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A Perfect Murder (1998)

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A wealthy Wall Street speculator discovers that his wife has a lover. He investigates him and uses the carrot and stick to make him murder his wife. Planned to detail, it seems like a perfect murder.

Director:

Andrew Davis

Writers:

Frederick Knott (play), Patrick Smith Kelly (screenplay)
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4,628 ( 345)
2 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Michael Douglas ... Steven Taylor
Gwyneth Paltrow ... Emily Bradford Taylor
Viggo Mortensen ... David Shaw
David Suchet ... Mohamed Karaman
Sarita Choudhury ... Raquel Martinez
Michael P. Moran Michael P. Moran ... Bobby Fain
Novella Nelson ... Ambassador Alice Wills
Constance Towers ... Sandra Bradford
Will Lyman ... Jason Gates
Maeve McGuire Maeve McGuire ... Ann Gates
Stephen Singer ... Effete Man at Met
Laurinda Barrett Laurinda Barrett ... Met Woman #1
Aideen O'Kelly Aideen O'Kelly ... Met Woman #2
Reed Birney ... Merchant Prince #1
Robert Vincent Smith ... Merchant Prince #2
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Storyline

Millionaire industrialist Steven Taylor is a man who has everything but what he craves most: the love and fidelity of his wife. A hugely successful player in the New York financial world, he considers her to be his most treasured acquisition. But she needs more than simply the role of dazzling accessory. Brilliant in her own right, she works at the U.N. and is involved with a struggling artist who fulfills her emotional needs. When her husband discovers her indiscretion, he sets out to commit the perfect murder and inherit her considerable trust fund in the bargain. Written by [ dark angel grace ]

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Husband. Wife. Lover. A Dangerous Affair. A Perfect Murder. See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violence, sexuality and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Warner Bros.

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Arabic

Release Date:

5 June 1998 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Dial M for Murder See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$60,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$16,615,704, 7 June 1998, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$67,638,368

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$128,038,368
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

To calm her and create a certain atmosphere of intimacy before filming the lovemaking scenes, Viggo Mortensen sang a couple of love songs to Gwyneth Paltrow that he learned in Argentina when he was young. In an interview he said, "I don't know if that ended up scaring her instead." See more »

Goofs

While Karaman is questioning Steven in the kitchen, he points out that Steven's footprints are visible all around the body in the blood. We also have seen that when Emily left the kitchen she left a trail of bloody footprints. However, when Steven runs to the door to fix the lock, he miraculously leaves no bloody prints on the floor. See more »

Quotes

Emily: [referring to his weekly card game] I don't want you to go tonight
Steven: what's wrong?
Emily: I need to talk to you
Steven: it's too late, they'll never get anyone to fill in, besides I beat them pretty bad last week, they're all going to want their money back.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The DVD includes alternate endings in which the protagonists behave differently prior to the final denouement. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Be Kind Rewind (2008) See more »

Soundtracks

Park Jam
Written and Performed by Richard Davis
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User Reviews

 
Starts promisingly...falls apart in the final third
23 May 2011 | by smerphSee all my reviews

It may be more credible to cite Psycho or Vertigo as your favourite Hitchcock, but my particular preference has always been Dial M for Murder. Sure, it's dated far more than a lot of Hitch's films, but it's still a tightly written and intelligent movie; Ray Milland playing a gentlemanly yet murderous businessman who plots to have his wife killed when he discovers she's having an affair and plans to leave him.

A Perfect Murder, the 1998 remake, is a very different beast with different motivations and some major changes to how the plot plays out. This time, it's Michael Douglas whose wife (Gwyneth Paltrow) is playing away from home but, in a move from the source material, it's her ex-con lover who is hired to do the murder.

Despite this deviation, the machinations of the murder plot from the original film are near-identical. A phone call home, a missing key, the supposed disturbed robbery, the would-be killer killed in self-defence...that's all Dial M. And, because of this, the first third of the film bounces along at a great pace.

Into Act 2 and things are still promising with the introduction of David Suchet as the investigating detective. Suchet is a wonderful actor and his first scene holds much potential and evokes memories of John Williams's memorable turn as Detective Hubbard in Dial M. Suchet's Detective Karaman seems smart as a tack and asks awkward questions of our protagonists. And then, inexplicably, the character all but vanishes from the movie without doing any further detecting. In fact, the big reveal of the murder is actually just down to the wife simply snooping through her husband's clumsily-hidden evidence, rather than anyone actually pursuing a line of enquiry.

As a result, the final third is really just our three main characters lying and and cheating. While it's fun to watch Douglas worm his way out of things by repeatedly changing his story, it all leads to a frankly barmy climax where the bodies start to pile up.

I guess A Perfect Murder is more interested in its characters than the tightly woven plot of Dial M, but the original film had charm that this sorely lacks. While Dial M may not seem realistic in its characters' motivations or the generally breezy tone, it's by far the better movie.


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