Hitchcock: The Perfect Crime
Thursday, July 20, 2023, 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm
Instructor: Jacob Mazer, Director of Programs and Education, BMFI
At first glance, Dial M for Murder (1954) may seem like an unassuming entry in Alfred Hitchcock’s filmography. Adapted from Frederick Knott’s play about a slimy tennis player plotting the murder of his wealthy, adulterous wife, it was released during the same year—and overshadowed by—the better-known Rear Window. Discussions of the film’s significance tend to focus on Grace Kelly’s participation (this being her first role for Hitchcock) or on its original 3-D release. The director himself claimed his work on the film had been “coasting, playing it safe.”
But just because Hitchcock underrates the work doesn’t mean we should. To the contrary, a considered examination reveals Dial M for Murder as the work of a master craftsman, with much going on beneath its deceptively simple surface. We’ll begin this seminar by placing Dial M for Murder in its context—both within the direction of Hitchcock’s work during the 1950s and in the broader Hollywood landscape. Then we’ll consider some of the signature themes and techniques that recur through the director’s work—the notion of the artistic crime, the double, the use of objects, the “god’s eye view” shot, and more—and use these as tools to unlock the film’s deeper meanings and implications. Dial M for Murder, as we’ll discover, stands as a superb example of Hitchcock’s artistry and obsessions.
Are you interested in “just” seeing this movie? Visit the public screening page here.
Cinema Classics Seminars offer an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about some of the true classics of world cinema. All students receive an introductory lecture before the film and a guided discussion after the film. In addition, those in attendance receive a ticket to see it on the big screen, as well as popcorn and a drink. Please note: the screening associated with this seminar will be open to the public, as well.
Please email BMFI Programs and Education Coordinator Jill Malcolm with any questions.
$25 for members, $35 for non-members
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June – August 2023