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LTTP: Dial M for Murder, a comedy of errors


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I'm late on so many Hitchcock films, which is weird since I dig mysteries, whodunits, and movies related to it (this film is neither but has some elements of a mystery to other characters and some elements of suspense). Our cable provider offers hundreds of films for streaming, which I guess is becoming more prevalent(?), and we saw Dial M for Murder on the list and decided to give it a go.


I'm the kind of person who can have trouble getting into older movies. Sometimes the acting seems weirdly off, sometimes the pacing is slow, so sometimes it takes a second watch for me to really absorb and appreciate a film. But we dug this film pretty quickly. It's not a whodunit, but it is part suspense and part, either advertently or inadvertently, comedy.


The basic premise established early in the film is a rich former tennis player wants his wife murdered and blackmails an old acquaintance to kill her for him. First he tricks the guy into thinking he's there for a car sale and tricks him into thinking he needs a cane, and you can tell from his aura that he's a pretentious little bugger. He has a fantastic plan all thought up and every contingency accounted for. Anytime the blackmailed man points out a flaw, pretentious bugger already thought it through and explains how there's a failsafe. But there's a great bit of foreshadowing: the man his wife is having an affair with -- and that he's well aware the affair is happening but pretends to be ignorant -- is an author of crime stories, and during a regular conversation mentions he'd never attempt a murder despite writing about it because in his books, the crimes go as the author wants, but in real life nothing goes as planned. Same goes for the murder scheme, which starts to present problems before pretentious bugger has a chance to leave his damned house!


It was humorous for us to see how he tried to adapt his plan every time some unforeseen curveball was thrown his way. It's a film worth watching if you haven't without all the little details being spoiled, but it's a film that's really carried by the actors and script. The script is very interesting, establishing that none of the characters are as dumb as the murder-for-hire mastermind seems to think (or at least he thinks he's much smarter than everyone else). There aren't many sets -- I think the film takes place in two, MAYBE three locations -- so it's all about setting the suspense and seeds of his plan and the possible potholes he'll encounter.


Better late than never! That's good stuff. The only Hitchcock film I've seen beside this is Rear Window. My gf never saw that, but she has seen The Birds and Vertigo and Psycho, so I may have to tackle those next whenever we're in a Hitchcock mood.

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