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Dialogue (part 2): Dial M For Murder (1954) Review

Updated: Sep 23, 2018

Hitchcock’s Dial M for Murder (1954) was the case study for the second part of looking into dialogue. Long scenes of dialogue are used to form the basis of the narrative and act as an essential tool in giving the viewer background information on the characters. The first few scenes are almost entirely conversational with little action needed to support the story (much of the location is shot in the living room of the protagonist Margot and her antagonist husband Ray’s apartment). The characters personalities were shown predominately through the dialogue of which Ray is the central figure. The words he spoke became a vital part in establishing his psyche and subsequent malicious intentions. Early on in Ray’s telephone conversation with Anthony, regarding him purchasing his car, you start to get a glimpse. He frequently barters showing he is shrewd and that money is an important objective. He also misleads Anthony by telling him he has a knee injury which he does not. As a viewer you are starting to see Ray as a liar. His style of dialogue is also very persuasive and charming which makes his ability to blur the lines of truth far easier. Even when Ray is describing how he would like him to kill his wife he is methodical, clear and unemotional. It is almost as if he is reading instructions from a manual. Dial M for Murder uses dialogue as an expression of the characters desires and personality, rather than relying on action.


(Photography: Warner Bros.)


References:

Dial M for Murder, 1954 (film), directed by Alfred HITCHCOCK. USA: Warner Bros.


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