Dial M For Murder – Alfred Hitchcock
Though Hitchcock maintains the theatricality of the production by confining the action to one room, he uses close-ups to capture the terror on the actors’ faces which would be missed on stage. Changes in lighting, from the dimly lit attack scene to the symbolic illumination of the villain at the end, add to the atmosphere. Hitchcock’s use of color also helps set the mood. Margot is first dressed in lovely colors, she is wearing white when attacked, and as her plight becomes desperate she wears black.
Though most audiences saw Dial M for Murder in the traditional format, it was filmed in Naturalvision, Warner Bros.’ version of 3-D. The 3-D format was useful in this case, not for special effects, but for giving the film additional depth and intimacy within the confining set.
Hitchcock, always noted for his inconspicuous appearances in his films, has cleverly worked himself into a reunion picture which Tony shows to Lesgate during their interview.
The performances are generally good. John Williams and Anthony Dawson reenacted their Broadway roles. Williams is well cast as the Scotland Yard-type detective who enjoys unraveling clues. Dawson has made a career out of playing snakelike villain roles. Ray Milland is convincingly pathological as the venal Tony, and Grace Kelly is good at conveying bewilderment and terror. All in all, Hitchcock’s talent for creating suspense blends with Fred¬erick Knott’s well-crafted plot to provide an interesting and diverting mystery.