Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Film Pairing — Blondes on Telephones

There’s something going on here. Something strange. We have the Alfred Hitchcock classic, Dial M for Murder (1954), starring Ray Milland, Grace Kelly and Robert Cummings. Talented actor John Williams plays the inspector. Now replace Milland with Rex Harrison, Kelly with Doris Day and Cummings with John Gavin and you have Midnight Lace (1960). You don’t need to replace John Williams because he is THE inspector in both films. And British actor Anthony Dawson, known for playing sinister roles, appears in both films as well, doing his sinister thing.

What is one to think? Is Midnight Lace a remake? Certainly not officially. But there was a certain déjà vu in the marketing. And while there are plot differences, there aren’t many. It’s clear to the world that Dial M for Murder is not only the standard, it was the original. One might charitably call Midnight Lace a variation on a theme. Even so, if you can find it (beware, the current DVD won’t play on most American and Canadian players), the movie is worthwhile despite and, to some extent, because of the similarities. And Hitchcock’s Dial didn’t have Myrna Loy.

An added note: Oscar Levant once said that Doris Day was bad for his diabetes. And I read somewhere that some viewers were willing to kill her themselves. But whether the plot was ripped off or not, the casting director did his or her job well. And that includes Doris Day. Her trademark sweetness is right for the part.

Accompanying drink: Your choice — a Tom Collins, or as an antidote, a whiskey sour.


Kevin Burton Smith said...

Great stuff, Ronald! I'm going to have to keep an eye on this feature.

Ronald Tierney said...

Thanks, coming from an expert (Thrilling Detective web site and blog), this means a great deal.