Dial M For Murder, directed by Sir Alfred Hitchcock, starring Ray Milland and Grace Kelly, 1956.
At one time the great mystery movie director, Sir Alfred Hitchcock, was one of my favorite directors. Not that I was ever a big fan of the whodunit, “puzzle it out”, Agatha Christie-influenced part of the genre that he tended to use in his film work. I was always more of a Raymond Chandler/ Phillip Marlowe swaggering detective “chasing after windmills” mystery guy. But visually, most of Alfred Hitchcock’s work always left me gasping for breath until the end, even in those productions like the one under review here, “Dial M For Murder", where the murder plot is laid out for you in advance and all you have to do is figure the key to the slip up that will bring the villain low.
The villain in this case is ne’er do well, man about town Ray, Milland who finds out, mistakenly, that his meal ticket trophy wife, Grace Kelly, is in love with another man. Well, to keep the gravy train going the suave Mr. Milland will do anything, literally anything, to keep his status intact. Naturally he decides, smart guy that he is, to commit the perfect murder, the murder of said beautiful wife. And the plot moves on from there, I need not tell more.
Except this. Why on this good, green earth would anyone other a stone crazy, craven maniac want to touch even one hair on the lovely Grace Kelly’s head? Whatever benighted justice falls on the head of this villainous sort is too good for them. And that is what this film really boils done to (other that the ordinary, every day propositions that “crime does not pay” and that there are no “perfect” crimes) for me. Now in this film Grace Kelly is not as fetching as in other Hitchcock vehicles like “Rear Window” and “To Catch A Thief” but I will not quibble over her stage presence on this one. I would just note here, as I have in reviewing other works in which Ms. Kelly starred, that according to the gossip her real life husband, Prince Rainer, a man not given to open displays of sentiment, wept openly at her death. And now I know why.