Blind Spot 2016: DIAL M FOR MURDER


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Caught in a Love-Hate Triangle.

For my first entry in the Blind Spot Series, I watched Alfred Hitchcock’s 1954 film, Dial M for Murder, starring Ray Milland, Grace Kelly, and Robert Cummings. I’ve been on  something of a Hitchcock kick lately, with recent viewings of Strangers on a Train, Vertigo, and Kent Jones’s Hitchcock/Truffaut.

This film is definitely what I would call second-tier Hitchcock, which is not to say that it is a bad picture by any means. The movie is adapted from a stage play by Frederick Knott, who I recently learned was also the writer of the play Wait Until Dark, which was made into a fantastic Audrey Hepburn movie in 1967.

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Kurosawa and Nakadai: Creator and Chameleon


In Akira Kurosawa’s memoir, Something Like an Autobiography, he does not mention the actor Tatsuya Nakadai. This is not a slight, however, when you consider that the narrative of the memoir concludes around the time of Rashōmon (released in 1950). In the epilogue to the book, Kurosawa explains:

I am a maker of films; films are my true medium. I think to learn what became of me after Rashōmon the most reasonable procedure would be to look for me in the characters in the films I made after Rashōmon. Although human beings are incapable of talking about themselves with total honesty, it is much harder to avoid the truth while pretending to be other people. They often reveal much about themselves in a very straightforward way. I am certain that I did. There is nothing that says more about a creator than the work itself.

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Over the holidays, I got to see a few good films, but two stood out for their surprising thematic resonance. One was a first time viewing for me, and the other was the first viewing in a very long time. The films were Pete Docter’s Inside Out (2015) and Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958).

One, a family fantasy-comedy told through bright computer animation, and the other a dour suspense-thriller dealing with infidelity and murder. Though the two works are in many ways as disparate as any two films can be, they both offer acute insights into the ways that emotions shape  our interactions with others, our perceptions of reality, our memories, and our deepest sense of self.

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