Hitchcock


Dial M for Murder is one of my favorite Hitchcock’s movies. With a great cast consisting Grace Kelley, Ray Milland, and Robert Cummings. John Williams also stars as the chief inspector who

The opening credit music lulls you into a false sense of security. But it does not take long for a dark thread to become visible.

The scene is quite chilling as Tony tells his friend, Lesgate, one evening about how he found out about the affair and how he thought about killing her.  When Margot and Mark seemed to break it off, Tony gives the marriage another chance. But when the couple make out their wills and leave their possessions to each other, he changes his mind. He then reveals his plan to Lesgate and subsequently talks him into murdering Margot. The fact that he is blackmailing Lesgate makes the task easy.

There is no music during the scene in which Lesgate and Tony discuss their plans, but the music kicks in the moment Lesgate picks up the money Tony offered him and in essence commits to his part in the murderous plot.

Hitch inserts a little comedy into the following scene. Tony, Margot, and Mark are sitting around drinking before the men are to go out to a stag party. They are discussing if the “perfect murder” is possible. Soon after, Tony asks Margot for her key and sets his plan into motion.

But the night of the planned murder, things do not go as Tony had intended. Margot kills her attacker (Lesgate) instead. Tony at first scrambles, but then quickly sees a way to still get what he wants. He sets up Margot, making her look like she had a motive to kill Lesgate.

Tony evolves with his plan, but has a big slip-up in the end. The Chief Inspector is just as clever as Tony. He catches Tony red-handed and proves Margot’s innocence all in the same moment.

Hitch does a great job in playing out the key scenes. Each has the right amount of feeling, whether the scene needed suspense, chill, or uneasy laughter, such as the end of the Tony/Lesgate scene. Tony is almost comical in the way he calmly goes about the room wiping off Lesgate’s fingerprints while Lesgate looks on bewildered.

The way the camera zooms in on key props such as the house keys and even the telephone dialer is classic Hitch.

Milland gives a great performance as the diabolical husband. This Hitch thriller is a classic that can be enjoyed today even in comparison to many of today’s great mysteries.

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CountryGirl

Grace and Bing in The Country Girl

Still admired today for her beauty and dignity, Grace Kelly was born on this day, November 12, in 1929 in Philadelphia.

Grace wanted to act from a young age. She studied drama at New York’s America Academy of Dramatic Art. Before moving to Hollywood to pursue a film career, she worked as a stage actress and also a model.

After appearing in High Noon with Gary Cooper, she appeared in Mogambo alongside Clark Gable and Ava Gardner and earned Best Supporting Actress nomination. (This is one film that is now on my “must watch when able” list!)

Her work in High Noon garnered her the attention of director Alfred Hitchcock. He sought after her to be one of his leading ladies. Working with famed costume designer Edith Head, Hitchcock made Grace into his ideal blonde bombshell leading actress.

Grace worked with Hitchcock on three films, first Rear Window with Jimmy Stewart, then Dial M for Murder with Ray Milland, and then To Catch a Thief with Cary Grant. These three are some my favorite Hitch films and definitely deserve a viewing if you have never seen them.

Grace went a completely different avenue in The Country Girl. Starring with William Holden and Bing Crosby, she plays the wife of an alcoholic actor (Crosby) who starts to fall in love with the director (Holden) who is working with him. This movie is surprisingly good and viewers see both Grace and Bing Crosby in a very unusual type of movie for them. They both give great performances and after I did watch this film it became one of my favorites.

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Grace and William Holden attending the Oscars

Grace won the Best Actress Oscar in 1954 for The Country Girl beating out Judy Garland who was nominated for her comeback role in A Star is Born. Crosby was nominated for Best Actor but lost to Marlon Brando for On the Waterfront.

Later the two reunited in High Society which also starred Frank Sinatra. This film is the musical adaptation of The Philadelphia Story.

In 1956, Grace married Prince Rainier Grimaldi III of Monaco and effectively became “Princess Grace” of Monaco. She left her acting career behind for her family. She and her husband had 3 children, Carolina, Albert, and Stephanie. She passed away in 1982 after her car ran off the road in cliffs of Monaco.

Grace Kelly will always be remember for her timeless roles, beauty and fashion sense. Many books have been written about her lavish wedding and wedding gown.

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Grace on her wedding day

TornCurtainOk, I am finally getting  around to talking a little more about Torn Curtain. While most definitely not one of director Alfred Hitchcock’s best films, this movie still has a lot to offer.

The movie, a classic tale of suspicion and intrigue, is set during the Cold War, with the title referring to the Iron Curtain. It opens with Michael Armstrong (Paul Newman) and his fiancee/assistant Sarah Sherman (Julie Andrews) en route by cruise ship to a science conference  in Copenhagen.

Things seem to be going well until Armstrong starts acting suspciously. Sherman finds out he is going to East Berlin suddenly and decides to follow him there. He confronts her on the plane and tells her to go home and forget that she saw him. Sherman is not easily persuaded and insists on staying with him. He agrees with the condition that she stay out of the way and return to Copenhagen as soon as possible.

Things become even more suspicious when Armstrong is welcomed warmly at the East Berlin airport by German government officials. Sherman is convinced that her fiancee has defected to the East Germans.

But it soon becomes clear that Armstrong is only pretending to be loyal to the East in order to gain the confidence of chief scientist Gustav Lindt (Ludwing Donath). Lindt is key in the development of the Soviet’s missile program.

The story takes a tense turn when Armstrong is followed to the home of a fellow contact by a German security officer. Armstrong has to kill the officer and dispose of his body without coming under additional suspician by the police.

This scene is one of Hitchcock’s best; it is said that he wanted to show how difficult it really is to kill another person.

Armstrong is able to gain the trust of Lindt and is given the secret he was after.

But he and Sherman must then make an escape by a false bus that is also trying to get others to safety. They then make it to another contact within a traveling troupe that hides them in trunks on a ship bound for Sweden.

As in many of Hitchcock films, the director makes a cameo; he can be seen as a man holding a small child in the lobby of the hotel.

Hitchcock mixes the right amount of suspense, epionage and romance into this plot. Hopefully this is just the first of many Hitch films I will be able to discuss.

This was a very different turn for Andrews after just portraying Mary Poppins and the singing governess Maria. But I think she a great job in this unusual role.

As usual, Newman is fantastic and I would have liked to see him in an additional Hitch film. Although, Hitchcock himself seemed to prefer his old standbyes such as Jimmy Stewart and Cary Grant.

I guess I cannot blame him in those cases.

If you like a classic wartime thriller, this movie should definitely should be on your list. Torn-Curtain2