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Dial M for Murder
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that while the movie is a typical Alfred Hitchcock thriller which carefully builds suspense, the action itself is restricted to one violent struggle in which there is an attempted strangulation and the victim uses a pair of scissors to defend herself. The rest of the film takes place almost entirely in an apartment in which characters intricately plan, bargain, bluff, blackmail, spar, and attempt to outwit one another. Two leading characters are revealed to have been adulterous lovers for several years. Set in 1954, alcohol is offered at the beginning of almost every scene as a form of hospitality and friendship. Most people smoke: cigarettes, a cigar, a pipe. Other than young film buffs, there's not much that would appeal to kids here.
- Parents say
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What's the story?
Wily, dilettante tennis pro Tony Wendice (Ray Milland) is aware that his wife Margot (Grace Kelly) is in love with an American writer (Robert Cummings). Dependent upon her money and fearful that she'll leave him, Tony spends months planning the "perfect crime" and blackmails an old college classmate into carrying out Margot's murder. When things go awry, the diabolical Tony comes up with another brilliant way to get rid of Margot. Only the presence of an equally clever London police detective threatens to stop Tony from having his way.
Is it any good?
While not in the pantheon of Hitchcock's greatest achievements, DIAL M FOR MURDER is still considered a classic by many. Its intricate plotting, carefully built tension, and the scheming nature of its debonair would-be murderer keep the talky film moving despite its singular, interior setting.
This is the first Hitchcock-Kelly pairing and the film is credited with making her a star. Curiously, Warner Bros. insisted that the film be produced in 3D, though it was never widely released that way. The film will appeal mostly to Hitchcock fans and old-fashioned "drawing room" mystery lovers.
Talk to your kids about ...
With scenes almost entirely in one room and based mostly on dialogue, how did Hitchcock build the suspense in this movie? Was it effective?
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