April 17, 2009

Dial M for Murder

Title: Dial M for Murder
Year: 1954
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Writer: Frederick Knott, based on his play
Starring: Ray Milland, Grace Kelly, Robert Cummings
Music: Dimitri Tiomkin
Distinctions: currently #201 on IMDb's Top 250
Synopsis: a man's intricate plots to kill his wife
How I saw it: on video (rented from Netflix), August 2008
Subjective Rating: 5/10 (Indifferent).
Objective Rating: 6/10 (points off for story, characters, dialog and subjective rating) c. 2.8/4 (Good).

Very well filmed. So well filmed that most people don't seem to even notice the horrible quality of the writing. It's a great plot, but it's written with zero craft. Long monologues describing things that happened off stage/camera might be lazy storytelling for a play, but in a movie? Seriously? Hey, Alfred, you want to film a play? Then adapt it! The music isn't great, but it's used quite effectively in a few places. It's a watchable movie -- nowhere near as bad as Rope. Really, it's just the one point of being obviously and awkwardly not written for the screen that ruins it. I'd almost even say it's a good movie, but when there's a fault so glaring that could have been fixed with a little effort, I just can't bring myself to do it.

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