Dial M for Murder

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Hitchcock (1954)

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Movie Review - Cast & Crew - Dvd Features - Dvd Technical Details - Buy Dvd - Dial M for Murder Repro. Film Posters


  • Dvd Release Date: 01-08-2008
  • Region: 2 (UK & Europe)
  • Number of Discs: 1

  • Catalogue Number: D011156
  • Studio: Warner Bros

Filmed in Hollywood, it has a definate Hollywood feel to its Maida Vale setting - the colours are just too sumptious to be anywhere in London.

Alfred Hitchcock only took on this version of Frederick Knott's play to fulfil his Warner's contract, and such was his lack of interest in the project that he claimed he could have phoned in his direction and that the action wouldn't have been any less interesting if he had staged it in a phone box. But as Ray Milland plots to bump off wife Grace Kelly there are plenty of deft touches that loudly proclaim "genius at work".

Milland's sinister sophistication catches the eye, but Kelly's subtly shaded suffering is superb. Cummings, who was "Mr Wooden" through much of his career, is, er, wooden in this as Kelly's lover, and has a rather fruitless part in the resolution of the melodramatics.

Hitch holds our attention throughout, a feat even more remarkable when you consider that much of the film is filmed in the one room. It has the feel of the stage play but Hitch makes it work to his advantage on the big screen. If I suggest that there are very few directors before or after him who could have done the same then I don't think I would get many arguments..

Filmed in Hollywood, it has a definate Hollywood feel to its Maida Vale setting - the colours are just too sumptious to be anywhere in London, but that adds to the charm of the piece.

Remade with Michael Douglas and Gwyneth Paltrow in 1998 as A Perfect Murder.


Dial M for Murder was filmed and briefly released in 3-D and if you look carefully, you will notice that the finger dialling 'M' in the murder sequence is actually a huge wooden replica. It seems that the 3-D process didn't work when the camera focused in on small details, so Hitch had a massive telephone and finger built (similar to the hand he constructed for Spellbound) to ensure that this important shot worked as effectively as possible. The movie was quickly released in a conventional, 'flat' version as the fad for 3-D ran its course. Dial M was reissued in 3-D in 1980 during a resurgence of interest in the gimmick, and fans can still see the attempted murder sequence in 3-D today, at the Alfred Hitchcock attraction at Universal Studios' Theme Park in Florida.

The 'M' that Tony dials refers to Maida Vale in North London, where the Wendices' apartment is located: in the '50s, different parts of London could be telephoned by prefixing the individual number with a code letter - in this case, 'M'.

Filmed at Warner Brothers Burbank Studios - 4000 Warner Boulevard Burbank California USA

Patrick Allen (Pearson) is best known as a voice-over artist, most notably for the famous Barratt Homes adverts that saw him swooping into housing estates in a helicopter. Guy Doleman (a detective) was the first of many Number 2s in the classic '60s TV show The Prisoners.

Grace Kelly felt that her working relationship with the costume designer, Edith Head, was a particularly successful partnership. She it was who convinced Hitchcock that Margot would get up to answer the telephone wearing only her nightdress, rather than the heavy velvet robe he had suggested.

The friendship between Grace Kelly and Hitchcock lasted until his death in 1980. She died in a tragic car accident two years later.

The region free blu ray 3d was released in the UK in 2012 by Warner Home Video. It is a must see. (Direct link: amazon.co.uk . The cover here is interesting as it's so different from the Dvd and other releases of the title. Doesn't really work and I would say it's the weakest part of the release. The actual Blu ray 3d, now that is worth watching.

Where is the cameo?: It's when Tony shows the old reunion photo. Hitch can be seen seated on the left-hand side of the picture.

Best line: Inspector Hubbard, to Mark: 'They talk about flat-footed policemen ... may the saints preserve us from the gifted amateur!'

Allegedly, Hitchcock spent a quarter of the shooting time on Swan's attack on Margot and the killing.

Cummings had earlier appeared in Hitch's Saboteur.

Poster text: 'If a woman answers ... hang on for dear life!'/'It holds you spellbound with suspense'/'Murder calling in 3D! The most famous Alfred Hitchcock movie of all time!' (1978 rerelease). Invariably, whatever the release, be it poster, dvd or video, it shows a variation on the same artwork, the blonde woman with one arm outstreched as a man attacks her and a telephone receiver dangles from the table. See what I mean here by viewing a variation of posters. Yes there are other designs and artwork but it is this one that now stays in the mind's eye.

At the time, The Times gave it a mixed review.

Once again, Hitch decided to make a film of a play, in this case Frederick Knott's highly successful Dial M for Murder, which had been a massive hit in both London and New York in 1952.

Kelly as the wife was over 20 years younger than both her on-screen husband (Milland) and lover (Cummings).

Ages at the time of the release of the movie were:

  • Ray Milland: 47 years old
  • Grace Kelly: 25 years old
  • Robert Cummings: 46 years old

    The age gap was even more between Michael Douglas and Gwyneth Paltrow in the remake A Perfect Murder in 1998. Douglas was about 104 at the time so it must have been nearly 80s years! Joke. It was actually 28 years; something Paltrow commented on during the promotion of the movie and something which did not go down too well with Michael 'The Ego Has Landed' Douglas.

    Remade for television in 1981, starring Angie Dickinson and Christopher Plummer.

    Remade in India as Aitbaar in 1985. A Perfect Murder is based more closely to the original stage play than Dial M for Murder.

    Anthony Dawson (Swan Lesgate) played James Bond's sinister opponent Blofeld un two uncredited appearances in From Russia With Love (1963) and Thunderball (1965).

    John Williams also appeared in Hitch's The Paradine Case and To Catch a Thief as well as several episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

    This is the first of three appearances Grace Kelly did for Hitchcock.

    In real life, Kelly and Milland were having an affair at the time. You know the story: boy pursues girl, boy promises girl his wife doesn't understand him and that the marriage is over, boy lies, girl realises, affair over.

    Probaly just me, but I think the best time to view this movie is around midnight, in the dead of night. In that silence and dozying over to sleep, you can almost be transported back to that time when Grace Kelly was in her prime, Milland was sporting the mother of all toupees and Cummings was being, er, Cummings. But you can almost feel yourself being bathed in those unreal, bright colours which for many of us are how we think of the 1950s thanks to film. Oh and sit in that room with the gorgeous furniture and the antiquated room. Somehow seems perfect, well, until the killing starts.

    Personally, I can count one-degree of seperation to Grace Kelly. That 'degree' is Patrick Allen. I met him as a kid in the 1970s when he would swoon in on an area in a helicopter for his Barratt promotion, sign some autographs, talk a bit and then leave.

    Source: The ultimate book on the films of Hitchcock: Complete Hitchcock

  • Actors:

  • Dir/Prod:
  • Scr:
      Frederick Knott, from his play
  • Ph:
      Robert Burks
  • Ed:
      Rudi Fehr
  • Mus:
      Dimitri Tiomkin
  • Art Dir:
      Edward Carrere


    Dvd Features

      Original theatrical trailer
      'Hitchcock And Dial M' - 20 minute featurette
      '3D: A Brief History' - 7 minutes

    Technical Details

      Languages: English (French and Italian dubbed audio-tracks on the disc too)
      Subtitles: English, French, Italian, Dutch and Arabic
      Format: PAL, Colour, Widescreen, Mono
      Region: Region 2 (UK & Europe)
      Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.85:1

    The 2nd scan of the back cover below will give you confirmation of what exactly is on this Dvd (special features, subtitles etc.). Click on it for a bigger scan.

    D V D

    Dial M for Murder UK Dvd Dial M for Murder UK Dvd Dial M for Murder UK Dvd Dial M for Murder UK Dvd Dial M for Murder UK Dvd Dial M for Murder UK Dvd Dial M for Murder UK Dvd

    Price: 5.99 UK Sterling
    (Shipped from UK) (Price includes UK postage & packaging only. Outside UK here)

    Nov. 2016: back in stock. These are all 'used - very good'. There are two releases of this which share the same ISBN number (7321900111560). Both have the same front cover but on the back cover one has a black background on the bottom half whilst the other has a white background (check the differences on the above photos). That 's the only difference. They are exactly the same release but the white one was originally released as one of the Dvd releases in the old Hitchcock Signature Collection boxset releases when the released them in normal jewel case releases inside the box (latter ones were released in slimline ones).

    Both have exactly the same subtitles, languages, special features, aspect ratio etc.. Thought I would just point it out as for completists this info is important if for nobody else.

    I'm a Hitchcock completist!

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    Price: $19.99 US Dollars.
    (Shipped from UK) (Price includes Outside UK Air Mail postage & packaging only.

    This is a Region 2 UK & Europe Dvd and will probaly not work on a US Dvd player. It should work on an Australian one but wherever you are outside Europe please check your Dvd player can play Region 2 Dvds.

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    Also available as part of the Hitchcock Dvd Collection

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  • ALFRED HITCHCOCK:  poster film index


  • REAR WINDOW:  movie review

  • REAR WINDOW:  gallery

  • JAMES STEWART:  biog.

  • GRACE KELLY:  biog.


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