September 22, 2014 | Rome, Italy | Clear 20°C
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Comedy-Romantic Comedy

The One I Love

Charlie McDowel's disjointed "dramedy" gets little from both comedy and the supernatural.

Drama

Party Girl

Three French directors give a middle-aged reveler a new look on life.

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To Catch a Thief

Cary Grant and ravishing Grace Kelly make the French Riviera a place to remember.

Science Fiction

Chronicle

Josh Trank's cautionary tale about superpowered-adolescence is sneaky smart.

Transcendence

Artificial Intelligence deserves better than Wally Pfister's hackneyed silliness.

Coherence

A close-by comet causes all manner of human unsettling in the mind of James Ward Byrkit.

Under the Skin

Jonathan Glazer strays far afield of a bizarre novel and ends up getting lost.

The Zero Theorem

When Terry Gilliam strikes out you can hear the sound waves a galaxy away.

Fantasy

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Good intentions don't save Wes Anderson's latest from a kind of historical identity crisis.

Sleep Dealer

Mexican Alex Rodriguez's 2008 B-movie touched on some prescient notions.




Date: 1954
Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
Starring: Ray Milland, Grace Kelly, Robert Cummings, John Williams

Dial M for Murder

A husband who knows his wealthy wife has had an affair enlists a con man to kill her. The uncomplicated premise is all the fuel Hitchcock needs to construct a textbook crime-gone-wrong thriller. Thanks, that is, to masterful pacing and a deft performance from Ray Milland as a greedy, cuckolded husband.

Milland is Tony Wendice, a former tennis pro who's packed it in to live a comfortable London life with his rich, doe-eyed wife Margot (Grace Kelly). When he finds love letters between Margot and American mystery writer Mark Halliday (Robert Cummings), and knows Mark is visiting London, he hires an outsider to follow through with a murder plan whose success depends on a series of chess moves. As most mystery writers know, visiting Mark included, the perfect murder is perfect until the unforeseen interferes. And that happens here. Margot stabs and kills her assailant.

Controlling, shifty-eyed Tony tries covering his tracks, which is when the film, from Fredrick Knott successful play (and screenplay), acquires its wry theatrical elegance. As a chief inspector Hubbard (John Williams) peels layers from the onion, the trail appears to lead to unfaithful Margot. The botched murder suddenly seems on the verge of turning into the perfect frame job. But managing the last few details are the hardest, particularly as Mark grows suspicious and Hubbard starts following the money.

Villainy has rarely gotten a more suavely accomplished face than the one Milland puts to Wendice, a husband above reproach until the many walls of blackmail come tumbling down. The final scene is old school to the core, reminiscent of the World War I days when shot-down pilots saluted their conquerors as their planes began their downward nosedive.

Reviewed by: Marcia Yarrow
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