Film Forum revives ‘greatest 3D film’ in Hitchcock’s ‘Dial M for Murder’
NEW YORK – While 3D movies are having a rocky summer among moviegoers grown weary of a gimmick that’s become grossly overexploited, New York’s astute Film Forum is smartly mustering its unique technology to present an exclusive weeklong run of what many film buffs consider the best 3D movie of all time – Alfred Hitchcock’s “Dial M for Murder.”
Film Forum’s rarely seen presentation of the film, employing a cumbersome but historically correct double-system 3D projection, will run from Friday, June 17, through Thursday, June 23. A similar run last summer sold out every show.
In the so-called “golden era” of the technology in the 1950s, when 3D was all the rave and movies such as “Bwana Devil,” “House of Wax” and “Creature From the Black Lagoon” were wowing audiences, Warner Bros. insisted to Hitchcock that his next film be made in 3D. Hitchcock considered 3D to be a passing fad but in typical fashion determined to employ the technology on his own terms to adapt “Dial M for Murder,” a talky but compelling stage chamber drama by Frederick Knott, for the big screen.
The story concerns a retired British tennis pro named Tony Wendice (Ray Milland, who replaced an earlier cast Cary Grant), who conspires to have his wealthy, socialite wife Margot (Grace Kelly) murdered for her inheritance. Robert Cummings is cast as an American writer and friend of the couple, and John Williams plays the wily Scotland Yard detective on the case.
In deference to the 3D process, Hitchcock employed lots of low-angle shots with lamps and other decorative elements of the setting in the foreground. But for the most part he used 3D sparingly. When he did emphasize it, he did so to stunning effect, as in the gripping scene in which Margot is being attacked and strangled. At one point, she desperately reaches behind her on a table for a pair of scissors, and in 3D she appears to be grasping her hand directly into the audience.
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