Stereoscopic thrills from the Master of Suspense.
DIRECTED BY ALFRED HITCHCOCK
Where Alfred Hitchcock’s Dial M for Murder is concerned, it turns out that they both do and don’t make ’em like they used to.
All the rage again post-Avatar, superfluous studio-mandated stereoscopic productions were also in vogue in 1953, when Warner Bros. first tapped Hitch to helm a 3D adaptation of Frederick Knott’s hit stage play. Hitchcock himself didn’t care for the technology, finding its effects gimmicky and the required cameras cumbersome, and Dial M was to be his only film shot in the format. Naturally, this new restoration is technically immaculate, but the 3D presentation is hardly the draw.
Rather, Dial M captivates as a resolutely old-school domestic thriller, set nearly entirely within the claustrophobic confines of an upscale London flat. A marvelous Ray Milland is a picture of debonair menace as a husband who hatches a near-perfect scheme to do away with his adulterous, well-to-do wife (Grace Kelly). When his plot suffers an inevitable setback, he’s forced into a series of ingeniously sinister improvisations, which Hitchcock plays for sly laughs as well as some finely wrought suspense. Dial M may be a relatively minor effort (particularly next to fellow 1954 release Rear Window), but the director’s mastery of mood remains delightfully apparent.