hence, as early as fourth grade, eager to prove himself to the world, he went for it and constructed a well-balanced heartbeat-skipping thrilling essay, pointing out to some well-reasoned critique of society and solid character arcs, committing to his talents to the fullest and diving right into that pool of majestic phrasing and complexity of thought, confident he’d soon get bejeweled with a spotless A and a pretty clap by the teacher, with gradually having the whole class join in looking up to him as he emerges from his seat to receive his essay evaluation. When results day came, though, little Johnny not only got a D, but he was mocked by the teacher and class for the gullible overexposure of his fragile overambitious mutating childish writing skills of questionable taste and poor poor quality. It was the “you’re tearing me apart, Lisa” equivalent of a child’s essay. He was rather massacred. He never got that brave ever again. … Anyway, Johnny mainly spent his summers field-working on a sunflower field with his uncle Berry under the widespread wings of the storks and the chesty white doves and clever black crows who all flew right under the neighbor’s umbrella caps patio ceiling installation thingy as soon as the first raindrop was godshed over the one-eyed monsters battalion that the sunflower sea was to Johnny. It drove the unwilling bird host nuts, and he’d storm right out yelling and cursing at the birds, “we’re going, we’re going” they went, and flew a semi-circle over the umbrella caps as to fool him and came right back the other way around pretending to be some fresh arrivals of clueless law-abiding American birds not yet acquainted with the police system of the patio. The guy wouldn’t take it out as it took ages to plant and he and his wife thought it made them look like fancy DIY people who had some ideas worthy of admiration. Oh, the bird manure, though, oh the bird manure. “Work your time, boy” – staring Johnny’s uncle frowned, his eye twinkled. … Cinema was to Johnny what he made plans for, what he made time for, what he looked up to all his life, and as he became a young adult, what he fancied himself to have a special talent to understand. It was the sort of a sixth sense, an intuition, a gut sense. He was the squad movie buff and a film whisperer. “No”, it whispered, “Fight Club ain’t no bueno. Mark my words and don’t ask why ‘cos you ain’t schooled enough to know why, boy.” He tried, though, he debated and disputed over a glass of scotch-on-the-rocks and under the jibe of a saxophone jazz, but it was as fruitless and dull as the poetry he wrote - unclean, uneven, and too abstract - as if he hadn’t found a voice to speak in yet. He did his part for years to come, reading as all writers ought to, writing and not publishing until he found out what he had to say with the peculiar piece of work. As for cinema, it happened one evening as he discussed legs-up-a-recliner their plans for the future with his lover-cum-best friend in their rented one-bedroom living space in New Jersey, that his lover casually contributed: “And then I thought we could start a film blog and you could do the content writing” – words that sunflower field Johnny with his gangster cat and his dewy eyes staring at the rainy-day con birds thought he’d never hear.

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