Tuesday, September 27, 2005

"Dial M for Murder" by Alfred Hitchcock

Not being a whodunit genre fan, as the first scene of the movie barely started I said to myself, rather smugly, "Oh, I know what's gonna happen next." So much for my cineaste cockiness. Hitchcock spiced this 1954 production with so many twists and turns that I slurped up this bowl of "how to do a perfect crime" noodle with greed. Throughout the movie, I could feel Mr. Hitchcock winking at us at every dissolve, every fadeout, every scene transition.

Oddly, for a self-proclaimed student of cinema, I was viewing this movie for the first time, and the brilliance of Hitchcock shone through the fading color photography. The basic ingredients of "Dial M for Murder" are simple -- upset that his wife is cheating on him, a proper British gentleman tries to commit a "perfect murder". Hitchcock, however, was not about to spin an easy yarn -- one new character after another starts to appear in the film unexpectedly, taking us in a new direction each time. It is utterly breathtaking. If not for the fact that I was viewing it on a DVD player and could pause it at any time, I would be cross-eyed exhausted at the end.

Amazingly, this picture was done first as a 3D movie -- a piece of trivia I discovered on imdb.com. The photography does look kind of strange, and even now I cannot understand why they would film it in 3D, as the movie is basically a rather stagy talking-head piece and completely lacks 3D-worthy actions like, for instance, spears flying out of the screen. Nevertheless, it is a Hitchcock film, and I suppose the master could do whatever he darn well pleased.

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