In London, wealthy Margot Mary Wendice had a brief love affair with the American writer Mark Halliday while her husband and professional tennis player Tony Wendice was on a tennis tour. Tony quits playing to dedicate to his wife and finds a regular job. She decides to give him a second chance for their marriage. When Mark arrives from America to visit the couple, Margot tells him that she had destroyed all his letters but one that was stolen. Subsequently she was blackmailed, but she had never retrieved the stolen letter. Tony arrives home, claims that he needs to work and asks Margot to go with Mark to the theater. Meanwhile Tony calls Captain Lesgate (aka Charles Alexander Swann who studied with him at college) and blackmails him to murder his wife, so that he can inherit her fortune. But there is no perfect crime, and things do not work as planned. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Warner Brothers insisted on shooting the movie in 3-D although the craze was fading and Alfred Hitchcock was sure the movie would be released flat. The director wanted the first shot to be that of a close-up of a finger dialing the letter M on a rotary dial telephone, but the 3-D camera would not be able to focus such a close-up correctly. Hitchcock ordered a giant finger made from wood with a proportionally large dial built in order to achieve the effect. See more »
During the trial the date of the murder is clearly stated as September 26th, but when looking at Tony's checkbook, Halliday says that March 26th was "the day before all this happened" and that Tony has been living on the cash in the briefcase "since the 27th of March". See more »
What gets me about this film every time I see it is just how simple it is. The witty urbanity of the dialogue goes without saying (hem), the acting is stagily impeccable, and the direction by Hitchcock is limited by the small sets but masterful for all that.
Cold Ray Milland plans and sets up the murder of his demure but faithless wife Grace Kelly by a virtual stranger who is urged on by the stick of exposure of his misdeeds and the carrot of GBP1,000 in used notes. Of course all of his convoluted plans go horribly or thankfully wrong, depending on your point of view, leading to an even more convoluted revised plan. When first seen when young I wasted my time because I wasn't paying attention at the critical moment so missed the point and didn't get it: the key is how did the baddie get into the apartment? It's incredibly verbose, being from a stage play after all and at times it seems nothing more than a radio show with pictures. The long scene setting and verbal sparring by Milland and Anthony Dawson is superb to hear - it's fascinating for its relentless poetry, and of displaying a now-dead world. I could never understand the attraction of 3D movies, least of all with this particular attempt, or why Kelly was continually uglified by the Hollywood machine when she never looked lovelier than in here when she was playing stressed out throughout.
I wonder if Hitch remembered the jokey murder scene he did in 1930 in Elstree Calling when Jameson Thomas realised he was murdering in the wrong apartment? Turn that key you have and go in, it's a remarkably literate film and as intricate inside as any lock.
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