Dial H for Hitchcock.
1954 was certainly a great year for Hitchcock – his masterpiece Rear Window came out the same year. Margot (Grace Kelly), the wife of ex-tennis player Tony (Ray Milland) has been having an affair with crime-fiction writer, Mark (Robert Cummings). However, the couple are unaware of Tony’s knowledge of the affair. As a result, he plans to kill his wife, though refuses to do this himself. He gets hold of a man named Lesgate, an old college friend whom he hasn’t been in touch with for years. Lesgate is forced to agree through being blackmailed. But not everything goes to plan…
The writing is top-notch; there is never a moment when you’re not trying to guess what’s coming next. Dramatic irony is used very well. The cinematography is satisfactory; not something extraordinary, but still great nonetheless. Even though the murder plot is told to us in advance, Hitchcock drops sweet surprises in every scene. As an audience, we are invited to participate in playing the detective role in this film. It combines both theatre and film with an underlined posture. The real star here is Milland, who is the best sinister villain that you could hope for. Similar to Norman Bates, at parts, Hitchcock guides you to start rooting for Tony, even though he wants to get rid of his beautiful wife. John Williams, who plays Chief Inspector Hubbard does a great job also, taking on a stereotypical role with subtlety. Grace Kelly glides around with her usual high style, doing a great job, as always.
Ultimately, it’s not rated as high up on the list as some of Hitchcock’s masterpieces, but is still an excellent film. Comes to show that even his ‘lesser’ offerings are still highly watchable. Unfortunately, this was one of Hitchcock’s films that got the remake treatment…retitled A Perfect Murder, and it was utterly forgettable.