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16 minutes ago, Ray Banacki said:

Michael Caine wants his wife's money and a young husband.

Yes...see now that is a "proper" motive for murder.

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9 hours ago, TopBilled said:

They do not quite rank up there for me like TO CATCH A THIEF and NORTH BY NORTHWEST do in the Hitchcock canon.

I would've  gone for VERTIGO and REAR WINDOW ...though there is that PSYCHO  ...

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From what I understand, the biggest "misstep" by Hitchcock was his attempt at the "Screwball" comedy genre with MR. And MRS> SMITH('41)  which I thought wasn't all that bad, but too, not all that great.  

And what's with Hitch and tennis players?   STRANGERS ON A TRAIN concerns the problems encountered by a tennis pro and a murderous psychopath.  And in "Dial M" Ray Milland's character is a retired tennis pro.  And since the character was a RETIRED tennis pro, I don't see Milland's age as a problem.  Now, would a wealthy socialite as gorgeous as Grace Kelly really be attracted to an aging has-been tennis player?  Well, sure.  One with "daddy issues".  or if he was a man long admired by the socialite.  Like, my wife once said she didn't care HOW MUCH older CLARK GABLE was than her(40 years) she'd have had no problem heading to a justice of the peace with him.  "But only...."  she said, "Because Warren William was already dead."  ;)   But, she was referring to when she was 19, and Gable wasn't yet dead.

But still, my biggest problem with "Dial M" is how easily Swann was talked into committing murder.  Personally, I'd have taken my chances with first agreeing to it, but then behind Milland's back going to the police and spilling the whole caper.  After all, who had the most to lose?

Sepiatone

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23 hours ago, Sepiatone said:

And what's with Hitch and tennis players?   STRANGERS ON A TRAIN concerns the problems encountered by a tennis pro and a murderous psychopath.  And in "Dial M" Ray Milland's character is a retired tennis pro. 

I wondered about this too. Maybe Hitch was a tennis player wannabe, maybe Patricia was a tennis nut. She is still alive BTW  and in her nineties, somebody should ask her, lol.

BTW in the novel Guy was an architect, nothing to do with tennis.  

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For many years tennis was seen as an elite activity, something only rich people did, and even more specifically the idle rich. In a story, it meant to imply the types of characters in the story, either the leisured rich who had time enough to engage in such "empty activity", or those who taught the rich how to play or improve their game, and therefore found their way into elite circles. The former were often portrayed as decadent, while the latter were schemers and scoundrels.

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1 hour ago, LawrenceA said:

For many years tennis was seen as an elite activity, something only rich people did, and even more specifically the idle rich. In a story, it meant to imply the types of characters in the story, either the leisured rich who had time enough to engage in such "empty activity", or those who taught the rich how to play or improve their game, and therefore found their way into elite circles. The former were often portrayed as decadent, while the latter were schemers and scoundrels.

I always wondered how in Strangers,  Guy became a pro tennis player since he didn't appear to come from wealth (based on his wife who appeared to be from the middle if not lower class) and as you note tennis during that era was mainly for the rich.     Now I see that Joe says that in the book Guy was an  architect.      That makes more sense to me as a profession for someone like Guy but I can understand why Hitch changed this.       The scene where Guy needs to leave wouldn't be the same with two architects swapping drawings back and forth!

But now I wonder how in the book a working-class architect got into a high-class circle where he ended up meeting a Senator's daughter  (unless this is another plot switch). 

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On 3/22/2020 at 5:22 PM, TopBilled said:

It feels too much like a stage play instead of a movie. It's similar to ROPE, in that it's a little too confined to one particular living room set. I know Hitchcock tries to open it up a bit and include some exterior stuff, but it doesn't quite work for me. And much of the dialogue, particularly by Ray Milland's character, seems stilted. It's not surprising that when it was remade in the 80s with Angie Dickinson, it was done for television. It's okay as a telefilm. But not as a major motion picture. It's just not even close to things like TO CATCH A THIEF or NORTH BY NORTHWEST.

With ROPE I remain a bit more engaged, because I am curious about the director's gimmicks using the long takes. But here, I find very little to keep me engaged. Except for the murder itself. After Grace Kelly stabs the intruder with the scissors it becomes way too talky again. And it takes too long to get to the part where they set Milland up with the key.

I also think that while Bob Cummings is a charming actor, he's out of place in this sort of material. He feels very miscast to me. I know Hitch had worked with him earlier on SABOTEUR, but that story played to Cummings' weaknesses as a serious dramatic actor. Here he's supposed to be much steadier, as the romantic 'savior' for Kelly at the end.

Something like SUDDEN FEAR is much more effective...with Joan Crawford as the woman in peril, Jack Palance as the young villainous husband, Bruce Bennett as the steady pal, and Gloria Grahame as the femme fatale. That's another thing. There's no femme fatale in DIAL M FOR MURDER. The husband should have had a co-conspirator, a stronger reason for wanting to getting rid of the wife.

Dial B for boredom.

While I agree that Dial M for Murder is too obviously based on a play, too confined to mostly one setting, and not opened up enough -- all defects of this film--it's still interesting enough, plot-wise, to hold my attention.  

What I do have a bit of a problem with (and this would apply to the story whether it's done as a play or a movie) is, we don't get enough information about either Tony or Margot Wendice and what their marriage was like before any of the problems with it started emerging.  Were they ever in love, was it ever a happy marriage?  Why was Margot  so open to having an affair when she met Mark Halliday?  This happens off-screen, before the film even begins.  It seems to have something to do with Tony's professional tennis-playing; apparently she didn't like him going away to tennis matches.  But why?  Why would she not go with him or at the very least, be proud of his abilities as a tennis player and support him in his professional tennis career??  Without more from Margot's point of view on this, we get a somewhat unsympathetic impression of her. Yes, she's the protagonist, and of course we sympathize with her over her scheming homicidal husband.  But she definitely does not come across as blameless in the disintegration of their marriage.

I kind of like DMFM because I like Ray Milland; still, it's a bit off-putting to see this usually likable actor who almost always plays the "good guy" portraying such a conniving nasty type.  Oh well...

And yes,  I can see the comparisons with Sudden Fear, and I do concur that that movie treats that kind of plot-line more effectively.

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On 3/25/2020 at 10:41 PM, TopBilled said:

Interesting theory. But I actually find Stewart kind of bland in ROPE. Granger and Dall are much more interesting. Plus I think Stewart is kind of upstaged by the character actors-- Cedric Hardwick and Constance Collier. 

Jimmy's role should have been played by a more sexually ambiguous actor. Someone who had a bit more heat and chemistry with the two bad boys. So that while he was trying to help them, he was also kind of getting off on the crime with them. That's really how the movie should have been presented.

My choice for Jimmy's role would have been Gregory Peck, whom I feel is quietly bisexual in most of his movies. Peck would have brought dignity, depth and intelligence to it. But we also would have felt some energy and spark in his scenes with the two attractive killers. That's what this needed, more than Hitch's long-take gimmickry.

By the way I think ROPE is a title better suited to a western. Especially a spaghetti western. It sounds like a movie about a lynching or a hanging. 

Looks like I'm "stalking" you and going out of my way to disagree with you today, but that's not my intention.  I just happen to disagree again !

While it's clear that the two young partners-in-crime are gay, and that definitely adds to the atmosphere and dynamic of the story,  I don't see any reason why the professor they want to impress with their evil deed should also be gay.  Since he is actually appalled and horrified when he finds out what they've done, I don't see how his being gay as well and therefore having some "heat and chemistry" with them would add in any way to the movie, in fact, I think it would detract from the whole point of it.  These nasty misguided young men  (especially Dall's character) think their philosophy professor will be impressed   with the terrible thing they've done;  the fact that he's shocked and disgusted, and also angry with himself for in some way, even unintentionally, planting the idea in their heads,   would not work as well if he were somehow titillated by their murder.

Also.. Gregory Peck seems bisexual to you?  Really?  Wouldn't have thought of that.  Although he does often come across as sexless. In fact, he seems more Asexual than Bisexual.  

But anyway, I love James Stewart and I think he's excellent as the wicked young men's professor.

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On 3/27/2020 at 2:07 PM, TopBilled said:

I wouldn't kill anyone as gorgeous as Grace Kelly. And I don't know anyone else who would either.

 

So, if someone's gorgeous, that and that alone would spare them from husband having homicidal intentions?   Remember,  Tony makes it clear that Margot did not support his tennis-playing, she seemed uninterested in him, she started having an affair, and she had an independent income.  Also, for all her undeniable beauty, I've always thought Grace Kelly came across as a bit antiseptic; her beauty is kind of wax-like.  She's beautiful, but she's also kind of cold, and definitely not sexy.  (Lots of less flawlessly beautiful actresses have been sexier than Grace.)   So, if Grace's character were plainer,  Milland's plot to murder her would be more understandable?    Physical beauty should not be the main reason why someone's life is spared.  

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11 minutes ago, misswonderly3 said:

Also.. Gregory Peck seems bisexual to you?  Really?  Wouldn't have thought of that.  Although he does often come across as sexless. In fact, he seems more Asexual than Bisexual.  

Well he did say "quietly bisexual" which one could say is close to asexual.       Anyhow until I read that post I never even though about that but now that I do I think I agree;   In so many films Peck's screen persona  is so mellow \ calm \ gentle and I realize that creates little sexual tension.    E.g.   In Roman Holiday.      Take the early scene where the Princess wakes up in a strange man's room.       The sexual tension is low.   The Princess has nothing to fear from this type of man (and the audience can relax as well).    Even as the plot moves along the relationship plays out like a brother and sister (and in the end Peck protects her just like a brother).       Replace Peck with,  say,  Gable in his prime,  and the sexual tension would have been much,  much higher.

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1 hour ago, LawrenceA said:

For many years tennis was seen as an elite activity, something only rich people did, and even more specifically the idle rich. In a story, it meant to imply the types of characters in the story, either the leisured rich who had time enough to engage in such "empty activity", or those who taught the rich how to play or improve their game, and therefore found their way into elite circles. The former were often portrayed as decadent, while the latter were schemers and scoundrels.

Interesting.  There's a very good Woody Allen film,  Matchpoint, which examines this very situation.  There's a young good-looking skilled tennis-player who gives tennis lessons to a rich family; there's his interest in using his tennis teaching skills  (plus his good looks) to befriend this family and benefit financially from his connection with them; and there's a crime....    

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