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The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags are used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.
For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for Dial M for Murder can be found here.
After learning that his wife Margot (Grace Kelly) had a brief affair with American mystery writer Mark Halliday (Robert Cummings), ex-tennis pro Tony Wendice (Ray Milland) decides to murder her. He blackmails Charles Alexander Swann (Anthony Dawson), an old college associate with a shady past now calling himself Captain Lesgate, to strangle Margot, but all his plans go up in smoke when she successfully defends herself and ends up killing Swann.
Dial M for Murder is based on a play of the same title written by English playwright Frederick Knott [1916-2002].
Other than the fact that "murder" starts with "M", the Wendices' telephone number begins with "M", as can be seen when Tony dials home to awaken Margot so that her murder will commence.
Tony put it there after he had sent Margot to bed, burned the scarf, and planted the silk stocking. Remember that it was Tony all along who had stolen the letter out of Margot's bag and ever since he read it, he wanted to kill her. Tony's original plan was to have Margot killed by. That failed. So he quickly had to figure out a plan to have her killed some other way. He decided to have her executed by the State. In order to do this, he needed to make it look like Margot had not killed Swann in self-defense but had actually murdered him deliberately. For the police to believe that, Tony had to arrange things to make it look like Margot had the perfect motive to kill Swann. Tony figured that if the police found that love letter in Swann's pocket, they would assume that Swann had come to the house that night to blackmail Margot and that she had reacted by murdering him in cold blood.
When Tony came home and found Swann dead, he needed to concoct a new plan. His new plan revolved around framing his wife for the murder. By substituting the stockings for the scarf, he thought it would look like Margot strangled herself in order to get the marks on her neck.
When Margot first tells Mark about the blackmail notes, he asks to see them and then says they're "printed all in caps—anyone could have written them". Presumably, there's nothing tellingly distinctive about them.
On the day before she is to be executed, Margot is suddenly released from prison and returned home while Mark and Chief Inspector Hubbard (John Williams) wait in the apartment. When the latchkey in Margot's handbag fails to open the front door, she goes round to the back and enters through the garden, proving to Hubbard that she is unaware of the key kidden under the carpet on the stairs in the hallway. While Detective Pearson (Patrick Allen) returns Margot's handbag to the police station, Hubbard explains to Margot how he appropriated the correct latchkey from the pocket of Tony's raincoat. Suddenly, Tony comes home but, finding no latchkey in his raincoat pocket, returns to the police station to pick up Margot's handbag. Shortly thereafter, Tony returns home with Margot's handbag but discovers that her latchkey doesn't work either. Tony is about to give up and walk away when he realizes that Margot's key must still be under the carpet. He fishes it out and lets himself into the apartment, where he is met by Mark, Margot, and Inspector Hubbard. He tries to flee, but Detective Williams (George Leigh) blocks his way. In the final scene, Tony admits to his defeat and fixes drinks for himself, Mark, and Margot, while Hubbard phones Scotland Yard.
It was Swann's own latchkey. After Margot killed Swann, Tony had taken the latchkey in Swann's pocket, thinking it was Margot's key, and returned it to her purse. His mistake was thinking that Swann had pocketed Margot's key after opening the door, planning to replace it under the carpet when he left. In actuality, Swann had replaced the key *before* entering the apartment.
Probably when he figured out the dilemma regarding the key to the Wendices' apartment. Right from the start, he was bothered by the lack of a latchkey on Swann's body, making him question how Swann got into the apartment. When he found out that the key in Margo's purse did not fit the door of their apartment, his wheels began to turn. He searched the hallway and found the key still under the carpet on the stairs. His next move was to find out who knew it was there—Margot or Tony.
Alfred Hitchcock has a cameo in almost all of his movies. Since Dial M for Murder is based on a play and takes place mainly in a single apartment, Hitchcock's cameo is not in the flesh. He can be seen, about 13 minutes into the film, on the left side of a black-and-white photograph hanging on the wall. He is sitting at a white-clothed banquet table across from Tony Wendice at a class reunion. Tony takes the photo off the wall and shows it to Swann.
Yes, the film was shot in stereoscopic 3D, alhough it has been mostly shown in 2D. It is Alfred Hitchcock's only attempt at 3D.
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