In London, wealthy Margot Mary Wendice had a brief love affair with the American writer Mark Halliday while her husband and professional tennis player Tony Wendice was on a tennis tour. Tony quits playing to dedicate to his wife and finds a regular job. She decides to give him a second chance for their marriage. When Mark arrives from America to visit the couple, Margot tells him that she had destroyed all his letters but one that was stolen. Subsequently she was blackmailed, but she had never retrieved the stolen letter. Tony arrives home, claims that he needs to work and asks Margot to go with Mark to the theater. Meanwhile Tony calls Captain Lesgate (aka Charles Alexander Swann who studied with him at college) and blackmails him to murder his wife, so that he can inherit her fortune. But there is no perfect crime, and things do not work as planned.Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Frederick Knott's first version of this story was as a play for television, first aired by the BBC in London in 1952. It was a huge success, and Knott was quickly persuaded to adapt it for the stage. The stage version was not expected to be more than a minor London success and was very modestly budgeted; the British actors were actually asked to wear their own clothes rather than specially-made costumes. In the meantime, the film rights had been bought by Sir Alexander Korda for only £1000; he never intended to produce it as a film, but sold the rights after the stage version had proved a substantial hit in both London and New York. His sale price is usually held to have been about £20,000, which rather annoyed Frederick Knott. See more »
When Swann arrives at Wendice's flat, Wendice tells him they went to the same college but that Swann wouldn't recognize him because he (Wendice) had only arrived in Swann's last year. But immediately afterward Wendice takes the reunion dinner photo from his wall, showing Swann sitting right beside Wendice. Leaving aside the matter of why Swann and Wendice would be attending the same reunion since they had graduated years apart, Swann never contradicts Wendice's assertion that they hadn't seen one another in the 20 years since college. See more »
What gets me about this film every time I see it is just how simple it is. The witty urbanity of the dialogue goes without saying (hem), the acting is stagily impeccable, and the direction by Hitchcock is limited by the small sets but masterful for all that.
Cold Ray Milland plans and sets up the murder of his demure but faithless wife Grace Kelly by a virtual stranger who is urged on by the stick of exposure of his misdeeds and the carrot of GBP1,000 in used notes. Of course all of his convoluted plans go horribly or thankfully wrong, depending on your point of view, leading to an even more convoluted revised plan. When first seen when young I wasted my time because I wasn't paying attention at the critical moment so missed the point and didn't get it: the key is how did the baddie get into the apartment? It's incredibly verbose, being from a stage play after all and at times it seems nothing more than a radio show with pictures. The long scene setting and verbal sparring by Milland and Anthony Dawson is superb to hear - it's fascinating for its relentless poetry, and of displaying a now-dead world. I could never understand the attraction of 3D movies, least of all with this particular attempt, or why Kelly was continually uglified by the Hollywood machine when she never looked lovelier than in here when she was playing stressed out throughout.
I wonder if Hitch remembered the jokey murder scene he did in 1930 in Elstree Calling when Jameson Thomas realised he was murdering in the wrong apartment? Turn that key you have and go in, it's a remarkably literate film and as intricate inside as any lock.
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