“A murder without gleaming scissors is like asparagus without the hollandaise sauce — tasteless.” – Alfred Hitchcock
In Dial M for Murder, quintessential cool blonde Grace Kelly stars as a very married society woman living in London and carrying on a torrid affair with an American writer (played by Robert Cummings). Not one to be neglected, her jealous husband (played by the always sinister Ray Milland) arranges the perfect murder. But thanks to a well-placed pair of scissors, the tables are turned, and Milland’s carefully-laid plans begin to disintegrate in a whirlpool of tricky suspense.
Dial M for Murder marked two firsts in the career of Alfred Hitchcock: it was the first film he made with Grace Kelly (whom he would later direct in Rear Window and To Catch a Thief), and it was the first and only film he ever made in 3D. All the rage at the time, the format did little but annoy Hitchcock, who found the 3D camera’s enormous bulk distracting and inelegant; when the film was first released, it was largely seen only in 2D. To work with the 3D format, Hitch, in typically clever fashion, confined most of the action to one set and set his cameras in a pit to get low-angle shots designed to emphasize depth and to give the film a theatricality and claustrophobia à la Rope and Rear Window. Only on this stage the proscenium doesn’t end at the screen, it extends into the audience! Despite his personal distaste for the format, the director ended up creating a true 3D classic, and in the justifiably famous “scissor scene” Hitchcock made one of the most startling and legendary uses of the 3D effect in film history, placing the viewer right in the midst of the struggle: a voyeuristic accomplice to murder as only Hitchcock could have planned. (Dir. by Alfred Hitchcock, 1954, US, 105 min., Not Rated) HD Digital