Thursday, December 31, 2015

Film and Book Tally 2015

Man, where the hell did this year go? Felt like it just started. Anyway, I managed to stay true to my word about watching more movies and reading more books. (Not so much in regards with getting a job.) The lists start after the jump. (Believe me, I saw and read a lot this year.) Oh, and also resolutions for 2016.


Sometimes you don't need big-name stars or an overly complex plot to make a compelling film. Many times all that's needed are the right people for the job. Sometimes it works, other times it doesn't.

In regards with Sean Baker's Tangerine, it thankfully falls into the former category. Yes, its premise is a familiar one (a woman finds out her boyfriend's been unfaithful) but that's not what makes Tangerine stand out. What makes the film stand out is its two stars.

Kitana Kiki Rodriguez and Mya Taylor, two trans actresses with no prior experience in Hollywood, show immense promise because of their work in Tangerine. As is sometimes the case with various acting debuts, it's obvious (sometimes painfully so) that the actor is a newcomer. That's not the case with either Rodriguez and Taylor.

It's also worth mentioning that Rodriguez and Taylor's involvement in Tangerine could be the next step in Hollywood's progression. Recently television has become more progressive when it comes to trans characters (read: having them played by trans actors and actresses). Will this open more doors for other aspiring trans actors?

Tangerine is a fascinating watch. It doesn't resort to cheap stereotypes to further the story. It just relies on that stellar script. Hopefully we'll be seeing more of Baker, Rodriguez and Taylor over the coming years. (Oh, and that last scene is close to perfection.)

My Rating: *****

BOOK VS MOVIE: The Price of Salt/Carol

Love is a sensation unlike any other. It's a feeling that you only encounter once or twice in your lifetime but it's one that can be all-consuming. It's a feeling that's completely original, one that's indescribable.

And there have been countless works revolving around that very subject. Books, movies, plays, poetry,'s basically the most popular topic around. Of course when the word gets thrown around a lot, it starts to lose its meaning. Thankfully there are those who make sure that the word doesn't lose its impact.

Patricia Highsmith's novel The Price of Salt focuses on a young woman's budding relationship with an older woman. This being a book published during the early 1950s, it caused somewhat of a shock during this wholesome era. (Originally using the nom de plume Claire Morgan, Highsmith didn't associate herself with her second novel until later in life.) But like what E.M. Forster did with Maurice, Highsmith shows that love has no boundaries.

Todd Haynes' film Carol alters several details of Highsmith's novel but it maintains the forbidden romance of its day. (Haynes also shines a light on a subject that he only gave a faint interest towards in Far from Heaven.) With its meticulous costume and set designs, the film displays a sharp defiance beneath the composed dispositions. (Not to mention that heteronormativity is the worst.)

Between Highsmith's novel and Haynes' film, both show a lifestyle hidden beneath the glitz and glamour of the 1950s. But both works on their own stand out so deciding which is better is hard to say. Then again, there is another option...

What's worth checking out?: Both.

Monday, December 28, 2015


As we get older, we begin to realize certain things. What we've accomplished in our lives, the opportunities we've missed, the people we've known, the things we have yet to do. We're only on this earth for a short time so we must make the most of it.

Paolo Sorrentino's Youth is one of the latest films to focus on this topic. Set at a Swiss resort, it depicts those who come at a crossroads with their lives. Personal woes, professional plights...these are what they try to resolve (or at least come to terms with).

As the film wears on, it becomes clear that Federico Fellini's 8 1/2 provided some influence on Youth. Several scenes from Sorrentino's film easily parallel to those found in Fellini's film. (Thankfully not to a point where 8 1/2 is being blatantly ripped off.)

Indeed, the lead characters of Youth share of number of traits with Guido Anselmi. Despite his disinterest, composer Fred Ballinger (Michael Caine) faces pressure from the powers that be. Director Mick Boyle (Harvey Keitel) has a complicated connection with the women that have entered his life, especially frequent leading lady Brenda Morel (Jane Fonda). And actor Jimmy Tree (Paul Dano) is struggling in preparing for his next role.

Youth is good though it might reserved only for a select few. It's far from an easily accessible film but it's certainly one that'll be appreciated if viewed by an admirer of Fellini. It's not for everyone but it will be liked by a select few.

My Rating: ****

BOOK VS MOVIE: The Danish Girl

The transgender community over the years has been far from treated properly. Though as of late, they've been represented much better throughout the media. Several TV shows and films feature trans women as actual people rather than a cheap plot twist or an even cruder punchline. It helps even more to have trans actresses to play those roles. (See Orange is the New Black, Sense8 and Tangerine as recent examples.)

However, there have also been cis actors playing trans women more frequently. (See Dallas Buyers Club and Transparent as recent examples.) There's a level of political correctness in such a depiction. Is it because Hollywood is still too afraid to advance with the times? Regardless, the printed word has been more sensible with matters like this.

David Ebershoff's novel The Danish Girl is a fictionalized account of Lili Elbe (when she was still known as Einar Wegener) and her marriage to Gerda Gottlieb (Greta Waud in the book). Ebershoff depicts this brief union not as a conflicted one because of Lili's so-called "perversion" but as one of deep understanding. (Whether it was entirely like that in real life is hard to say.)

Tom Hooper's adaptation makes Ebershoff's novel more melodramatic than it needs to be. (If anything, it cheapens the story.) Yes, Alexandre Desplat's score and Danny Cohen's cinematography make a gorgeous combination but they alone can't salvage Lucinda Coxon's thin script and Hooper's occasionally sporadic direction. (Same can be said in regards with Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander's performances.)

It's easy to see which of the two is better. Ebershoff's novel is a quiet depiction of marriage and devotion. Hooper's film meanwhile reduces it to a looming scandal, a shocking story from the previous century. Both also decidedly proved which is more with the times.

What's worth checking out?: The book.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

What We Do in the Shadows

It's pretty obvious early on in Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi's What We Do in the Shadows that it's going to be something hilarious. Shot like a documentary (think The Office), the film chronicles the everyday lives of several citizens of Wellington, New Zealand...who happen to be vampires.

Very seldom does the mockumentary work well. (That is, unless your name is Christopher Guest.) But What We Do in the Shadows is one of those few exceptions. The reason? Well, if you've seen Flight of the Concords, you'll know why.

And What We Do in the Shadows doesn't pride in taking itself too seriously. (It surely wouldn't have been as funny if it did.) Though in all honesty, that's the whole point of comedy. If a comedic work takes itself either too seriously or not seriously enough, then it won't be as easy to enjoy.

Back to the film itself. What We Do in the Shadows is one of several films in recent years that has vampires as its main focus, and thankfully it moves far away from the whole Twilight frenzy. The lead characters are far from the usual sexy vampires (though they would probably suggest otherwise). It's nice to see that after that dreck of a franchise. (Then again, Only Lovers Left Alive started that trend.)

What We Do in the Shadows is a very funny film, one that we don't frequently get nowadays. It's proof that a good comedy doesn't need an absurd amount of crude humor to be funny. It just needs well-timed jokes (and the right actors to deliver said jokes).

My Rating: *****

Friday, December 25, 2015

Monsieur Verdoux

When we're first introduced to the titular character of Charlie Chaplin's Monsieur Verdoux, it's clear that he's a far cry from Chaplin's famous Tramp character. Yes, he does do a number of pratfalls and double takes normally found in Chaplin's silent films but it's certainly a new role for the comedian. Obviously so since Henri Verdoux is based on a real-life serial killer.

As if that couldn't tarnish Chaplin's previous image enough, Monsieur Verdoux was released when his career was beginning to dwindle. The was after his paternity suit, which put a sizable dent on his public image. Then to immediately follow it up with a film like Monsieur Verdoux? It's a miracle his career didn't end right then and there.

Much like The Great Dictator several years earlier, Monsieur Verdoux came under scrutiny because Chaplin expressed some of his political views in the film. After all, both films were released during a time in history where certain beliefs could ruin one's personal life. Chaplin was no exception. (The same year Monsieur Verdoux was released, Chaplin was subpoenaed to appear before the House of Un-American Activities Committee. And just five years later, he was denied re-entry into the United States.)

Another noticeable difference between the Tramp and Henri Verdoux is how they view and treat women. The Tramp practically worships any woman he comes across; Verdoux meanwhile has an almost misogynistic nature to him. No wonder Monsieur Verdoux wasn't so well-received upon its release.

That said, however, all of this information doesn't reduce Monsieur Verdoux to an unwatchable dreck. It's a nice departure from Chaplin's more optimistic films. It would be some time before his best film Limelight would be released but one has to wonder: what would his career during that time be like had Hollywood not kicked him out?

My Rating: ****1/2

The Bishop's Wife

Henry Koster's The Bishop's Wife opens with Dudley (Cary Grant) walking among the many Christmas shoppers, committing small good deeds as he passes them. Then he notices Julia Brougham (Loretta Young) gazing at a shop widow, and later on in the film they're introduced properly.

It turns out (as the title implies) that Julia's husband Henry (David Niven) is a bishop and he's trying to raise funds for a new cathedral. Henry prays for spiritual guidance, and enter Dudley. Why him? He's a guardian angel, that's why.

Released the same year as Miracle on 34th Street (and the year after It's a Wonderful Life), The Bishop's Wife is easily one of those films that you could get comfortable with during the the Christmas season. You know, the one you can watch either by yourself or with the family once the frenzy of the holiday season starts to die down. (And honestly, there's no better remedy for the holiday woes than a movie.)

The trio of Grant, Young and Niven is what makes The Bishop's Wife work so well. (To think the original cast would've featured the likes of Niven, Teresa Wright and Dana Andrews.) The charm of the actors are brought out to the fullest. (What else would you expect from the future director of Harvey?)

Anyway, The Bishop's Wife is deeply endearing, exactly the kind of film one needs during the holiday season. It's gotten lost in the shadow of It's a Wonderful Life and it deserves a re-discovery. Honestly, it does.

My Rating: *****

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road

When you watch the trailer for George Miller's Mad Max: Fury Road, you figure it's nothing more than an overblown reboot of his earlier film, one chock full of adrenaline and massive explosions. But what about the film itself? Thankfully there's so much more to it.

"Like what?" you might be asking. Well, you know how films of this nature tend to be brimming with testosterone and toxic masculinity? Yes, the film does feature the latter in copious amounts but thankfully it's only reduced to the antagonists. (Surely this would've been a thoroughly obnoxious film to watch had it been all of the male characters.)

And though his name is in the title, Mad Max: Fury Road isn't just about Max Rockantansky (a grumbly Tom Hardy). No, this film shows that this desolate wasteland isn't just a man's world. There are women out here that know how to kick ass and take names.

And one such woman is Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron). Frequently we're treated to various female characters who can hold their own alongside their male co-stars when it comes to kicking ass. Annoyingly they tend to get reduced to romantic interests for said male co-stars. (*cough* Black Widow *cough*) Miraculously, that doesn't happen to Furiosa. (Thank you, Miller, for that.)

Mad Max: Fury Road is, simply put, friggin' awesome but the hype surrounding it is somewhat overselling the film. Yes, it has well-developed female characters. Yes, it has well-executed practical effects. But overall, it's another action film that has fallen victim to the Hollywood hype machine. (Bear in mind this is the critique of someone who much prefers more subdued works.)

My Rating: ****

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Burning Man

It's established early on in Jonathan Teplitzky's Burning Man that Tom (Matthew Goode) is living a chaotic life. He's a man with a stormy attitude, an unstable family life, and everything else about him is falling to pieces. As the film wears on, we see why Tom's life is the way it is.

Like 21 Grams the previous decade, Burning Man is told through a non-linear narrative. We see in fragments Tom's life before and after it started to fall apart. It's a storyline frequently told throughout fiction, one that only a few choice names can do well.

Like his follow-up film The Railway Man, Teplitzky shows how the events of one's past can linger in the present. Granted, what Tom went through is nothing compared to Eric Lomax's ordeal but what Tom endured can be just as traumatic. (Life can be cruel sometimes.)

A main theme throughout Burning Man is the slow path to recovery, something that we'll encounter at some point in our lifetime. Life in of itself  is far from ideal but that's something we have to accept. We may feel as though the pain will never disappear but sometimes all it takes is that one person to help you end that dark chapter and start anew. (Sometimes that person can be you yourself.)

Burning Man is good but nothing too groundbreaking. Goode continues to prove that he's a vastly underrated (and underused) actor. (Then again, Stoker also proved that a mere two years later.) That said, Burning Man is worth a look.

My Rating: ****

Monday, December 21, 2015


The human race is far from perfect. We're a society that frequently falls victim to the numerous sins and vices around us. Even if we manage to resist temptation, our guard may be broken down and we succumb to our dark desires.

And in our twisted thinking, some believe the best solution to getting what we want is murder. Clear a debt with someone? A better way to getting rid of a spouse than divorce? Keeping a secret hidden longer? Taking a life is a temporary reprieve from personal problems, and fiction adores using this as a means of conflict. (And unfortunately, it's something that happens in real life as well.)

William Shakespeare's Macbeth is basically the archetype for this plot. A tale of ruthless persuasion and manipulation, it shows the lengths one will go to get what they want. But these actions have their consequences as well.

Justin Kurzel's adaptation manages to convey the general mood of Shakespeare's play though the driving force for the two leads (keenly played by Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard) seems somewhat altered. They appear to be slowly going mad from grief (and eventually guilt). That doesn't alter the general mood of the film too much.

So is Shakespeare's play the superior choice or does Kurzel's film hold that honor? Kurzel's adaptation is basked in frigid blues and warm oranges, which contrasts the story's dark tone. And while Shakespeare can be hard for some to get into, his words still fascinate us centuries after his death.

What's worth checking out?: Both.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

From the moment you hear that familiar theme in J.J. Abrams' Star Wars: The Force Awakens, you know you're in for a treat. The feeling of nostalgia courses through you as you watch that famous opening scroll. But how does the rest of the film fare?

Of course Abrams' contributions to the Star Trek reboots have been meet with mixed reception (the first one positive, the second one...not so much). So what about his involvement in an even bigger science fiction pop culture sensation? Much like the revival series of Doctor Who, having someone who grew up with this sci-fi phenomenon at the helm certainly helps a great deal.

How so? They know what the other fans like, which famous scenes and lines resonate with them. And Abrams does pay homage to the original trilogy throughout Star Wars: The Force Awakens but in a nice, subtle way. (They work even if you haven't seen the original trilogy.)

But how does Star Wars: The Force Awakens compare to the trilogy helmed by George Lucas, Irvin Kershner and Richard Marquand? Well, it's noticeably more diverse when it comes to both its characters and cast. (Could you imagine the reaction had they tried that back in '77?) And Abrams certainly makes up for the somewhat sexist nature of his Star Trek films.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is entertaining through and through. Like the original films, it has the right balance of laughs, adventure and wonder. Oh, and that final scene will both make the Star Wars fan in you grin with delight and leave you aching for the next installment.

My Rating: *****

Monday, December 14, 2015

BOOK VS MOVIE: In the Heart of the Sea

The sea is a cruel face of nature. It can claim many victims whether from the many creatures living within it or from the violent storms it plays host to. Point being many tales have been told about the perils of the sea.

One of the most famous stories is Herman Melville's Moby-Dick. A tale of adventure and obsession, it's a story that has captivated readers for well over a century. But did you know that the story of Captain Ahab and the Pequod was based on real events?

Nathaniel Philbrick's In the Heart of the Sea chronicles the voyage that would inspire Melville's magnum opus. It depicts the various plights the crew of the whaleship Essex endured during its last expedition. The novel also examines other maritime incidents, a condensed history of whaling, and grim details of what the crew endured. (And "grim" is an understatement.)

Ron Howard's adaptation does manage to capture many of the action scenes but it seems more reliant on the events being an inspiration for Melville. Certain details are toned down so as to not to horrify the viewer and others are modified for the sake of drama. (That said, there are some shots from Anthony Dod Mantle's cinematography that would make J.M.W. Turner proud.)

So what's worth checking out more: Philbrick's novel or Howard's film? On the one hand, Philbrick's novel provides great detail on one of history's forgotten maritime tragedies. But on the other hand, Howard's film depicts the horrors the Essex crew faced quite well. Though it's fairly obvious which of the two is more successful.

What's worth checking out?: The book.

A Christmas Story

Ah, the holiday season. That wonderful time of year where we eat more than usual, exhaust our wallets and bank accounts, and have to deal with family more than usual. And when you manage to duck away from yet another family gathering, there's no better remedy than a movie apt for that time of year.

And what can be better than Bob Clark's A Christmas Story? After all, enduring the holidays can be draining; seeing someone else go through the same thing can be hilarious. (Schadenfreude at its finest.)

But there's more to A Christmas Story than the title implies. It's not just about Christmas; it's also about the innocence of childhood, how everything seemed possible. Including getting that one present for Christmas that you practically begged for.

The film also shows the innocence of a time passed, how parents let their kids run free without a second thought. Of course now that's not something that would happen on a regular basis but it shows how safe everyone felt during that time in history. Of course this was before the world was once again plunged into chaos...

A Christmas Story is a delight to watch whether by yourself or with a group of people. Though it does show its age in spots, that doesn't hinder its quality too much. Not to mention it's unbelievably quotable. ("You'll shoot your eye out, kid!")

My Rating: ****

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Stella Dallas

Barbara Stanwyck nowadays is known for playing the quick-talking dame who isn't afraid to speak her mind. Stanwyck of course was a consummate professional, dabbling in a variety of genres throughout her career. As a result, she's known as one of the greats of Hollywood's Golden Age.

Her work in King Vidor's Stella Dallas proves that. As the self-sacrificing titular character, Stanwyck plays a woman who first wants the best for herself but her intentions soon shift to her daughter. A story familiar in both fiction and real life, certainly, but an effective one if done properly.

This was released at a time where studios were regularly churning out melodramas. So how does Stella Dallas stand out? Having a big name like Stanwyck certainly helps but there's another aspect to the film that also helps it. It shows the differences in the classes of society, how one person's dressed up could be another person's gaudy.

Back to Stanwyck for a moment. As mentioned earlier, she's held in high regard for the impact her career had. And her work in Stella Dallas proves that she was capable of more than just playing the street smart dame from the Big Apple. She could also play the caring matriarch with ease.

Stella Dallas isn't high amongst Stanwyck's best-known films but it's certainly one that's worth a look. It proves that you don't need a sappy script to make an effective melodrama. It shows its age occasionally, yes, but that shouldn't stop you from seeing it.

My Rating: ****

To Catch a Thief

Boy, when it comes to old school glamour, no one can top Cary Grant. The man wore a well-tailored suit with ease and his natural charm made him irresistible. There have been many imitators but there will only be one Cary Grant.

And nobody captured Grant's suave nature better than Alfred Hitchcock. (Their four-film collaboration proved that effortlessly.) Their third collaboration To Catch a Thief, set against the backdrop of the French Riviera, is easily the most chic. (A whole eight years before Charade too!)

And like Charade, Grant is alongside an actress who's better known as a style icon. But instead of Audrey Hepburn, here he has Grace Kelly as a co-star. And the glamour from both of them just radiates on screen. (Certainly doesn't hurt that both of them are Hitchcock regulars.)

A plot device regularly found in your average Hitchcock picture is the accused innocent. Such films to feature that include the likes of The 39 Steps and (more obviously) The Wrong Man. To Catch a Thief has this plot, a whole four years before Hitchcock and Grant would do it with North by Northwest.

To Catch a Thief is good but compared to the other films Hitchcock did with Grant and Kelly, it pales in comparison. It relies more on the romance between the two stars than on the thrills. Still, at least it's pretty to look at. (Robert Burks didn't win an Oscar for nothing.)

My Rating: ****

Wednesday, December 9, 2015


In the society we're a part of, it's hard to find something original to enjoy. Television shows based on movies, books being adapted into movies and television's almost as if we've run out of ideas. However, exceptions can be made for matters like this.

Remakes and reboots primarily can only work if a new angle to the original story is there. So how has Ryan Coogler's Creed fared? Taking elements from the six Rocky films, Creed both adds to the franchise's legacy and stands out as its own film.

In sharp contrast to his previous film Fruitvale Station, Coogler takes on a film with more aggression and violence. (Well, it is about boxing.) But Coogler also explores similar themes from his first film, such as doing what's right and making a better future. (Will these be recurring themes in Coogler's future films? Time will only tell.)

And the performances Coogler got out of his actors are great. Michael B. Jordan (who also starred in Fruitvale Station) continues to prove he's an actor to an eye on. Tessa Thompson (who's also great in Dear White People) does much of the same thing. And then there's Sylvester Stallone. This is a role he first did thirty-nine years ago and his work here proves he's still got it.

Creed is one of those films that you think would just be all right but it turns out there's much more to it. Thanks to the work from Coogler, Jordan, Thompson and especially Stallone, this is proof that we're witnessing a new film revolution. (That last scene in particular is proof that Coogler is going to have a long and fruitful career.)

My Rating: *****


Ah, behind the scenes drama. Just a match made in fictional heaven, isn't it? Unsurprisingly many of them are set within the years following World War II, a supposedly wholesome era of churchgoing and high morals. But as is often the case, there are more tantalizing stories from behind closed doors.

And the more tantalizing stories are the real-life ones. Lana Turner on trial for the murder of her gangster boyfriend, Robert Mitchum jailed for marijuana possession, Elizabeth Taylor's active love life...these are the stories that the masses just devour. But sometimes such scandals involve those whose faces are never seen on camera.

Jay Roach's Trumbo (if the title wasn't obvious enough) focuses on the life of Oscar-winning screenwriter Dalton Trumbo (played here by the frequently infallible Bryan Cranston) during his time as one of the Hollywood Ten, a group of people who were refused employment because of their involvement and/or sympathies with the Communist Party. Nowadays political opinions aren't as career-threatening but bear in mind this was the early years of the Cold War. Everyone was paranoid. (It wasn't called the Red Scare for nothing.)

Trumbo also highlights the various political changes the United States went through during the 1950s. From the Rosenbergs' executions to the early years of the civil rights movement, it shows how the country's attitudes shifted from high-strung to more accepting. (Though it appears to be a repeating cycle with every passing decade...)

All in all, Trumbo is good but the story gets muddled too frequently. Still, the work from the various actors (particularly Cranston) is solid enough to keep the film moderately watchable. That all said though, this is something you can wait to see.

My Rating: ****

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

A Hard Day's Night

Everyone knows how Richard Lester's A Hard Day's Night opens. A throng of screaming fans are chasing the Beatles as they try to get to their train. Given this was made during the height of the band's fame (it was made shortly after their appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show), it wasn't too hard to find extras to do the task. But there's so much more to the film than the opening sequence.

From an era with ever-changing opinions on next to everything, A Hard Day's Night is a testament to its era. This was a time in history where its target audience were the baby boomers, a generation more liberated than the previous one. This was a generation seeking its own identity and what better form of identity is there than music?

As you watch the Fab Four on screen, you can't help but be surprised that A Hard Day's Night had a script. (An Oscar-nominated one too!) Of course the quartet are playing exaggerated versions of themselves but does that matter in the end? Of course not. But to choose which of the four steals the show, that honor easily goes to John Lennon. ("I now declare this!")

That said, there are a few elements in A Hard Day's Night that wouldn't go by as easily as they did in 1964. At one point in the film, Ringo Starr temporarily leaves the band which he would do several years later. (And then there's the manager repeatedly threatening to kill Lennon...) That said though, the looming shadows of those events don't hinder the film's quality.

A Hard Day's Night is a deeply entertaining film, one that can be enjoyed if you're a fan of the Beatles or not. (Though to be honest, how could you not be a fan of the Beatles?) It's just one of those films that you need to see.

My Rating: *****

Saturday, December 5, 2015

The "Try It, You'll Like It!" Blogathon

Fritzi of Movies Silently and Janet of Sister Celluloid are hosting another blogathon, and this one just seemed right up my alley. How so? Well, the main objective, in Fritzi's words, is "where we write about 'gateway films' that might bring non-classic-film lovers into the fold!" So what to choose? Something accessible to the masses, something that still resonates long after many (if not all) of its stars have passed on. My film of choice?

(1952, dir. Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen)

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Dial M for Murder

Alfred Hitchcock's Dial M for Murder opens with Margot Mary Wendice (Grace Kelly) reuniting with her lover Mark Halliday (Robert Cummings). She tells him that she's being blackmailed over their affair. In the following scene, it's revealed that her husband Tony (Ray Milland) is the one blackmailing her. And he has something planned for her: murder.

Similar to Hitchcock's Rope several years earlier, Dial M for Murder focuses on the planning and execution of the so-called perfect murder. But as shown in both films, the arrogance and overconfidence of the perpetrators result in them overlooking the most glaring of details. (The true trait of a narcissist: they think they're smarter than everyone else.)

And similar to Hitchcock's Rear Window released that same year, it sees Kelly thrown into the middle of criminal activity. But the roles between both films are completely different. Rear Window has Kelly trying to solve a possible murder; Dial M for Murder has her as the potential victim. (Either way, she's in the role of the Hitchcock blonde in peril.)

But that doesn't mean Dial M for Murder doesn't hold its own among Hitchcock's films. Like several of his other films, it's based on another work (in this instance, Frederick Knott's play of the same name) and Hitchcock makes it into something of his own. Only a few directors are capable of this task; Hitchcock was most certainly one of them.

Dial M for Murder isn't frequently held in the same regard as some of Hitchcock's other films. (Why that is, it's hard to say.) Thanks to the work from Milland and Kelly, it's one of those films that you kind of have to see.

My Rating: ****1/2