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Dial M for Murder

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Dial M for Murder, starring Ray Milland, Grace Kelly, Robert Cummings
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Dial M for Murder (1954), starring Ray Milland, Grace Kelly, Robert Cummings, by Alfred Hitchcock

Synopsis of Dial M for Murder

When playboy tennis pro Tony Wendice discovers his rich wife, Margot is having an affair with handsome American Mark Hallidy, he devises an ingenious plot to murder her. But when his scheme takes an unexpected, deadly twist, Tony improvises–implicating Margot for first degree murder in this classic spellbinder. Dial M for Murder

Cast of characters

  • Tony Wendice (Ray Milland, The Lost Weekend). The professional tennis player, married to a young, beautiful, rich — and unfaithful — wife. He decides to murder her; both for revenge and money.
  • Margot Wendice (Grace Kelly, High Society). The wealthy,, beautiful socialite who had a brief affair while her husband was on a tennis tour. She broke it off, and is trying to give her marriage a second chance. But someone’s stolen one of the adulterous couple’s love letters … and is attempting to blackmail her.
  • Mark Halliday (Bob Cummings, What a Way to Go). The American writer who had a brief affair with Margot. A writer of murder mysteries, curiously enough, finds himself in one. Can he prove Margot innocent of murder?
  • Charles Swann (Anthony Dawson, Dr. No). Tony’s old school “friend” — whom Tony blackmails into murdering Tony’s wife. Not a likable character, but still somewhat sympathetic. He’s not eager to commit murder, but doesn’t see any alternative. Until Margot successfully defends herself, and kills him. And Tony then improvises the idea of framing Margot for a premeditated murder of her “blackmailer”.
  • Chief Inspector Hubbard (John Williams, Sabrina). In many ways, the hero of the story. The intelligent, determined, police officer who digs for the truth piece by piece.

Review of Dial M for Murder

Anthony Dawson about to attempt the murder of Grace Kelly in Dial M for Murder

First of all, let me say that the acting is very well done. All of the actors are doing a fine job, and are at the top of their game. Likewise the settings look real, the cinematography is good, etc. It’s a well-done Alfred Hitchcock murder mystery.

The only negative that I have is that is was filmed in 3D … and on occasion, it shows. But that’s a very minor complaint. I enjoyed Dial M for Murder, especially Ray Milland’s performance, and recommend it.

Editorial review of Dial M for Murder courtesy of

A suave tennis player (Ray Milland) plots the perfect murder, the dispatching of his wealthy wife (Grace Kelly), who is having an affair with a writer (Robert Cummings). Amazingly, the wife manages to stave off her attacker, a twist of fate that challenges the hubby’s talent for improvisation. Alfred Hitchcock wisely stuck to the stage origins of Dial M for Murder, ignoring the temptation to “open up” the material from the home of the unhappy couple. The result may not be one of Hitchcock’s deepest films, but it’s a thoroughly engaging chamber movie.

It also features Grace Kelly at her loveliest, the same year she made Rear Window with Hitchcock. Dial M for Murder was filmed in the briefly trendy 3-D process, and Hitchcock shot some scenes to bring out the depth of the 3-D field; it’s especially good for the nail-biting attempted murder of Kelly, and her desperate reach for a pair of scissors that seems to be just outside her grasp. However, the film was rarely shown with the proper 3-D projection, going out “flat” instead (a 1980 reissue restored the process for a limited theatrical release). Dial M was remade in 1998 as A Perfect Murder, a film that changed and expanded the material, with no improvement on the clean, witty original. –Robert Horton

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