Dial M for Murder (Blu-ray) [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - United Kingdom - Warner Home Video
Review written by and copyright: Samuel Scott (6th May 2013).
The Film

***This is a technical review only. For reviews on the movie from various critics, we recommend visiting HERE.***

Originally shot in 3D and newly remastered and restored for Blu-ray 3D™, Alfred Hitchcock's screen version of Frederick Knott's stage hit Dial M for Murder is a tasty blend of elegance and suspense casting Grace Kelly, Ray Milland and Robert Cummings as the points of a romantic triangle. Kelly won the New York Film Critics and National Board of Review Best Actress Awards for this and two other acclaimed 1954 performances (Hitchcock's Rear Window and her Oscar®-honored work in The Country Girl). She loves Cummings; her husband Milland plots her murder. But when he dials a Mayfair exchange to set the plot in motion, his right number gets the wrong answer – and gleaming scissors become a deadly weapon. Dial "M" for the Master of Suspense at his most stylish.

Video

Warner Home Video release "Dial M for Murder" closer to the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio than their previous (albeit open matte) DVD releases, with a ratio 1.78:1. The disc includes both 3D and 2D versions of the movie, and for this viewing I opted for the 3D version which uses an MVC encode.

A lot has been said on various forums about this transfer and whether or not the obvious problems could have been prevented. Although I will mention the problems I noticed, it should be noted that some are down to the old WarnerColor process and a lot of extremely in-depth information can be found at 3D Film Archive. This is essential reading.

So let's start with what some of the problems are. As soon as the opening credits finish rolling, we get a very quick shot set outdoors. The quality of this shot is very poor, with no detail whatsoever and very murky colours. Unfortunately, the same can be said of all outside shots which add up to a total of probably two to three minutes. The next thing that might unsatisfy viewers is the large amount of halo effects/ringing. It's most notably round Ray Milland's character in the first apartment scene but it does appear prominently at various times throughout the film. The final bad point for me, was the lack of detail in some of the background props.

This isn't to say the picture quality is poor overall though. The 3D is generally unspectacular but there is some genius subtlety in the depth. Using simple household objects such as a lamp or desk, Hitchcock manages to give a good sense of depth without having to rely on overly complicated sets or resorting to gimmicks thanks to clever camera angles. There are a couple of brief popouts, with Grace Kelly's arm protruding from the screen as she struggles with her attacker being the highlight of the 3D presentation for me. Details on faces look quite sharp during close-ups and the red clothing/lipstick that Grace Kelly's character uses really stands out well.

Overall, the picture quality is certainly adequate, but the article I referenced in the second paragraph must be read to get a true idea of the various issues involved.

Audio

There are several audio options included here:
- English DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 Mono
- French Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
- German Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
- Italian Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
- Japanese Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
- Portuguese Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
- Spanish (Castellano) Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
- Spanish (Latino) Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono

Obviously I watched the film in the original language, and the track was nothing to shout home about. Fidelity is generally strong and there was no sign of dropouts, background hiss or scratches, but it sometimes felt as though dialogue wasn't quite as clear as it was supposed to be (and being English, it wasn't the accents). It's decent enough, but far from reference quality.

Subtitles are available in Dutch, English HoH, French, German HoH, Italian HoH, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish (Castellano) and Spanish (Latino).

Extras

There's only a small amount of extras included here.

We start with the "Hitchcock and Dial M" featurette (21:37) which has filmmaker Peter Bogdonavich talking about what Hitchcock had told him; "If the batteries are running dry, shoot a play". Film historian Robert Osborne talks about the film being one of Hitchcock's most confined, as does filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan. Shyamalan also talks briefly about how he loves that the structure of a single setting can be very powerful for the viewing experience. Richard Franklin (director of Psycho 2) talks about Hitchcock's use of colour, such as Grace Kelly wearing white in scenes with her husband, but red in scenes with her lover. Alfred Hitchcock's daughter Pat talks about how instinctive of an actress Grace Kelly was and why Hitchcock loved her. As the featurette moves on, some of the interviewees appear at several points to discuss particular subjects including Ray Milland's performance, Robert Cumming's character, the general subversive casting, and different story elements of the film. Additional interviewees are writer/actor Nat Benchley and film historian Richard Schienkel.

There is also a theatrical trailer (2:38).

Overall

3D score: C+

The Film: B+ Video: C+ Audio: C+ Extras: D Overall: C+

 


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