When Hitchcock Dialed M for Murder

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After the lackluster response to I Confess!, Alfred Hitchcock turned to Dial M For Murder.

The film was based on the successful Broadway play, and Hitch filmed it in approximately 36 days. It grossed $2.7 million.

“If you have a hit play, just shoot it. Don’t open it up,” Hitchcock said. Of course, the Master of Suspense added his own signature flair, making this film to die for.

1. There was a giant phone.

In the 1950s, studios worried that television was going to steal their audience. 3-D films, a fad at the time, hoped to pull people back into theaters. Warner Brothers had Hitchcock film Dial M for Murder in 3-D, so the director worked to create interesting shots that would capitalize on the effect, such as Grace Kelly’s hand reaching out. He also had a large prop phone built for the moment when Ray Milland calls home. It was approximately four feet tall.

2. A big star wanted a part.

Cary Grant courted the part of former tennis player, Tony Wendice. However, Warner Brothers worried that the audience wouldn’t accept Grant as a plotting husband. A similar fear also affected Grant and Hitchcock in Suspicion (read about that here). In the end, Ray Milland got the part.

3. Kelly had a way with her wardrobe.

Hitchcock originally wanted Grace Kelly to wear a red velvet robe. However, she thought it would be more natural to play the scene in a night gown. After filming it, Hitchcock agreed and gave her more freedom with her outfits in the future. Kelly and Hitchcock worked together on three films – Dial M for Murder, Rear Window, and To Catch a Thief. She was also Hitch’s first choice to star in Marnie. However, by that time, she had retired from Hollywood life after marrying the Prince of Monaco.