You’re a Detective, Let Me Give You a Tip. Don’t Wave Important Evidence in a Telephone Booth. They Have Glass Windows: Blackmail (1929)

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You’re a Detective, Let Me Give You a Tip. Don’t Wave Important Evidence in a Telephone Booth. They Have Glass Windows

So this is an Alfred Hitchcock film.

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Most people don’t. This is one of his early films, and the first “talkie” he made. In fact this is the first British talkie.

Mal_huh Whoa Wow what

Originally Hitchcock wanted it to be silent, but was forced to add sound so that England could catch up with the USA. This caused quite a few issues as the leading actress, Anny Odra, looked the right part, but her accent was so incredibly thick that no one could understand her and she had to lip sync her lines.

ouch Hermione

It also has quite a few music heavy scenes as theaters weren’t quite ready to just have the sound of voices, and neither was Hitchcock. He thought talkies were ridiculous.

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Now I thought about doing three Hitchcock films again, but I wasn’t sure what to do after Psycho. I decided to do this early film as I think it is unfair that a lot of his work that set up the later films are ignored. Thus far I have only planned on reviewing this Hitchcock film, but you never know. A lot can happen in a month and I might change my mind and add another.

Who knows!

Who knows!

So on to the review.

DeanSupernaturalLetsGetStarted

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So the film starts off with a group of police officers, Scotland Yard [as this is when Hitchcock was in England], are off in a paddy wagon searching for a man. Their is no sound in this beginning part, just chase music.

 

The man they are looking for is smoking in bed. He sees the men approach his door through a reflection in the mirror. There is a gun next to him in the bed and he looks at it, while pretending to read the paper. He tries to reach for it, but the detectives stop him and force him to dress. He is under arrest.

Or in this case "we"

Or in this case “we”

They carry him down and take him in the wagon to New Scotland Yard. The spend a long time questioning him, the passage of time being shown through multiple cigarettes being burned.

Being questioned police Annex - Tierney, Gene (Laura)_03

After the hours of questioning, the days not over yet. They still have to put him in a lineup, wait as the witness looks over the men and ponders of one is the one they saw. When their man is selected he is formally charged, taken fully into custody, fingerprints are taken, he is sent to the cells, etc. The detectives work is over for the day.

Take note, rest of Hollywood.

Two of the detectives were involved stop in a bathroom to polish up. One of them is Detective Frank Webber (John Longden), he has a date tonight and heads out to meet his girlfriend who should be waiting in the foyer.

Alice White is waiting, as she has been there for thirty minutes. She is very upset with Frank as she hates waiting.

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Frank tries to greet her, but Alice is just angry with him. She won’t let him hold her arm or hand; and keeps looking away from him. This attitude doesn’t please Frank as Alice has been doing this a lot and he feels she is overreacting.

You need to calm down

You need to calm down

He’s a detective, sometimes things won’t go according to plan, it is part of the job.

The two take a train, and here we have the longest cameo of Hitchcock in any of his films.

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It is hilarious. The whole trip he is trying to read and a little kid just will not leave him alone. After this Hitchcock decided to make his cameo’s short, quick, and early on as to not take away film.

Take note, rest of Hollywood.

They go out to a tea room, but have trouble finding a place to sit as it is packed. Alice is still mad at Frank for being late and blames him for their current trouble.

Laura Angry Mad Upset

Now I personally think that Alice is overreacting. First of all you are dating a detective, you should know that things will come up and they might have to work later than planned. I mean, come on. It goes with the territory. And secondly, from the way the room is mobbed with people, if you had arrived 30 minutes earlier, it really wouldn’t have helped you out.

So there! tongue sticking out pug

They have to literally fight for a table, managing to scoop one from another couple. But when they sit down, Alice complains that she left her glove at the previous table they had tried to sit at. Frank being a gentleman, goes to retrieve it.

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Frank returns with the glove and jokes that he could tell it was hers because of all the holes in it. Alice doesn’t laugh but continues to be angry and snippy at him for making her wait around, acting like he does it for fun. Frank explains that it is work, but Alice continues on feeling wounded.

Now Alice is not really angry at him for being late, but upset because she feels he doesn’t pay enough attention to her, but puts her behind his work.

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But instead of telling Frank why she is upset she kind of tries to play games with him. Frank is trying to get the waitresses attention, because they were going to see a new Scotland Yard film, and he doesn’t want to be late. Alice, upset and trying to get him jealous/pay attention tells him she doesn’t want to see the film as she’s “seen all worth seeing.”

No thank youhowaboutno

Frank goes to speak to the waitress to get their order and while he is gone Alice spots another man.

What! Mark Wahlberg that's weird

He greets her and heads to another table. Alice then pulls out a note given to her by him earlier.

I’ll be there 6:30 Tuesday, will you?

I don't think so

What a jerk! There is no excuse in all the world to ever justify cheating on your relationship.

ThewomenBadnameBitch

Frank returns, ready for them to stay as they aren’t going to the movies. But Alice tells him she has changed her mind and wants to go.

Okay...

Okay…

But then Alice changes her mind again (this is the third time) and doesn’t want to go.

What?

What?

But then she changes her mind again and doesn’t want to go with him.

Tom-Hanks-Saying-Really

This makes Frank angry as he is tired of this mood Alice is in and doesn’t want to play any games. He tries to get the waitress to take care of their order but can’t flag her down.

 Things are not going as Alice imagined they would in her head and she tries to fix things and get him to stay, but Frank is done. He leaves money on the table and exits the restaurant.

See ya!

See ya!

Frank doesn’t actually leave but paces outside reviewing what happened in his head. He decides he overreacted and starts to go inside to apologize when he sees Alice leave the restaurant with another man, the same one she had made plans with earlier.

OMG gasp

Poor Frank!

right in the feels broken heart

I truly think she engineered the whole fight to get rid of Frank and wasn’t sorry.

Seriously!

Seriously!

So the guy Alice is with is never given a name, he is The Artist in the credits so that is what I will call him.

Anyways,  Alice and the artist walk back to his place. Outside it, is a man waiting to speak to the artist.

suspicious Hmm

Originally, the Artist was going to walk her home; but “as they are right by his home” he offers to show her his “studio”.

Really? His "studio"?

Really? His “studio”?

Alice doesn’t want to go at first, kind of playing that she “can’t”. But then decides to head in.

Don’t do it Alice, it is nothing but trouble.

trouble Twilight Zone

Before they go in, the artist is called over by the man. They have a quick discussion, with the artist he saying no and then he and Alice continue in.

I wonder what that was all about.

I wonder what that was all about.

Before they head up to the top floor, his studio, the artist looks at his mail first and sees something distressing. He sends Alice up while he deals with it. He questions the landlady about the note.

Who is this man? Why does it distress him so?

Hmm...

Hmm…

Anyways, the artist’s studio is on the top floor. When they get there he makes a fire to keep them warm. Seduction 101.

Alice looks around the room at the art and sees a weird Jester picture that makes her laugh. I’m not sure why as I always thought it just looked odd.

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However, the painting laughs and Alice laughs with it. Maybe she is laughing to hide her hurt over Frank. Maybe she is laughing because she wants to convince herself that the artist is a better guy. Maybe she is laughing because she is doing something out of character, wild. Maybe she laughs because she is breaking the rules; in a man’s room at night. Well whatever the reason, the two laugh together.

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Alice waits for the artist to finish with the fire and plays with the piano. She then spots the painters palette and asks him how to hold it, of which he comes to show her. She accidentally paints the canvas and he has her keep going. All she can do is make a stick figure like face, so the Artist “helps” her paint, holding onto her.

Really? His "studio"?

Really? His “studio”?

They two make a body for the girl, a naked body. Foreshadowing.

dun-dun-duuuun

Alice then signs the painting, while the artist goes to get them some drinks. Alice looks around the room and sees a costume and holds it onto her, asking about being painted.

The artist asks her to put it on so he can paint her, but Alice refuses as she has to go home.

Gotta go!

Gotta go!

This makes the artist is “sad” as he thinks she would make the most lovely painting. But no, now that he thinks about it his costume wouldn’t suit her.

Really? That old line?

Really? That old line?

But Alice falls for it and decides to put the costume on. Alice goes to one side of a screen and undresses as the artist plays the piano.

BadFeelings

Artist sings to her playing the piano, and Alice listens to it in her little costume. When she comes out, the artist really lays on the flattery telling her the song he was singing was all about her. Alice comes out in the little costume as she can’t zip it up and neither can he, Alice chooses to leave it alone.

Bad idea. Stop Alice.

Bad idea. Stop Alice.

He then sets her just right, caressing her body, and going in for the kiss. Alice says no, and decides she needs to go. She starts to undress, when the artist approaches her, taking her dress away. He won’t give it back until she comes out to get it.

It's getting worse!

It’s getting worse!

He wants to be with her but Alice says no. Unfortunately, she didn’t know this guy very well before she decided to go up in his room alone with him, as he doesn’t take no for an answer.

The next scene is done very well and in true Hitchcock fashion. Out of any director, he always knew how much to show, and how much to leave up to the viewer’s imagination.

Master

Master

So the two struggle as the artist tries to rape Alice. We never see the fight but through a shadow and the way the curtain moves. Alice manages to grab the bread knife on the table next to the bed, and stabs him.

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Now here is where I can see why Hitchcock choose Ondra as his leading lady. Prior to this act, Alice was silly, innocent, childish, selfish, and acting only on her needs. After this act, her whole personality changes in the film; reflecting that shattered innocence and trauma she faces.

I’m getting ahead of myself. So Alice is in shock after murdering the artist and moves about sluggishly, mechanically, almost robotically. In fact, she reminds me a lot of the robot Maria in Metropolis

Alice doesn’t know what to do, but knows she needs to get out. She grabs her dress and sees the Jester. No longer are they laughing together, but instead the Jester is laughing at her. And how she was so foolish. Angry, Alice punches the picture.

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This causes her to wake up from her distress and she throws her dress on, and coat, in such a hurry that she doesn’t even zip up the dress. She quickly grabs her bag and umbrella, quickly painting over her name on the other canvas.

Getting out of here

Getting out of here

She turns out the lights and starts to sneak downstairs. We see his signature style in the cinematography with the stairs, lights, and use of angles.

shadow-of-a-doubt-room door break into

Something that will be done in future films, such as Shadow of a Doubt.

As Alice walks away we see the shadow of the man who had accosted the artist earlier, trying to speak to him about something.

It's getting worse!

It’s getting worse!

Alice walks home almost in a trance, zombish as everything she sees makes her think of the dead body. She sees a bar sign that shows a shaking of a drink, but instead sees a hand stabbing with a knife. Alice just walks all over, hurt, shock, uncertain, afraid, and seeing the dead hand, the dead arm, the dead man she killed.

The_Wolf_Man_4Crying sad

We then hear a scream, the landlady found the body.

#4

Scotland Yard is called on the case, and Frank gets called in on it, topping off his sucky night. He starts poking around the apartment, looking at everything, looking out the window, and spots the broken picture. He looks at the costume and the painting. As he looks at the laugh, he shares in the joke that this guy thought he was going to have a fun night but instead ended in death.

But then he finds a glove.

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Full of holes like his girlfriend’s…It looks and feels like hers. He then sees the body, that face He knows!

It's getting worse!

Instead of giving evidence, he hides the glove.

Now he too is stuck in the coverup

Now he too is stuck in the coverup

Alice sneaks into her room and quickly gets out of her coat and jumps into bed before discovered. Afterwards she quickly changes and fixes herself up. Instead of her furry coat and dark dress, she changes to something light colored, floral, an innocent dress, young looking, more demure. Trying to recapture what she lost and go in the opposite direction of what she was before.

Meanwhile, downstairs at the house and the smoke shop, everyone is talking about the murder. Alice goes into the telephone booth and searches for the police number, ready to call them and admit everything..but loses her nerve.

I don't know what to do

Her parents notice that Alice doesn’t look well, but she doesn’t say anything, just remains quiet. A dramatic shift from her previous performance of silliness and gaiety; too quiet, contemplation. A real talented actress.

So her act continues to haunt her, and she still sees and hears knife everywhere.

 

Frank comes in and Alice is happy to see him as she realizes he’s the only one for her,  but also afraid. Is he still mad from last night? Is he here to arrest her?Frank says hi and leaves, but then comes back and asks to speak to Alice for  minute.

It's getting worse!

He takes her into the phone booth for privacy and tries to get Alice to tell him what happened, but she can’t talk about, still too traumatized. Frank gives her the glove.

While they are talking, a guy, Mr. Tracey, knocks on door and asks to talk on the phone since they aren’t using it. He is the one from the night before that say Alice enter the building. He lets them know he wants to speak to Scotland Yard, letting them know by his innuendo why he wants to talk to Scotland Yard.

Blackmail!

Blackmail!

Alice is frightened and worried, but Frank quickly asses the situation. The Tracey lets them know what he saw and that he wants to be treated right or else.

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Frank buys him the most expensive cigar, at his request, and then the two make him breakfast. Might not be much, but this guy is planning on milking them for everything!

Meanwhile, back at the police station they are questioning the landlady. They discovered the note that had the artist all aflutter and want to know more about who wrote it. Unfortunately, the landlady is not very observant and the only thing she noticed was that he tilted his head and twisted his hands around. They have her look through the criminal books, until it come up as Mr. Tracey.

Mr. Tracey who at this moment is living like a king. Best cigar, great breakfast, cup of tea…

StirsTea

Frank gets a call from Scotland Yard, catching him up on the latest news of the case. He hangs up the phone and he has an idea. you can sees it in his eyes.

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Frank has Alice lock the door. Then he starts discussing that there was a suspicious looking man with a criminal record hanging around the murdered artist’s place. Alice is freaking out, and doesn’t want to do this, this blackmail. Yeah, I bet you never saw that one coming? Eh? We all knew that Alice would be blackmailed, but did you ever see Frank turning the tables coming? I sure didn’t the first time I saw it.

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 But, lets not get too hasty…Mr. Tracey has one more trick up his sleeve. Tracey says that he will talk, all about Alice. But Frank isn’t worried saying that Tracey’s word is nothing. His plan to sit and wait for the squad car who is on its way now.

The two argue, and Alice freaks out.  The chains of guilt weigh heavy on her and she doesn’t want Tracey pay for her crime. Frank doesn’t really want to listen to her as he is still a angry and hurt over what happened with Alice going off with another guy and that she hasn’t told him anything about what happened.

Tracey tries to convince Frank to let him go. He tells him “I’m not bad I was just in a bad situation…”

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Yeah right you were trying to blackmail that other guy and then you were trying to do it to them.

Some people

Some people

Frank and Tracey’s eyes are locked on each other as the other police officers come. Tracey jumps out the window and the chase is on! Music for this next part as we repeat the opening scene of these guys trying to hunt him down and take him off to jail. when they were looking for him.

Here we have a great repeat of Alice’s earlier trance of seeing the knife everywhere; except instead of a weapon Tracey sees cops everywhere. Cops searching for him!

Meanwhile, for the first time since everything started, Alice actually thinks on what happened and tries to figure out what she should do.

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Tracey takes off to hide in a museum, but doesn’t look at any of the exhibits making him seem super suspicious.

He eventually heads up to the roof, climbing over the famous building. Oh Hitchcock and you love for having people climb the tops of famous architectural creations. I mean there is the Statue of Liberty in Saboteur, Mount Rushmore in North by Northwest, etc.

Tracey ends up killing himself accidentally when the glass breaks on the roof. And that is the end of that. They believed him to be the murderer, the evidence pointed toward him, and with him dead: case closed.

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Oh, but not quite as Alice has decided to turn herself in, leaving Frank a note and heading to the New Scotland Yard.

When she arrives the Officer thinks she is here to see Frank but she lets him know that she is here to see Inspector Walls.  She is sent to his office and walks down the hallway, with certainty that every step brings her closer to doom.

It's getting worse!

Worried and afraid Alice goes in and sees Frank is there with Inspector Walls. Frank tries to stop her as they “solved the murder”. Alice is scared trying to get everything out, but before she can Inspector Walsh is called away, and Frank is to take care of her.

Frank takes Alice aside and tells her that he knows what happened. Alice tells him he doesn’t know, and starts to relay the whole story, how she was attacked and was defending herself.

What! Mark Wahlberg that's weird

Alice and Frank walk out, with a better understanding and a hope for the future. The officer asks if Alice told him who did it, and Frank says yes. The officer jokes that he better watch out she might have his job. They all laugh. Except Alice, she sees the jester painting…

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What a great film for cinema history and to see Hitchcock working out things that he would become known for later.

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To start Horrorfest V from the beginning, go to Who You Gonna Call?: Ghostbusters (1984)

For the previous post, go to It Was the Curse. My Curse: The Cheerleader Murders (2016)

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For more Alfred Hitchcock films, go to We All Go a Little Mad Sometimes: Psycho (1960)

For more films centering on blackmail, go to The Perfect Murder: Dial “M” for Murder (1954)

For more films that center on a painting, go to Murder is My Favorite Crime: Laura (1944)

 

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What Are the 39 Steps?: The 39 Steps (1935)

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Beautiful, mysterious woman pursued by gunmen. Sounds like a spy story. That’s exactly what it is.

This is another one of Alfred Hitchcock’s little known gems, and celebrating its 80th anniversary. I know many of you might be wondering why I chose this film and Jamaica Inn instead of The Birds or Vertigo. I don’t know, I guess I just feel like everyone talks about those films, and no one talks about Hitchcock’s earlier works, which were also fantastic. Maybe not as stylized as he didn’t have money and the technology wasn’t as great; but they are good stories with amazing suspense.

Suspense have to know

So the film is based on a book of the same name by John Buchan. It has been remade in 1959, 1978, and more recently in 2008. I have only seen Hitchcock’s and the 2008 version, but so far this is my favorite.

love it

I first became aware of this film when I bought a DVD for a dollar at Wal-Mart that had 4 Alfred Hitchcock films: Easy Virtue, Sabotage, The 39 Steps, and Jamaica Inn. As I was watching the film, the DVD froze right in the middle, making me unable to know how the film ended.

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Now if you have never had this happen to you in the middle of a Hitchcock film then you are lucky that you don’t know how excruciatingly painful it is to be stopped in the middle. How does it end???? I was going crazy, until my mom told me that she might have a VHS copy of it. I searched every inch of our film cases, until I found it. Watching it and loving it.

Finally something GOOD!

One thing I really like about this film, is that it is one of Hitchcock’s earliest films to have the theme of an ordinary person, caught up in extraordinary circumstances.

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I’m not sure if it is the first as I haven’t seen all of his silent films. They are hard to get copies of.  So let’s get started on the prelude to SaboteurNorth by Northwest, The Man Who Knew Too Much and all those other great regular joes getting a most irregular experience with The 39 Steps. 

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This film was made in Britain, so the opening is very different, not the usual Hollywood or FBI warning type things you see.

The music hall has a special guest today, Mr. Memory a man who knows everything as he commits to memory 50 facts a day. Richard Hannay has decided to come and watch the program with countless others, as it is a full house tonight. And of course, lots of hecklers, as this isn’t a super high class program, we have working and middle class attending. People are questioning Mr. Memory, but the program stalls when some drunks start brawling and create a hoopla. Two shots ring out and everyone flees.

bodysnatchers 1956 runaway

A woman runs into Hannay and he helps get her out of the building. She asks to come home with.

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Richard is a bit wary, but agrees.

The two go to his apartment, his temporary one as he is not permanent here. He just came from Canada but travels all over Canada, England, Scotland, and Ireland for his job.

When they get inside Hannay notices that the girl starts acting strangely. She will stand away from windows and close to the walls. She asks him to move a mirror around, and to close the curtains on the windows. The phone rings and she pleads him not to answer as she is sure “they” are calling for her.

weird

He gives her a drink which she gulps down, clearly frightened about something. She is ready to give him an explanation, but not until they move to the more secure kitchen instead, of which she closes the curtains.

The phone rings again, Hannay compiling to her wishes, but finding the whole thing strange. Even more when she asks for something to eat.

Weird

Weird

She tells him to call her Annabella Smith, it is not her real name, as she changes it wherever she goes. Hannay starts cooking her some eggs, when they hear a thump of the stove being turned on, which frightens Annabella. Hannay assumes it is because of the gunshots they heard earlier, but she tells him she was the one who fired the shots.

Say What

Annabella tells then there were two men there that wanted to kill her. Hannay doesn’t believe her.

Richard Hannay: Beautiful, mysterious woman pursued by gunmen. Sounds like a spy story.

Annabella Smith: That’s exactly what it is.

Annabella tells him everything; she is a secret agent with no country, helping whatever one she chooses. She is here to help England, not because she loves the country but because they pay well. There is an agent that is trying to get vital information on England’s defense out of the country and she is here to stop it.

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Richard doesn’t believe her at all. She then tells him to look down in the street. When he does he sees a man waiting by the light post looking up trying to see into the apartment!

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Hannay believes Annabella is telling the truth. Annabella is scared and knows that Hannay is now stuck in this mess. That is when she decides to give him her secret.

Annabella Smith: Have you ever heard of the 39 Steps?

Richard Hannay: No. What’s that, a pub?

With that smart aleck reply, Annabella decides to tell him no more, it is all up to her she is the only one who can stop them. Hannay asks her why she doesn’t tell the police, but she points out that they will have the same response he did. She also warns him about how clever the spies are, especially the head agent.

Richard Hannay: Who is he and what is his name?

Annabella Smith: He has a thousand names can look like anyone, only thing he cannot hide is a missing finger.

Richard offers Annabella his bed while he takes he couch. She tells him the only other thing she needs is passage to Scotland, there is a man there who can help her. Richard asks if the 39 Steps are in Scotland, and she tells him they can talk more about it tomorrow.

Majorly

Majorly

No, no, no, no, no, no, no. If you have important info you do not wait until later, you give it now. Whenever people say they will save it for later, they die, and then the others have to try and figure out what they meant.

Every time!

Every time!

That night Anna wakes him up screaming throwing a paper at him. And then she’s dead!

AAAAAAAAHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

AAAAAAAAHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And the phone keeps ringing, Hannay wants to answer but doesn’t . He looks out the window and sees the man still waiting outside. He hears everything Anna said in his head again, these men will stop at nothing.

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He grabs the paper from her dead hand and sees it is a map of Scotland, with an area circled. There is only one thing for Hannay to do, get himself to Scotland.

Hannay takes off the next morning, wearing his hat low to hide identity. He waits in the lobby, running into the milkman. He asks to buy his clothes, saying that he is truing to get away from murderer and spy, but the milkman doesn’t believe him. He then tells him that he spent the night with a married woman, and her brother and husband are waiting to beat him up. They milkman feels sorry for him, and they trade clothes, with Hannay running off to the train The Flying Scotsman, heading to Scotland.

Hannay shares a compartment with three guys. One buys a newspaper when they stop at a station. They read that a woman was murdered in West End near the BBC. There is a picture of the owner of that flat. Luckily, in the picture, Hannay has his hat on low, so it is hard to recognize him.

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Richard walks out of the compartment and heads over to the policeman, thinking about turning himself in, as he didn’t do it he should be proved innocent. Right? Wrong! He hears the police to another person say that the evidence they have is enough to hang the man. Hannay decides to forget that, he wants to live.

He goes back to the train but the spy’s henchmen have caught up with him. He runs into another compartment with a woman, stopping to kiss her. The men pass them by.

He tells her he is in need of help, and that these spies are after him. He asks her to lie and say they are together. But when the men come back, she gives him up.

How rude

They question him, are you Hannay and he says no.

Just then the porter comes in and I just love this scene here so much:

Porter: Are you coming in for tea, Sir?

Richard Hannay: I’ll be right along

Instead of going out the regular door, he then goes right through the exiting door even though the train is still going. Afterwards, he crosses into another compartment and runs down the hall. A great scene done by the master. You have to watch it.

He runs through the dining car, stopping at the pet and luggage, with the henchmen close behind. The engine masters are angry as the henchmen pulled the chain to make the train stop, sure that Hannay jumped out. And he did. He is hiding on the bridge barely hanging on waiting for them to all leave.

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The train leaves, reducing Hannay to be to walking about Scotland. He reaches he circled area and stops at a country house, in the area.  He pretends to be looking for work and asks about newcomers to the area, being told of an Englishmen in town.

As night is coming he asks to stay, paying for food and lodging. There is a young girl at the home, and he thinks it is the old man’s daughter, but she is actually his wife.

clueless mybad oops

He sits at the table while she cooks dinner.

The wife is from Glasgow and tells him about how nice it is, and you can clearly she misses it. Hannay tells her that he has never been there but London, Montreal, and more. She wnts to know more about London and he answers her questions.

He asks to read the paper, and sees another article on him.

Later during dinner, while the husband is praying, his wife looks at the paper. She figures it out and makes a face to Hannay, then the two then stare at each other. Her husband is a bit worried that they might have done something, so he makes up an excuse and goes outside watching them through the window.

He's creepin' in your windows. He's starin' at your people.

He’s creepin’ in your windows. He’s starin’ at your people.

That night, the wife hears something, getting up and waking Hannay so he can flee. As she is getting him out, the husband gets up. He thought those looks were about getting it on, and he thinks they are trying to get together now. Although Hannay is fully dressed, but you know how jealousy blinds

Hannay tries to explain, but the wife urges him to leave. He says the police are after him and is willing to pay for the man for silence. He agrees to this, telling his wife to put Hannay in the barn. The wife knows the husband will betray him, so she gives Hannay her husband’s dark  coat and Hannay thanks her, running off.

Along came a spider morgan freeman running

The men walk across the moor searching for Hannay. They are having to crawl through the hills and rocks, running like in Invasion of the Body SnatchersAlthough Hannay has to cross gushing streams and rivers.

Hannay flees to the Englishmen’s house, Professor Jordan, asking to come in saying he is from Annabella Smith. He goes in, and when the men later reach the house and ask the maid if Hannay has come by, she tells them there has been no one for half an hour. She lied to help him? Maybe this really is the guy Annabella wanted to see.

Then again I could be wrong.

Then again I could be wrong.

So Annabella’s name gains him access to the house. Professor Jordan in charge asks him to wait a bit as they are celebrating his daughter’s birthday. He introduces Hannay to his wife. Hannay is then introduced to all these movers and shakers in that area of Scotland. Professor Jordan tells him to look at the view, where they see the men searching the river for Hannay.

h party beaks up and the professor locks them in the room. Hannay tells him that Annabella was murdered that is why he came. Professor Jordan asks him why he came to see him, and Hannay tells him how Annabella was coming to warn him about the foreign agent.

Professor Jordan: Did she tell you what he looked ike?

Richard Hannay: There wasn’t time. She did tell me he was missing a finger.

Professor Jordan: Which hand?

Richard Hannay: [holds up left hand] this one I think.

Professor Jordan: Are you sure she didn’t mean this one? [holds up right hand and reveals he is missing his pinky finger.]

the39steps03handsup

Too bad for Hannay, the professor has been playing him since the beginning. The professor decides tat the only thing to do is kill Hannay. He lives in Scotland as a respected citizen, he can’t have him there starting rumors or saying things against him. Besides he has his information on the defense of England and needs to get it out of the country. He tries to get Hannay to commit suicide, as it is much tidier, butHannay says no so the professor shoots him in the heart.

WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATTTTTTTTTTTTT????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Noooooooooo!!!!!!!

Noooooooooo!!!!!!!

And this was where my DVD died. Is that it? Is he dead???!!!! How could they do that???? Is that all there is????????

Noooooooooo!!!!!!!

Noooooooooo!!!!!!!

In the next scene we see out country couple. The husband is searchiung for his hymn book but can’t find it. It was last in his overcoat. Turns out that it stopped a bullet for Hannay.

39steps-book-550

Hannay goes to the sheriff telling him everything. The Sheriff eagerly listens and says he will happily help him.

Finally something GOOD!

Finally something GOOD!

Turns out all a lie, the Sheriff just playing him until the henchmen, who he believes agents of the government, come to get him. He tells the sherif to call Scotland Yard in London. but he won’t as they men will be taking him there. Yeah right, they are going to kill him. Hannay manages to get away, breaking through a window and joining a Scotland parade to hide. He then quickly ducks into an assembly hall. They are waiting for their speaker who is running late and assume it is him.

OhNOthisisgonnabebad

He sits on the stage he is thrust on. They introduce the professor they are waiting for, and Hanny finds himself on stage.

Richard Hannay: Ladies and gentleman I apologize for my hesitation in rising just now, but to tell you the simple truth I’d entirely failed while listening to the chairman’s flattering description of the next speaker to realize that he was talking about me.

He has no idea what he is supposed to be talking on, and as he is talking, He looks into the crowd and spots the women he used earlier on the train.

He starts asking the crowd what they want to talk about. He grabs onto the topic of the “idle rich” and starts ranting about what he has been through carefully hiding it between political speech.

Richard Hannay: I know what it is to feel lonely and helpless and to have the whole world against me, and those are things that no men or women ought to feel.

It starts a huge momentum as everyone is cheering and wanting to shake his hand, helping him sneak out, but then he is grabbed by the henchmen, lead by the girl.

He asks the girl to help him, telling London the information. The two guys look at each other and decide it is better to be safe than sorry, telling the girl, Pamela, she has to come with them.

They drive to the “police station”, passing it as they are going to another one 40 miles away. We know they aren’t, something Hannay tries to get Pamela to understand that they are taking them to the spy, Professor Jordan, to kill him. They have to stop the car as a huge flock of sheep are in the way. They handcuff Hannay and the girl together, as they go to move the sheep.

parableofsheep

As soon as they are gone, Hannay gets out of there dragging the girl with him. They hide under a bridge, Hannay forcing her to be quiet until the men pass. Lucky it is a foggy night, as the two run through the moors. The girl tries to escape, but Hannay keeps pulling her along.

The two’s dialogue is just amazingly hilarious as they constantly bicker and fight.  Hannay is angry as he has not only told her three times of his innocence, but the men clearly taking them 40 miles “to the police station” and going the wrong way should prove his innocence. But she won’t listen. As she insists he is a murderer Hannay decides to use that to get her to do what he says.

They find an inn, and go inside. Hannay tells the innkeeper that they are man and wife, and he asks for a room and supper. He tells Pamela he has a gun, his finger in his pocket,  which gets her to sign the book for them. She tries to get her away, but he keeps pushing her on with him. Hannay also tells the innkeeper they are a runaway couple, with people after them. People used to elope to Scotland all the time, so the innkeeper doesn’t find it strange but romantic.

Hannay tells Pamela she should take her skirt off as it being wet could make her sick. She refuses, but takes her stockings off, and as they go over to the fireplace, Hannay hangs them up for her.

She doesn’t want to lie on the bed, but Hannay makes her as he is tired, and where he goes she goes. As I said before their conversation are hilarious. He starts making up lies about killing as she thinks he is a murderer. But you can tell they aren’t true as he is being sarcastic. The film is worth watching for the amazing dialogue. I wish I could get a copy of that scene to place here.

I love it

The two go to sleep. The professor/spy leader prepares to move out, and try to take care of this Hannay problem.

Meanwhile, the Pamela has woken up.

the-39-steps-madeleine-carroll-robert-donat-1935

She tries to use the nail file to pick at the lock but when that doesn’t work, squeezes her wrist out, rubbing it raw. She sneaks away and starts downstairs.

She sees the men who she was in the car with and plans to go to them, but overhears them talking on the phone and realizes Hannay is telling the truth about everything, They question the innkeeper about the couple, and before he can answer, his wife comes down and chases them all out.

The girl heads upstairs, feeling sorry for being so mean and cruel to him, when he’s been given a rough break. She goes to the couch and goes to sleep.

The next morning, Hannay finds himself free of the  girl. He is freaked, but sees her on the couch. He asked her why she didn’t leave and she tells him everything she overheard. Hannay starts putting everything together, and is angry that the men didn’t stay the night but left right away. The two rush over to the London Palladium, where the men said they would pick up the “package”.

In London, Pamela goes o Scotland Yard to tell them all the information from Annabella. They don’t really believe it and ask for Mr. Hannay, but she won’t tell him.

No thank youhowaboutno

She rushes out to the Palladium to find Hannay, Scotland Yard detectives behind her. They shut the Palladium down  as they are truing to catch Hannay once and for all.

Through binoculars Hannay sees that the professor is there. Hannay isn’t sure what to do, when he is joined by Pamela. When he hears the tune he has been whistling everywhere. It’s Mr. Memory!

That's it!

That’s it!

He must be the package they are after and want to get rid off. Scotland Yard finds Hannay, arresting him, when he shouts out “What are the 39 Steps? As Mr. Memory answers, the professor shoots him.

The professor tries to flee, but he didn’t know that all the exits were blocked. Hannay asks Mr. Memory about the information, and he reveals that it was a huge job to memorize, plans to build a new ship. After talking a little about them, he dies, and it is all over for Hannay. He is cleared and able to go on his way, now with Pamela in the picture.

TheEnd_Title_2

What a great film. And very under appreciated. You should watch it and love it, as it is amazing.

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1935the-39-steps

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To start Horrorfest IV from the beginning, go to You Cannot Conquer It. It Has Conquered You!: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931)

For the previous post, go to A Modern Mummy: Under Wraps (1997)

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For more Alfred Hitchcock films, go to That Place…There’s Queer Things Goes on in There: Jamaica Inn (1939)

For more films based on books, go to They’re Here Already! You’re Next!: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

The Perfect Murder: Dial “M” for Murder (1954)

Dial M For Murder

Do you really believe in the perfect murder? Mmm, yes, absolutely.

So after years of his absence from my Horrorfest countdowns, I have finally included Alfred Hitchcock in not one, not two, but three posts.

Double double yay

Alfred Hitchcock is my favorite director. He was influential in creating new ways of filming psychological thrillers, he is often credited for creating the true horror genre/slasher film with Psycho (1960), and was just a pure cinematic genius. He is just amazing.

Awesome

Dial “M” For Murder is one of his highly known films (although not as known as Vertigo or Psycho). It has been referenced or parodied in countless films and TV shows. In the ’90s they even remade the film under the title A Perfect Murder. It starred Michael Douglas, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Viggo Mortenson; but it wasn’t nearly as good.

MeanGirls I know right!

This film also started Hitchcock’s filming relationship with Grace Kelly. This film was crucial in her career as it made her stand out not only to Alfred Hitchcock but other directors as well, a huge step to becoming a permanent leading lady. After this film she starred in Hitchcock’s Rear Window and To Catch a Thief. Hitchcock was impressed with her ideas and thoughts on the script in how a woman would act (especially regarding clothing), that after this film he allowed her to make all her own wardrobe decisions. She, like Audrey Hepburn,  quickly became known for her style and class. But that wasn’t the only thing that Hitchcock found attractive, he really liked her and fell for her; but she wouldn’t give him the time of day, (romantically that is). (For more information on Hitchcock and his leading ladies, I strongly suggest the book Spellbound by Beauty by Donald Spoto. It’s an amazing read!) And sadly she had to retire from acting at an early age as she married the Prince of Monaco. However short a career, it was an amazing one.

Mal_huh Whoa Wow

This film also reunited Hitchcock and Robert Cummings, who had starred in an earlier film, Saboteur (1942).  In this film Cummings plays an important role, but a smaller one than his earlier collaboration.

This film is also the only Hitchcock film to ever be shot in 3-D. In the 1950s, 3-D was super popular, so popular that some people came up with the idea of Smell-O-Vision to beat it (I’m serious!). Hitchcock didn’t want to shoot in 3-D, but until the late 1960s, studios had a lot more pull and Warner Bros. wanted it. Hitchcock obliged, although it did cause a few issues for him as he had to rework his known style to incorporate what 3-D was able to accomplish at the time.

So the film is based on the play of the same name Frederick Knott, and he also helped write the screenplay. It is set in England and as  you can guess from the poster, the phone plays a huge role in this film as well. That really seems to be a theme this month. I swear that wasn’t planned.

Oops!

Oops!

Well here we go!

DialM1954-WB-still

So before I start the film, let me give you the background on the characters. Now as you watch the film things are revealed to you, but it’s easier for me to give them at the start.

So we have a couple, Tony Wendice (Ray Milland) and his wife Margot (Grace Kelly). Tony was a huge tennis star and met Margot when he was competing. She comes from a very wealthy family. The two were married and Margot convinced him to give up competing as she didn’t like him being away. He complied and now sells sports equipment. However, as he no longer is the dashing tennis star, she lost interest in him and had an affair with Mark Halliday (Robert Cummings) an American Crime writer.

keanu Whoa

As the film starts out we have Margot and Mark in a very cozy embrace.

BMW Kiss

“Margot Mary Wendice: Let me get you another drink. Mark, before Tony comes I ought to explain something.

Mark Halliday: Yes, I’ve been waiting for that.

Margot Mary Wendice: I haven’t told him anything about us.”

Margot tells Mark that she burned all his letters, except one. That one was stolen by a blackmailer who demanded payment, but he never picked up the money or returned the letter. She is worried that her husband will find out.

Mark has a completely different reaction to the news.

whoCares

He wants them to tell Tony all about the affair so that Margot can get a divorce and the two can marry. Margot doesn’t want to as “she feels bad” about hurting “Tony’s feelings”.

dial-m-for-murder-1954

Now I’m no expert, but if the person doesn’t want to break up the relationship, it seems to me that they want, to quote an old cliché, “have their cake and eat it too.” I think Margot likes the respectability of her marriage and doesn’t want the divorce scandel, but at the same time is heavily intrigued by Mark. And who can blame her? Robert Cummings is a looker.

Saboteur

Photo from Saboteur

That night Tony is introduced to Mark, him being Margot’s “friend”. The two discuss Mark’s profession.

Tony Wendice: How do you go about writing a detective story?

Mark Halliday: Well, you forget detection and concentrate on crime. Crime’s the thing. And then you imagine you’re going to steal something or murder somebody.

Tony Wendice: Oh, is that how you do it? It’s interesting.

Mark Halliday: Yes, I usually put myself in the criminal’s shoes and then I keep asking myself, uh, what do I do next?

Margot Mary Wendice: Do you really believe in the perfect murder?

Mark Halliday: Mmm, yes, absolutely. On paper, that is. And I think I could, uh, plan one better than most people; but I doubt if I could carry it out.

Tony Wendice: Oh? Why not?

Mark Halliday: Well, because in stories things usually turn out the way the author wants them to; and in real life they don’t… always.

Tony Wendice: Hmm.

Mark Halliday: No, I’m afraid my murders would be something like my bridge: I’d make some stupid mistake and never realize it until I found everybody was looking at me.”

Tony invites Mark to join him for a tennis party, and Mark agrees. Its all men, so Margot will be staying home. After a bit more pleasantries Margot and Mark leave to go out “as friends” to a theatre show that Tony didn’t want to see, while Tony stays home to “work” on some stuff.

dial m for murder

After they leave, he calls up an old friend. Swann (going by the name Captain Lesgate) from his old Cambridge days. He brings him there under false pretenses of wanting to purchase a vehicle from him. He then tells Swann that he wants him to murder his wife.

Say What

“Tony Wendice: One thousand pounds in cash.

C.A. Swann: For a murder?

Tony Wendice: For a few minutes work, that’s all it is. And no risk, I guarantee.”

Tony then goes on to tell Swann a story.

dial-m-for-murder-1954-alfred-hitchcock-cummings-milland-plan-murder

Tony only married Margot for her money, and it really injures his pride to see her cheating on him and tossing him over like an old shoe. He followed her one day and discovered the affair.

800__shadow_of_a_doubt_blu-ray_04_intense stare angry upset mad creep

He wanted to kill Mark.

dialMforMurder Killer Hate

He then moved to the idea of murdering his wife. But things changed…

“Tony Wendice: It’s funny to think that just a year ago, I sat in that Knightsbridge Pub actually planning to murder her. And I might have done it, if I hadn’t seen something that changed my mind.

C.A. Swann: Well? What did you see?

Tony Wendice: I saw you.”

Back in the day, Swann was always getting into trouble for all kinds of stuff, and it struck Tony that he could commit the perfect murder. He then began extensive planning. He has been collecting £1000 over the year, under the guise of racetrack betting, etc.; compiling the money for such a purpose.

He even went to great lengths to get one of the letters from Mark and pretended to blackmail her. With Mark back in town he has set up the whole scenario on how to murder her even planning to use Mark as an alibi, as being the husband he will be the first suspect. All he needs is someone to do it for him. He has a lot of information on Swann’s background (as he has been tracking him) and uses it to blackmail him into completing his murderous plot. And he has to do it tomorrow.

He reveals his perfect plan.

“Tony Wendice: At exactly three minutes to eleven, you’ll enter the house through the street door. You’ll find the key to this door under the stair carpet here.

C.A. Swann: The fifth step?

Tony Wendice: That’s the one. Go straight to the window, and hide behind the curtains. At exactly eleven o’clock, I shall go to the telephone in the hotel to call my boss. I shall dial the wrong number. This number. That’s all I shall do.”

His wife will answer the phone, and then Swann can strangle her and leave through the french windows.

perfect plan

Swann agrees to the plot as he feels he has no other choice in the matter. Tony is estatic as everything seems to be going along perfectly.

thats-how-its-done

But then things start falling apart. Margot doesn’t want to stay home. She is thinking of going out to dinner and seeing a movie. Mark thinks it’s a great idea but Tony convinces her to stay home.

“Margot Mary Wendice: Don’t make me stay home. You know how I hate doing nothing.

Tony Wendice: Doing nothing? Why there are hundreds of things you can do. Have you written to Peggy, thanking her for the weekend? And what about those clippings? It’s an ideal opportunity.

Margot Mary Wendice: Well I like that. You two go gallivanting while I stay home and do those boring clippings.”

dial M for murder

Before Tony leaves, he stills Margot’s key from her bag and puts it in the marked hiding place. Keeping his key in his pocket, he and Mark leave for the party.

Back at the home, Margot has been working hard on her scrapbooking. She eventually goes to bed, putting everything away…at least almost everything. She actually forgets the scissors and leaves them by the phone.

That night everything starts being put into motion. Swann enters the place the same way that Tony planned it out. He leaves the key under the stair and hides behind the curtains waiting for the phone.

However, back at the party, things aren’t quite going as planned.

Stupid, stupid

Stupid, stupid

Tony’s watch stops and he has to ask for the time, finding out that it is actually past 11:00.

What!

He hurries to the pay phone and makes the call, hoping that everything else goes accordingly. Margot gets up to answer the phone. As she is talking, Swann reaches out to strangle her.

dial-m for murder strangle grace kelly

But instead of overpowering her like he’s supposed to, Margot ends up getting him. As the two are struggling, she reaches for something…anything to stop him. She ends up grabbing the scissors and stabbing him with them, completely killing him.

Mal_huh Whoa Wow

Margot is a mess and is freakin’ out. I can’t blame her, someone is trying to murder you and you kill them.

I don't know what to do

Tony tells her to touch nothing and wait for him. He’s on his way over.

As he heads over Tony freaks out. His plans have failed. But then something comes to him. A new plan, a way to fix things.

Its-so-crazy it just mightwork

He decides to make it look like Swann was blackmailing Margot and that she murdered him rather than self-defense. He calls the police and sends Margot to bed. He then plants Mark’s letter in Swann’s coat, takes the key and puts it back in Margot’s handbag, and burns the scarf that Swann was going to use, replacing it with Margot’s stocking. He then tells Margot to make sure she doesn’t tell the police that he told her not to call the police. He’s worried how it might make her look. However, Tony is plotting very well, and the police begin to strongly suspect her.

Everyone's a suspect!

Hmm…

The police figure out that Swann did not come through the French Windows. He must have come through the hall, as it rained the night before. If he had come through the garden there would be muddy footprints. Inspector Hubbard (John Williams) strongly suspects Margot and believes her to be the killer. We cut to a scene showing Margot on trial amd sentenced to be hanged.

perfect plan

Except thing are not quite perfect.  There are quite a few things Tony didn’t plan. One of which was getting rid of the money. As Tony mentioned, he’s been drawing a lot of money out of his bank every week, pretending to spend it on racehorses. He had planned to give it to Swann, but now is at a loss. He can’t put it back in the bank as there would be too many questions. He can’t keep it, if the police find it, it’s all over for him.

I don't know what to do

So he tries to spend it all. Unbeknowest to him, the police are watching him very carefully. And they notice this.

Months later, on the night before Margot’s execution,  Mark comes to speak to Tony. He tells him that instead of letting Margot die, he should say that he tried to murder her. That he hired Swann. This will give him some jail time but save Margot’s life. Tony does not want to do that.

Dial M for murder mark, tony, inspector hubble

Inspector Hubbard comes back to the flat to question Tony some more about the money he’s been spending. Mark hears this and starts searching, finding the briefcase full of money.

What!

Tony thinks of a lie quickly and says that this was the money Margot had to give to Swann, but then changed her mind and killed him. The Inspector listens and takes his comment as fact…or does he?

Everyone's a suspect!

Hmm…

Now, if Tony was really smart he would have made up a different lie. I would have said that I realized there was nothing between me and Margot and was planning on leaving her. However, I knew that I wouldn’t get much money in the divorce (he signed a prenup), so I’ve been taking some money out, bit by bit. When the murder happened, I knew it would come to light and was afraid that it might put me in a bad light or under suspicion. I mean its not the perfect excuse, but at least it shows he wasn’t going to kill her as why remove money when he was planning on getting it all. But he doesn’t think that way.

princess Bride Victim to classic blunder Vizzini

This makes the inspector highly suspicious of Tony and he steals the key from Margot’s purse, intent on sneaking in and investigating.

hold-up-wait-a-minute-let-me-put-some-pimpin-in-it

Hold on, that is illegal. He doesn’t have a search warrant or permission to be searching the house. Anything he finds will be immaterial and thrown out of court. I looked it up and  this is what it said:

By the laws of England, every invasion of private property, be it ever so minute, is a trespass.No man can set his foot upon my ground without my license, but he is liable to an action, though the damage be nothing; which is proved by every declaration in trespass, where the defendant is called upon to answer for bruising the grass and even treading upon the soil. If he admits the fact, he is bound to show by way of justification, that some positive law has empowered or excused him. The justification is submitted to the judges, who are to look into the books; and if such a justification can be maintained by the text of the statute law, or by the principles of common law. If no excuse can be found or produced, the silence of the books is an authority against the defendant, and the plaintiff must have judgment.

So technically, anything he finds can not be used in a court of law. That’s it, Tony is allowed to go free.

TheEnd_Title_2

But of course this is a movie, and things go differently. Inspector Hubble discovers that the key in the purse does not work on the front door. He instead finds it under the stair carpet. This gives him the great idea of creating a little trick to discover if Tony is the true killer.

John Williams (Chief Inspector Hubbard) Dial M for Murder (1954)

The Inspector visits Tony and steals his raincoat, leaving his own, therefore taking Tony’s key. He calls the station and asks them to release Margot. She immediately returns home, but finds out that her key won’t work. Hubbard watches her and discovers that she does not know the key is under the stairs. The Inspector let’s her in and gets a policeman to take the bag back to the station. They then begin to wait for Tony.

perfect plan

Tony comes home from his errands and finds that he can’t get inside. His coat belongs to Inspector Hubble and he has the wrong key. When Tony discovers his key doesn’t fit, he goes down to the station to get Margot’s bag. When that key doesn’t fit, he looks under under the stairs and finds the key, giving himself away.

dun-dun-duuuun

Tony enters and figures out they caught him. Being the gentleman he is, he doesn’t fight them. He knows when he has been defeated.

Tony Wendice: [pouring a drink] As you said Mark, it might work out on paper, but congratulations, Inspector. Oh, by the way… How about you, Margot?

Margot Mary Wendice: Yes, I could do with something.

Tony Wendice: Mark?

Mark Halliday: So could I.

Tony Wendice: I suppose you’re still on duty, Inspector.

TheEnd_Title_2

It;s a great movie, despite the small legality issue, but otherwise an amazing film. I definitely recommend it.

1954dialmformurder

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To start Horrorfest III from the beginning, go to Even a Man Pure of Heart

For the previous post, go to What Have We Done to Each Other?

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For more on Dial “M” for Murder, go to Part X: The Movie List That Would Not Die

For more on Alfred Hitchcock, go to The Past of a Man

For more on blackmail, go to Secrets are Great, Unless You Get Caught

For more films based on a play, go to Murder is My Favorite Crime