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Dial M for Murder [VHS]
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on November 15, 2012
I will not go into the details of the movie, as this has been done countless times already. I am only rating based on picture quality and 3D.

I was a little disappointed in the overall quality of the picture, but for a 60 year old film, I can live with the graininess and lack of sharpness. Overall, the picture quality was acceptable. Nowhere near today's standards, but again, this film is 60 years old.

I had never seen this film before, so was eagerly awaiting it's release, to see it in 3D. The story itself was gripping, in the usual Hitchcock fashion, and supenseful to the end. I was a bit surprised at the story line, as I was confusing this with one of my favorite Barbara Stanwyck films - "Sorry, Wrong Number". I was expecting the plot to be along the lines of that movie. However, the story line was quite enjoyable.

I don't know why so many people complained about ghosting in the 3D version of the film. I have two 3D TV's - a 32" Visio passive (polarized) LCD, and a 42" Panasonic Plasma Active Shutter TV.

I have to say that the film looked much better on the polarized screen. There was really not much ghosting at all, even in the beginning credits which were somewhat out of the screen. On the active shutter plasma, ghosting was much more evident, very much so during the opening credits, and at various points in the film, especially during dark scenes. While it was noticable, it certainly was not to the point of being annoying. But again, I repeat, this film looks much better on a polarized screen, whcih is the way it was originally shown.

As for 3D effect, it was simply brilliant. Those that complain about the film being rather flat do not know the correct usage of 3D. This film uses 3D in a very natural way.

Viewing in 3D is not about things always popping out of the screen. This is part of the effect of 3D, and sometimes used too much in some films. This is what gives 3D a bad rap in some people's opinion because they see it as gimmicky.

3D in the cinema should be used to display the image in a natural manner, where you are aware of the depth of the scene, and the relationship and distance between objects. In this respect, this film handles 3D very nicely. There were really no "gimmicky" popouts, with the exception of the opening credits, and those were comfortably viewed through my polarized TV (not so much with the active Plasma screen).

The only thing that bothered me at times were the outdoor scenes when the front of the building is shown with the street as a backdrop - the buidling and the characters in front of the building were in 3D, but the backdrop was flat. I can forgive this due to the age of the film and not having the advanced effects that are available today, but it did bother me somewhat.

I too also noticed a blue halo effect around the characters at some points, but it was not overly bothersome.

I did also notice the part near the end where the scene switched to 2D. At first I hadn't realized, but then it hit me that the scene was 2D. I don't know if this was intentional or just that that part of the film could nt be restored to 3D. But more than likely it was intentional as they surely would have mentioned this on the packaging if it was a defect of the transfer.

Overall, a very enjoyable film, one which I will watch many times again. I am thrilled that I have finally gotten to see this film in 3D.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 30, 2013
I purchased this movie from Amazon as a pre-order. A lot of people are putting the transfer of this 3d movie down.I saw this movie in the 80's wheb it was converted to side by side production. It is identical to the blue ray release. This movie only had 2 out of screen 3d effects. A hand coming out of the screen with a key near the end, and the hand with the scissors. The depth inside the screen was great. I guess they shot it like that as it was a stage play. The blue ray was dark and could have benn brightened up a bit, however it was dark in the theater as well. This movie played in the theater with House of Wax 3d. Dial M had a great picture compared to house of wax. It was also side by side conversion. Most of House of Wax was washed out in either left or right eye sometimes both. About half way through I left the theater because of a headache. If the dual strip they made house from is the only copy it is going to need a ton of work. I am satisfied with the quality of this blue ray as it is exatly as the movie was released in 3d.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on June 20, 2000
Although reviews tend to vary on this movie, I think it is one of Hitchcocks 10 best. Although the movie does not have as much mystery, suspense, or action as many of Hitch's other films, it does feature terrific acting, a good plot, and great direction, editing, and cinematography. Ray Milland and Grace Kelly put in terrific performances. Milland puts in such a good performance that you almost find yourself rooting for him to get away with his crime. I thought Robert Cummings was just average, but the role of the Inspector is one of the better supporting characters in any Hitch film. The ending, while not as famous as those in North by Northwest or Strangers on a Train, is so casual that I think it ranks as one of the best, if not the best, of all Hitch endings.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on October 3, 2006
First of all about the movie itself: this is good, if not great, Hitchcock. It's very entertaining if a bit stage bound, and the performances are uniformly fine.

That out of the way I thought I'd expand on the 3D aspect. I actually saw the 3D version about 25 years ago or so at a Hollywood theater on the Strip. It was part of a double feature with "Strangers on a Train" (there is a connection as it has been noted that the Ray Milland character in "Dial", a tennis pro, could have been the Farley Granger character in "Strangers").

I recall reading that when one reason Hitch shot the film in 3D was to bring out the realism of the stage play. This is evident in many scenes in the way objects are juxtaposed with the actors, such as lamps and furniture, as well as distances (seeing into the bedroom beyond the living room). In other words, the 3D served the story rather than the other way around.

But there were at least two showcase scenes where the 3D was key. The first was when the Grace Kelly character is being assaulted and is frantically waving her hand behind her (ostensibly to get the scissors). In 3D her hand was right in front of our faces, and we are basically helpless to assist. The second, while not as dynamic, is where the inspector presents the latch key, directly to the viewer.

As for the glasses, they were polarized--they did not have the red/blue lenses that people associate with 3D. The film was photographed using a process where to view it you wore what were like lightly shaded sun glasses (I think I still have them in a box somewhere), and therefore, with the color intact, it didn't detract from the film.

Though it lacked the sensational aspect of films like "House of Wax", the 3D was nevertheless effective in its subtlety, and I wish Warner could release a 3D version on DVD. I feel fortunate to have seen "Dial M for Murder" in 3D, and hope we all get the opportunity to see it in the future.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon October 31, 2012
"Dial M For Murder" was filmed 1:37-1 to be seen cropped on a 1:78-1 wide screen (This Blu-ray presents it as 1:77-1). While this widescreen format does crop a little off of the top & bottom, the old DVD Full Frame 1:33-1 image crops off the sides of the picture.

If you doubt this, just look at the newspaper headline that Grace Kelly is reading near the beginning:
The Full Frame DVD played on my Toshiba player: "UEEN MARY ARRIVES TODA". However when I play it on my Sony Blu-ray player it barely says "QUEEN MARY ARRIVES TODAY", the first & last letters are slightly cut off on the sides.
The Widescreen Blu-ray has "QUEEN MARY ARRIVES TODAY" with plenty of room on the sides.

As of April 1954, Hollywood adopted the new wide screen ratios ranging from 1:66-1 to 1:85-1 as the standard non-anamorphic picture format. "Dial M For Murder" was released at the end of May 1954. While "M" was filmed with an "Open Matte" 1:37-1 ratio, the cinematographers composed the picture framing for 1:78-1 wide screens. "M" looks much better when seen in widescreen, the top & bottom of the picture that are cut-off for in the widescreen version are just 'empty space' while the sides that are cut off on the full frame version make the film feel tight as objects & people are closer to the sides. I rarely come in defense of cropping the top & bottom for widescreen, but to Hitchcock the frame composition was very important and he knew this would be screened in 1:78-1 at the theaters.

If you have a DVD player that does not crop off the letters of the newspaper, then either version is perfectly watchable and will look correct.

Comparing this Blu-ray to the old DVD, outside of the screen ratio difference, the image differs drastically. Both images are soft (possibly characteristic of the Warner-Color Eastman Negatives), but the old DVD is brighter. This darker Blu-ray image may be more characteristic of the ambiance that Hitchcock intended for this dark story.

Some reviewers have commented on some scenes being softer than others. From what I have seen this can be explained by informing non-film makers of the old process of making films. "Transition" effects such as dissolves from one scene to another, or fade-outs & fade-ins required sending these scenes in to the film lab ahead of time. The film lab would then create a new strip of film with the created effects which would be edited into the camera negatives being assembled for the edited film. THIS MEANS THAT THESE SHOTS, CALLED PROCESS SHOTS, ARE ONE GENERATION FURTHER AWAY FROM THE CAMERA NEGATIVES, thus they are softer.

Could this have been a better transfer, I believe so. But remember that this was not filmed in Technicolor like many of their other color films of that time. The Warner-Color Eastman Negatives may have faded over the decades. The faults of this Blu-ray presentation may be the faults of the cheaper Warner Color filming.

The PREVIEW TRAILER is presented in letterboxed widescreen on the old DVD, indicating the intended aspect ratio. On the Blu-ray disc, the PREVIEW TRAILER is formatted 16x9 to fill the screen, but it has jerky movement from up-converting it from the old DVD. It should have been re-transfered from the original film!

***What is missing***
Oddly one of the original documentaries about 3-D is missing from this new 3-D Blu-ray release: "3-D A Brief History". Possibly this is because those interviewed state how they wish they could see "Dial M For Murder" in 3-D again as it has been years since they last saw it in 3-D. And the history lesson in this 7 minute documentary mis-leads you into believing that 3-D was invented in the 1950's when it was already decades old. A new, updated documentary should have replaced it.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon September 13, 2004
A bright, sparkling print resonating with deep, lush colors, this new DVD print of 1954's "Dial M For Murder" looks leagues better than many so-called DVD "restorations" of films released twenty or even thirty years later. Absorbing, funny, and wonderfully acted, "Dial M" is one of Hitch's best, and it's great to finally have it on DVD. A great little retrospective documentary (21 minutes); a featurette about 3-D technology (7 minutes); and a wonderfully preserved "Dial M" trailer are terrific bonuses here. Listening to director M. Night Shyamalan's detailed and extensive appreciation of the film was a particular treat during the documentary. Warner Brothers is to be commended for not trotting out the same old "talking heads" on this and the other retrospective documentaries that accompany this latest batch of Hitchcock DVD releases. Fresh faces and fresh perspectives elevate these extra features from pleasant additions to must-see status.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 11, 2012
There have been many complaints about this one in 3d. However this looked the same when shown in 3d in the 1980's. (As far as depth goes) Some scenes do have a double image though and that's not good. The 2d version has the same halo effect around some characters and the picture itself was never very vibrant. This movie is in fact restored, all the lines and scratches have been taken off the print. But even when it was completed it was never a shining example of a great 3d movie. In fact it is more like a stage play, but a good one with good actors. Bob Cummings , Grace Kelly and Ray Milland do their best in this average movie. It's Hitchcocks weakest film probably of that period in his career. Still a weaker Hitch film still has many fine elements and camera angles that are very good. I do hope that more early 3d movies are released , Hondo should have been put out that way. It was a far better 3d movie , and there's alot more titles that could be put out from the fifites 3d library. They will sell and should be out for the rest of us to enjoy. However this one isn't the strongest of that era. In fact it's one of the weaker in that regard. Not acting wise but in overall appearance. Still the 3d version does look better than the 2d version on this disc. I don't think the price is a good one though. A older movie shouldn't be more than 20.00 at most. There are extras on here , but don't expect a modern 3d experience , and even when it was released they didn't do the 3d until decades later! If you want a better 3d flick from this period then grab 'creature from the black lagoon' , but film fans like me wouldn't have this one any other way. It was shot in 3d , so I want it in 3d. I just hope that warner will do a better job on the other releases.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 27, 2006
Ray Milland schemes to knock off his lovely wife (Grace Kelly) in order to support his flagging bank balance...

His cause is "justified" by the fact that his wife is guilty of cheating on him...

Milland develops a carefully constructed murder plan, contacting Captain Lesgate (John Williams), an old college classmate operating illegal ventures, to whom he outlines his murder scheme and then blackmails into carrying it out...

The movie takes off from there as an intense character battle between three different characters... Tony, done by Ray Milland in outstanding performance, is icily intense and incredibly wild. He is easily the best of the three... Grace Kelly & Robert Cummings both pale in comparison, although Grace is slightly better, for the merely reason that her character is left for to do the least amount of truly suspenseful acting...

The murder is set up and is deliciously evil: The defining moment is when Ray Milland wipes clean every object he touches as he explains to Anthony Dawson how to carry out the murder of his adulterous wife, thus not incriminating himself... They discuss the closing of the screen door to the porch, the placement of the golden key, and the time it will take his woman to answer the distracting phone call...

Grace Kelly is the smart but vulnerable Margot... She begins her role dressed in bright crimson reds but as the film progresses and finds herself accused, her outfits become darker... Kelly is ingénue enough to be sympathetic but also tough enough to be respected... Her most memorable image was on the phone, oblivious to the assassin behind her...

Robert Cummings does not fare at all because of his comical face... He is the weakest cast member bringing so little to the table...

John Williams is excellent as the dangerous murder weapon tricked by a clever scoundrel... but he somewhere along makes one fatal mistake...

Anthony Dawson is absolutely brilliant, delightful as the eccentric Chief Inspector watching how the easy-talking husband is trying to cover his tracks... As soon as he arrives on scene to investigate the murder, there's an instant feeling of electricity... Here's a guy who can read human nature from a mile away... He takes compassion on Kelly, but unfortunately, the two don't partner up as in cop buddy movies...

The film, however, belongs to the sinister Ray Milland, the cold logic husband who designs the murder to look like a routine burglary gone wrong, and leads Scotland Yard into believing his wife is guilty of deliberate murder...

Milland, a genteel charmer with an icy murderous side, is perfect as Tony Wendice... If ever there was a demonstration of venality, Milland's Tony Wendice was it: courteous on the outside, devious on the inside... We see his cheery domestic manner with his wife... He blithely sends her out for the evening with her lover, then without breaking his stride sits down at the telephone and calls Swan, the man he intends to enlist for the murder... There is something chilling about the way in which Milland operates in these scenes: Once Swan arrives, the polite smile never leaves Milland's face as he switches gears from exchanging pleasantries to blackmail and murder.. The entire scene was shot from the ceiling...

'Dial M for Murder' holds its grip pretty well... Hitchcock provides the tension in many directorial tricks: Margot's unexpected change in plans for the evening; a hiding place for a key blocked by Mark at a critical moment; a stopped watch; an occupied telephone box; Margot's wavering hand holding the telephone that almost blocks Swan's access to her neck; Tony taking the key out of Swan's pocket and even briefing his wife what to tell the police...

'Dial M for Murder' is a classic stage murder thriller... It never reaches the heights that 'Rear Window' did, but it has to be one of the most brilliant stage thrillers ever written... The score, composed by Dimitri Tiomkin, is both eerie & precarious...

"Dial M for Murder" is a film that makes you pay attention. It is a definite must-see!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on August 13, 2000
I finally found this at the video store last night. An excellent movie...very well paced, and keeps your interest right from the onset. Grace Kelly is amazing as always, as is the rest of the cast. Hopefully, when the DVD comes out, it will include the 3-D version of this classic! Comparing it to other Hitchcock films, it has to rank among the top ones...however, it is hard to find a bad Hitchcock film (except "the Trouble with Harry"!)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I wouldn't put this movie in the top drawer of Hitchcock's output but it's still well worth watching. With the DVD, the extra features are very illuminating and watching the analysis of people like Peter Bogdanovich deepens the viewer's understanding and enjoyment.

The movie is based on a successful play by Frederick Knott, one of those playwrights much celebrated in their own time and now mostly forgotten. Hitchcock's treatment is very theatrical. Almost all the action takes place in one room. But his camera angles and the way he switches focus from one character to the next is masterful.

SPOILERS AHEAD: Tony Wendice, an ex-tennis player, wants to get rid of his unfaithful wife. He hires an old university acquaintance with a seamy past to do the deed. But his perfect crime goes wrong and the murderer ends up murdered. Quick as a flash, Wendice frames his wife for the murder.

The performances are all excellent but Ray Milland as Wendice stands out. This is a superb depiction of an oily, comletely amoral yet charming man. It's part of Hitchcock's genius that the viewer actually sympathizes with him. Grace Kelley is gorgeous as the wife, although not required to act up a storm. Other great performances come from John Williams, the chief inspector, and Antony Dawson, the murderer turned victim.

There are parts of the plot which are totally unrealistic and it's hard to say anything deep is explored in this movie. Just watch it to enjoy a master at work, in full command of a superb cast.
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