Thursday, April 21, 2011

Dial M for Murder

My Rating: 9/10  

Em and I are getting very much into old film noir and Hitchcock movies thanks to Netflix streaming. They've got a great library of such films, even including the little known Vincent Price noir "Shock". Many of these are movies I have heard of over the years, but never seen, since my focus was always on monster movies instead. So, we recently watched "Shock" (Fun), "The Lady Vanishes" (Excellent after a slow start), and last night, "Dial M for Murder".

DMfM was absolutely terrific.  It's an amazing lesson in suspense, because it keeps you on the edge of your seat for the full runtime without ever having a single fistfight or car chase or explosion. It takes place nearly entirely in one room. If you're not familiar with it, a greedy husband plans to kill his unfaithful wife for her fortune. He is extremely intelligent and comes up with a seemingly perfect murder plan, laid out over the course of a year, but things start to go haywire when reality intervenes with his scheme and his wife's mystery-writing novelist lover gets involved. The whole thing was a classic illustration of the immortal line from "Body Heat" - "Counselor, in any crime there are a hundred ways to fuck up, and if you can think of 25 of those ways, you're a genius...and you ain't no genius."

The complexity of the mystery will give your brain a serious workout - It's akin to watching episodes of Ellery Queen in that you have to be constantly tracking different clues and how they fit together, on the fly, to keep pace with the plot. There are a few complaints on IMDB from people who totally lost it in the third act and I can see how this could happen if you're not accustomed to really having to use your brain during a film.

Awesome movie. Also, Ray Milland makes a fantastically evil villain, he of the X-Ray eyes. 

Suggested Accompaniment: A very good quality red wine and a very tangy Virginia tobacco blend, preferably in a classical pipe of post war vintage - Think 1950's Dunhill billiard and you've reached movie watching Nirvana.