Home     Friday Night Movies      Contents      Photos      Links      Email   

A Perfectly Murderous Presentation
at Friday Night Movies:

Dial M for Murder

Friday the 14th of October
Pot luck supper @ 7pm
Movie @ 8pm



Do you really believe in the perfect murder?
--Margot Mary Wendice (Grace Kelly)

USA: 1954 -- Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Written by Frederick Knott
Starring Ray Milland, Grace Kelly, Robert Cummings, and John Anderson

I'm afraid my murders would be something like my bridge: I'd make some stupid mistake and never realize it until I found everybody was looking at me.
--Robert Cummings as Mark Halliday

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

Hope to see you there. I'll save you an aisle seat and a prepaid calling card.


Ranked #9 on the American Film Institute's list of the 10 greatest films in the genre "Mystery" in June 2008.

Won New York Film Critics Circle Awards for Best Actress (Grace Kelly), also for The Country Girl and Rear Window.

Won National Board of Review Award for Best Actress (Grace Kelly) and Best Supporting Actor (John Williams)

Nominated for Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures (Alfred Hitchcock)

More awards

Memorable Quotes

Tony Wendice: People don't commit murder on credit.

Mark Halliday: In stories things usually turn out the way the author wants them to; and in real life they don't... always.

Margot: Anyone would have realized he was dead. Just one look at those staring eyes...
Chief Insp. Hubbard: So you did see his face, after all.
Margot: I saw his eyes! I can't remember his face!

More quotes


Filmed in 3D, which explains the prevalence of low-angle shots with lamps and other objects between us and the cast members. There was only a brief original release in 3D, followed by a conventional, "flat" release; The New York Times review mentioned it opened with the "flat" release at the Paramount in New York. The 3D version was reissued in 1980.

Adapted from a Broadway play that opened at the Plymouth Theater in New York on October 29, 1952 and ran for 552 performances. In the original production, Maurice Evans played Tony Wendice. In this film, John Williams and Anthony Dawson recreate their stage roles of Chief Inspector Hubbard and Captain Lesgate. J. Pat O'Malley later replaced Williams as Hubbard.

During the attack scene according to the script, Grace Kelly was to get out of bed, put her robe on, and answer the phone when it rang. Grace Kelly contended that no woman, being at home, would put a robe on to answer the phone. Alfred Hitchcock agreed, and so the scene was shot with her in her nightgown.

More trivia


Revealing mistakes: Margot's press cuttings are clearly blank on one side; cut out of newspapers, they should have printing on both sides

Errors in geography: The inspector makes a phone call from the flat, supposedly in London. We hear a clearly American-accented voice on the other end say "operator". It should have been an English voice, saying (in the 1950s), "Number, please."

Continuity: Before Tony and Mark leave for the stag party, Tony walks to the window and closes the curtains while talking to Margot. After they argue over her going out, he walks back to the window, we see the curtains are open, and he closes them again.

More goofs