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Broadcasting (05/May/1958) - Hallmark Hall of Fame



Hallmark Hall of Fame

By this time there must be only a handful of people who haven't — in one way or another — been exposed to Frederick Knott's masterful suspense drama "Dial 'M' For Murder." Conceived originally as a teleplay for the BBC, Mr. Knott's tightly-woven tale of intrigue next popped up as a Broadway play starring the irrepressible Maurice Evans, later was processed as an Alfred Hitchcock film starring Grace Kelly and Ray Milland, and last completed its cycle by returning to tv, again with Mr. Evans playing the lead role of Tony Wendice, one-time tennis player turned foul ball.

Luckily for Mr. Knott, Hallmark Cards Inc. — one of the most benevolent sponsors in tv's short history — allowed the play to run itself out in 90 minutes; many another advertiser might have insisted it be done in 30. After all, tv once did Macbeth in a halfhour.

The Hallmark version also marked repeat performances for Anthony Dawson, the hired would-be killer, and for John Williams, as the dry-witted and oft-sardonic Scotland Yard inspector who inevitably traps Mr. Wendice. Rosemary Harris shone beautifully as the potential victim of Mr. Wendice's bizarre plot.

Unfortunately, Mr. Evans, as he's wont to do from time to time, went completely overboard in his characterization of Tony Wendice; true, he created the part on Broadway, but perhaps there his penchant for Shavian histrionics didn't obscure the fact that Wendice was supposed to be a cold-blooded killer. Maybe it's that little red light on the camera. . . .

Production costs: Approximately $150,000.

Sponsored by Hallmark Cards Inc. through Foote, Cone & Belding on NBC-TV, Fri. April 25, 9:30-11 p.m.

Executive producer: Mildred Freed Alberg; a Milberg Production produced and directed by George Schaefer, written and adapted by Frederick Knott; costumes: Noel Taylor; scenery: Robert Whightman.

Cast: Maurice Evans, Rosemay Harris, John Williams, Anthony Dawson, William Windom, Felix Deebank and Richard Bowler.