Plot: What’s it about?
Tony Wendice (Ray Milland) was once a professional tennis player, but those days have been passed for a while. He has never been much on normal work, though he never had to be concerned with such things, since he made a comfortable income in the tennis world. But now he has run out of funds and depends on his wife Margot (Grace Kelly), who has a sizable fortune. So he seems to have it made, as his wife can cover his expenses and he won’t have to work to make ends meet, but there is a twist. Margot has been disinterested in her husband for a while now, so she has no plans to pamper him and pay his way through life. She has even found a new man and sparked a romance, so Tony’s days of luxury are quite limited. As he wants Margot’s fortune and knows she would never allow him to control the cash, Tony hatches a most vicious plot. He knows she is involved in an affair with Mark (Robert Cummings), so with his days as her beneficiary closing, he decides to she has to be killed off. He doesn’t want to do the deed himself of course, so he blackmails an acquaintance, Swan (Anthony Dawson) to handle the task. The plan almost works to perfection, but in the end, Tony is left to find a new plot. When he uses the telephone to put his new plan into motion however, someone unexpected is on the line…
The master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock takes you into a new dimension, as his film Dial M for Murder is presented in…3-D! Well, maybe we’re stuck with the flat version on this release, but its always good to see more Hitchcock films available. But even so, it would have been excellent to have a choice between the two versions, right? Hitchcock doesn’t overload the picture with efforts to make the best use of 3-D however, so even in this flat version, the tension remains and the movie is fun to watch. Dial M for Murder falls in the middle of Hitchcock’s work, not up with his finest motion pictures, but above some of the crowd, to be sure. What is impressive about this movie is that Hitchcock takes a simple premise, confined to a single room and makes it work, a feat most directors couldn’t match. The key to the film’s success is style, as Hitchcock conjures up excellent visuals and inventive camerawork. As always, he put together a great cast too and without question, you need superb performers in a film like this one. Ray Milland (The Big Clock, The Lost Weekend) is solid and so is Robert Cummings (Stagecoach, Beach Party), but Grace Kelly (Rear Window, High Noon) steals the show and hands in a wonderful performance. Dial M for Murder is highly recommended, but don’t forget that the film is also included in Warner’s Alfred Hitchcock Signature Collection, which holds eight other Hitchcock thrillers to boot.
Video: How does it look?
Dial M for Murder is presented in full frame, as intended. The transfer here is not on par with the work seen on North by Northwest, but when you stack it up against previous video incarnations, the visuals here look more than solid. The print looks good, with only a moderate level of grain and debris and marks were infrequent. There is a touch of softness, but not enough to worry about and in most scenes, depth and detail are good. As usual, the stock footage used clashes with the rest of the print, since it looks so worn and dated. I found the colors to be vivid and charged, with warm flesh tones and black levels are consistent also. All in all, a more than solid visual effort, though some added clean up would have been welcome.
Audio: How does it sound?
The included mono track covers the basics, but as is the norm with the format, it does little else. But it works well here and I think a new mix would be a waste of resources, so kudos to Warner for keeping with the original tracks on these Hitchcock releases. I found this to be a solid experience and aside from some slight hiss, this track never slips up too much. The music seems well mixed here, the sound effects remain clear and distinct, and the main focus, the dialogue, is crisp and shows no flaws in the end. This disc also includes a French language track, as well as subtitles in English, Spanish, and French.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes a twenty minute featurette on the film’s influence, a seven minute piece on 3-D, and the film’s theatrical trailer.