…Without messing his suit or moving a hair out of place.
Ray Milland conspires to commit murder with all the decency one would expect from an English subject in good standing of her majesty the Queen. (Princess) Grace Kelly (of Monaco), the target in Alfred Hitchcock’s Dial M for Murder, no less could be expected.
A marriage dissolving, Milland, as haughty tennis champion Tony Wendice, doesn’t see a divorce as tidy as a permanent disconnect from the future royal in real life. Strictly an age of amateurs on the grass courts of Wimbledon, the insurance money that goes with it is only the icing – especially since the rage he feels of Kelly’s infidelity wouldn’t do the whole discrepancy justice.
But the initial rash impulse to discard his lady is tempered upon the sudden appearance of an old acquaintance. One, whose references are quite assuredly lacking. Doing the serendipity its due diligence, Milland, patiently tails “Swann” until a malfeasance reveals itself and makes the would be assassin malleable to murder. Masterfully pigeon holed to his fate, Swann relents, and the thousand pound payoff is the least the gentlemanly Milland can do for the murderous bird he has caged.
Of course, as in all deeds of dastardly cinematic origin, things go awry. As such, Milland’s grounded sensibility begs a hope that he will reassert a course more in accordance of his own good stock. In other words, when Kelly fends off Swann with a pair of scissors, Milland stays true to his duplicitous designation and leaves it to the state to do his dirty work.
Going into full frame mode by rearranging all the pertinent evidence, he placates Kelly as the loving husband – replete in supplying the heroine with just enough conflicting testimony that the jury views her as a two timing liar of the English upper crust. Thus, the court passes a judgment of death on Kelly’s passive and bewildered acceptance.
The tailored suit, manicured hair and regal stride all remain unruffled and suffice for the villainy which Milland so easily struts. Then given what Hitchcock did to Janet Leigh in Pyscho, the noose seemed tightly nestled around the princesses’ neck.
But England is also home to its share of well creased, straight laced and even headed good guys. Chief Inspector Hubbard, seizing on several loose ends doesn’t need to be caught up in Kelly’s grace to get an accurate read on Milland, and the events that played out on the couple’s upscale terrace apartment.
As such, the inspector gets Milland himself to replay the key component of the crime and ties the whole story into a tidy little bow. Nowhere to run without any recourse, Milland remains in stride, and tea not befitting his demise, he concedes the truth via 100 proof. Whiskey all around, the gentleman can only lament a nearly perfect crime which ultimately amounts to a cinematic milestone that requires your astute attention.
Rich Monetti lives in Somers, New York. He graduated with a degree in Computer Science from Plattsburgh State but changed careers to journalism in 2003. When not working on features, he's honing a screenplay loosely and humorously based on Richard III, and the events that led up to his demise. You can follow him on his blog.