Earlier this week I posted my thoughts from 2010 about Avatar, the movie that was meant to bring in a new era of 3D movies. Whether Avatar achieved this is a blog post for another time as today I want to look at Dial M for Murder, Alfred Hitchcock‘s entry in 3D cinema. Yes Hitchcock did a 3D movie, although not entirely by choice – according to IMDB anyway. Despite this he really goes for it, but I’ll come back to that in a minute.

Dial M for Murder is an adaptation of Frederick Knott‘s own play which tells the story of Tony Wendice (Ray Milland) plotting to kill his wife Margot (Grace Kelly) after discovering she is having an affair with crime writer Mark Halliday (Robert Cummings).

However, the story is not that interesting compared to what Hitchcock, one of cinema’s greatest directors, did with 3D. The answer is mixed. As usual 3D doesn’t add anything as I often forgot I was watching a 3D movie. Beyond the famous scene of Grace Kelly‘s hand – see poster above – there is very little pointy 3D. Instead the 3D is all depth. The back walls of the Wendice flat feels further away than usual. Sadly this effect makes the movie feel like it was shot in a children’s cardboard theatre.

Considering the movie doesn’t move out with the Wendice’s flat four walls, except for a couple of street shoots, this effect means the movie doesn’t escape the film’s play roots. However, 3D was the reason Hitchcock shot the movie the way he did. Supposedly he constructed a trench in the set so the camera would get more 3D suitable angles that adds to the drama.

Sadly the script doesn’t. The whole plot relies on Margot doing exactly what her husband tells her to do and say. To me this is completely unrealistic even for the time the story was meant to be set. I don’t believe that a wife would follow her husband’s instructions so exactly, especially when being challenged by the police.

Also the ending feels a overly confused, complicated and circumstantial considering what is at stake especially when one of the characters is only hours away from execution.

If you can get over this issue then Dial M for Murder is good fun but definitely not Hitchcock‘s best work. I’d recommend watching Rear Window or Psycho if you are wanting to watch a Hitchcock.