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Calgary Herald (30/Jan/1992) - Hitchcock is still the master



Hitchcock is still the master

DIAL M FOR MURDER (1954) Ray Milland, Grace Kelly, Robert Cummings.

That overwhelming scissor motif in last summer's popular thriller Dead Again was an obvious — painfully obvious — reference by director/actor Kenneth Branagh to Alfred Hitchcock.

Scissors were the murder weapon of choice in Hitchcock's 1954 movie Dial M for Murder. At the time, the director even said that "a murder without gleaming scissors is like asparagus without the Hollandaise sauce — tasteless."

Hitchcock, besides being film's master of suspense, was a master of good taste. Not for him the extravagant gore of contemporary movie killings. The roller coaster ride up to the event and back down again were what mesmerized him.

That's how it is with Dial M for Murder, in which dapper ne'er-do-well Tony (Ray Milland) meticulously plots the killing of his wealthy wife (Grace Kelly) and is forced to re-work the details when his plan backfires.

Tony's scheme is so intricate that it demands an extremely long scene in which he explains it to a crucial third party. The audience therefore knows what's supposed to happen. It sees what actually does happen. The suspense lies in how the police will possibly figure out that the devious Tony is behind the crime.

Hitchcock's inventive use of camera angles is readily apparent in this, his 39th movie, which was filmed in 3-D. But he knew how to keep his gimmicks tightly under control, making the rapid unravelling of the plot the star. If for nothing else, watch Dial M for Murder to discover where Kenneth Branagh's Dead Again — with its story-smothering trick upon trick — went wrong.