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It's neat to finally see the Grace Kelly thriller in 3D, but even the added dimension can't help Dial M For Murder be anything more than ho-hum Hitchcock at best...
Warner / 105 Minutes / 1954 / Rated PG / Street Date: October 9, 2012
Based on the hit stage play by Frederick Knott, Dial M for Murder would seem to be classic Hitchcock. Margot Wendice (Hitchcock favorite Grace Kelly) loves Mark Hallida (Robert Cummings); her husband Tony (Ray Milland) does not, and begins to plot her murder. But when he dials a Mayfair exchange to set the plot in motion, his right number gets the wrong answer - and gleaming scissors become a deadly weapon. Expect plenty of icy intrigue, dialogue laced with double meanings, and the typical bravura Hitchcock climax.
Yet despite having all the right elements and the radiant Kelly, Dial M for Murder feels like a lesser Hitchcock work. Even by his usual plotty standards, the film is excessively talky. the material's stage roots show through, and Hitch shows a surprising lack of creativity in opening up the milieu. Also a detriment is that none of the characters are especially interesting or likable, which can still make for a fun potboiler (witness the similar Sorry, Wrong Number, whose main protagonist is so annoying you want her to get offed), but even Milland fails to create a memorable villain. Worst of all, it takes what seems like two full acts for the suspense to kick in, and the climax is not a genuine nail-biter. Dial M for Murder lacks the usual punch of even average Hitchcock.
One of the primarily complaints leveled at Dial M for Murder upon its release was Hitchcock's minimal use of the 3D, which is finally replicated in scope on this 3D Blu-ray edition. His only film shot in the dimensional process, indeed there is little of the usual gags and gimmicks popping out at us from the screen (aside from a well-placed and much-famous pair of scissors during the climax). And to be perfectly straight about it, the 3D element doesn't add much at all to the experience of the movie, as often unconvincing as the film's drama can often be.
It's nice to see it spruced up for high-def - every film deserves that honor, I suppose - but there's no question that Dial M for Murder is one of Hitchcock's weaker efforts.