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.

Advertisements

In 1952 Stanley Kramer debuted Grace Kelly in his production of High Noon which also starred the great Gary Cooper. Cooper’s career had slowed a bit until his dramatic turn as Marshal Kane.

High Noon depicts bright Sunday morning that is interrupted by a gang of mercenaries who coming riding into town.

Instead of riding off with his new bride Amy (Kelly), Marshal Kane stays behind to defend the town  until the new marshal arrives.

Kane defends a town of cowards from Frank Miller who has come back to challenge him. After outright asking for deputies in the local watering hole, Kane finds that much of the town is reluctant to help him. Even his current deputy Harvey (Lloyd Bridges) quits on him.

Ben Miller had already arrived in town, and his brother Frank, who Kane had arrested before, was scheduled to arrive in town at, you guessed it, high noon.

Bridges gives a great performance as the tortured deputy and friend of Kane. He is threatened by Kane and is angry that he didn’t fight for him to be the new marshal. Harvey’s anger finally boils over and they fight in the stables as Harvey tries to get Kane to leave.

The story comes to a climax as the whole town waits for the clock to strike 12. The director and producers of High Noon did a great job of laying on the tension with dramatic closeups of the main characters.

And then you hear the train whistle. Frank Miller departs from the train.

Amy and Helen Ramirez, who was a previous lover to Kane and Frank Miller, board the now outgoing train to safety.

Kane walks down the street to face the men alone. When Amy hears shots being fired she gets off the train just before it leaves the station. She sees a dead man lying the in street but is relieved to see it is not her husband. She ends up joining the fight, shooting one of the gang members herself. But Miller then uses her to lure Kane out in the street. Thinking quickly, she distracts Miller and Kane is able to kill him.

The embrace of the still-very-newlyweds is touching. Before climbing in the wagon to leave the town for good, Kane takes off his star and throws it in the dirt at the feet of the ungrateful townspeople who had gathered.

I was fortunate enough to also watch additional commentary on High Noon with Leonard Maltin. Maltin describes High Noon as a morality play that just happens to be a western.

For any Western genre fan this is a must. It may seem a bit slow at first, but stick with it. It only gets better as the story develops.

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.

Grace2

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.

grace

Grace on her wedding day