Murder on call

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German title Murder on call
Original title Dial M for Murder
When calling Mord Logo 001.svg
Country of production United States
original language English
Publishing year 1954
length 101 minutes
Age rating FSK 12 (video)
FSK 16
Director Alfred Hitchcock
script Frederick Knott
production Alfred Hitchcock
for Warner Bros.
music Dimitri Tiomkin
camera Robert Burks
cut Rudi Fehr

When Calling Mord (Original Title: Dial M for Murder ) is an American thriller by Alfred Hitchcock from 1954. The screenplay was written by Frederick Knott, who had previously enjoyed great success with the Broadway play of the same name . As in Hitchcock's films Cocktail for a Corpse and The Window to the Courtyard , a concentrate of the stage version was transferred to the film screen. With a few exceptions, the action takes place in a single apartment.


Former tennis pro Tony Wendice has a problem: his wealthy wife Margot has apparently entered into a relationship with crime writer Mark Halliday. After stealing Margot's handbag and reading a love letter from Mark inside, he is certain: he must get rid of his wife in order to get at her fortune. Without their money, he couldn't finance his lavish lifestyle.

He cleverly manipulates his former fellow student, the impostor Charles Swann, in order to get him to murder his wife while he himself goes to a club with his rival and thus has a perfect alibi .

He hides his wife's apartment key in the stairwell so Swann can unlock the door. He tells him to always hide the key in the same place when leaving the apartment.

Swann enters the apartment unnoticed at the appointed time. Tony calls home from the club to get his wife on the phone. When she answers, Swann tries to strangle her with a scarf. Margot struggles doggedly and manages to stab Swann with scissors. Tony overheard everything on the phone. When his wife answers the phone again, he realizes that something has gone wrong.

Tony now has to intervene quickly. He drives home and feverishly thinks about a new plan. Before the police even come, he takes the key that he finds on Swann's body and puts it unnoticed in his wife's handbag. He burns the scarf Swann used to murder his wife in the fireplace. Then he cleverly forged some evidence to arouse the suspicion in the police that Margot had deliberately killed Swann because she was blackmailed by him. Before the police arrive, Tony puts Mark's love letter in the dead Swann's suit pocket. When he recruited the murderer, he made sure that his fingerprints could be found on it. Since there are no traces of a violent intrusion by the perpetrator either, it looks as if Margot let him into the apartment herself and stabbed him with the love letter because of the blackmail .

Tony appears to be defending his wife. He objects that he overheard everything on the phone. Finally, he even accuses the police of falsifying evidence. He also speculates that no one will believe him anyway and that he will be mistaken for the desperate husband who is fighting for his wife's life. In fact, Margot is arrested and sentenced to death in the subsequent trial . It seems like Tony committed the perfect crime.

Mark appears desperate to Tony the day before the execution to persuade him to take the crime on himself. He suggests telling the police that Tony tried to get Swann to murder Margot. Tony would only get a couple of years in prison but save Margot's life. Tony doesn't show that this is exactly what happened, and replies that the police are unlikely to believe him.

When Scotland Yard's Inspector Hubbard rings the doorbell during the conversation , Mark is hiding in the bedroom and comes across a briefcase full of money. He now realizes that he was right with his story and that the money was intended to pay for the contract killing. He confronts Tony and the inspector with the money. But again Tony can wriggle out by claiming that Margot wanted to pay the blackmailer and that he withheld the money so as not to incriminate his wife in court. The inspector is apparently satisfied with it.

In truth, however, he has long suspected that something is wrong with Tony's story, especially since he discovered that Tony has been spending an unusually large amount of money lately. When the inspector tried to get into the apartment with the key from Margot's purse, he noticed that it did not fit. It was Swann's own apartment key. Hubbard had also wondered early on that the dead man had no key with him at all. When Tony took it from the dead Swann and put it in Margot's pocket, he believed it was his wife's key that Swann had brought into the apartment. He hadn't taken into account that Swann had put the key back in the hiding place immediately after unlocking it, where it is still lying.

The inspector has meanwhile discovered the hiding place of the key and is now putting the key to the test: In Tony's absence, Margot is taken from prison and fails to unlock the apartment with the key from her handbag, since it is Swann's apartment key. She rings the doorbell and thus proves her innocence. Tony, on the other hand, pulls out the apartment key from the hiding place in the stairwell when he returns. When he uses it to unlock the apartment door, his wife, Mark and the police inspector are waiting for him there. He convicted himself.


When Calling Murder deals with a favorite topic of Hitchcock - the question of the feasibility of the perfect murder (see also The Stranger on the Train and Cocktail for a Corpse ). Although the film was a huge hit with audiences, Hitchcock himself described it as a petty casual job. He completed filming in just 36 days. Like some of Hitchcock's other films, The Call of Murder is largely limited to a single location, with the exception of a few short scenes, the whole action takes place in the couple's drawing room. According to his own statement, Hitchcock wanted to emphasize the theatrical aspects of the actual stage play.

Hitchcock made sure that the dresses Grace Kelly designed by Moss Mabry also bring a psychological aspect: In the very first scene with her husband, Grace Kelly wears a high-necked white dress that symbolizes purity and innocence. In the scene with her lover, she then wears a red, sexy and sensual dress. After killing the intruder, she wears an unadorned gray dress that evokes repentance. This was Hitchcock's first collaboration with Grace Kelly, which subsequently appeared in his films Das Fenster zum Hof (1954) and Above the Roofs of Nice (1955). John Williams had previously played the role of police inspector in Frederick Knott's Dial M for Murder on Broadway and won a Tony Award for it.

In On Call Murder , Hitchcock waived a personal cameo . However, he can be seen in the 13th minute of the film in the old black and white photo of a gentlemen's meeting at the table, which shows Tony Wendice at the meeting on the Swann murder plot.

The film was released in theaters in the Federal Republic of Germany on December 3, 1954. On German television, Bei Call Mord was first shown on December 6, 1971 from 9:00 p.m. on ZDF .

3D technology

When Called Murder is the only Hitchcock film that was shot in "3-D Naturalvision" ( polarization process ). This is particularly noticeable through the camera positions and through image sections in which objects in the foreground provide depth. Hitchcock, who didn't like this technique very much, was pushed by Warner Bros. to shoot the film in 3-D . When the film was finished, however, the 3-D euphoria had subsided and, at least in Europe, only the 2-D version was released in cinemas.

To avoid the problem of projecting 3D films (projectors running absolutely synchronously, every 20 minutes break due to role changes), the production company used the side-by-side anamorphic process for the first time . For this purpose, the left and right partial films were horizontally compressed in half with an anamorphic lens and copied next to one another onto a single 35 mm film. During playback (with only one projector), both partial images are brought into congruence on the screen by means of a special combination of devices (anamorphic, image splitter [adjustment via movable mirror] and polarization filter ). The only other film that was copied using this process is Professor Bondi's Cabinet . It was not until 1980 that the 3-D version of When Calling Murder was published again and was also shown in the polarized version at the “World 3D-Film Expo 2003”. On August 28, 2010, the television station Arte broadcast the film in the three-dimensional version using the color anaglyph method . In 2013, the three-dimensional version of the film was shown at the Berlinale .


The German dubbed version was produced by Deutsche Mondial Film Berlin. The speakers were:

role actor Voice actor
Margot Wendice Grace Kelly Marianne Kehlau
Tony Wendice Ray Milland Hans Nielsen
Charles Alexander Swann Anthony Dawson Friedrich Joloff
Mark Halliday Robert Cummings Paul Edwin Roth
Chief Inspector Hubbard John Williams Curt Ackermann


In 1955, director Alfred Hitchcock was nominated for best director of the year by the Directors Guild of America for his work on Murder on the Call and The Window to the Courtyard . However, the award went to the later Oscar winner Elia Kazan ( Fist in the Neck ) . With a total of eight nominations, Hitchcock was not recognized by the Directors Guild once for a directorial achievement and was only honored in 1968 with a prize for his life's work. Leading actress Grace Kelly was nominated for her role as a murder suspect, among other things for best foreign actress for the British Film Academy Award ; But she was more successful at this time with the melodrama A Girl from the Country and was awarded a Golden Globe and an Oscar in 1955 .


  • "Colored crime drama, elevated by Alfred Hitchcock to a masterpiece of astutely calculated tension." - 6000 films. Critical notes from the cinema years 1945 to 1958 . Handbook V of the Catholic Film Critics, 3rd edition, Verlag Haus Altenberg, Düsseldorf 1963, p. 40
  • “Precisely timed chamber play.” (Rating: 3 stars = very good) - Adolf Heinzlmeier and Berndt Schulz in the lexicon “Films on TV” (extended new edition). Rasch and Röhring, Hamburg 1990, ISBN 3-89136-392-3 , p. 78
  • Frankfurter Rundschau : "The film is one of the most beautiful and exciting works by the horror master."

Further films and adaptations

In 1959 the plot was filmed again in a German television film of the same name .

In 1981, another television film was made in the USA, directed by Boris Sagl, as a remake. The main roles were Angie Dickinson as Margot Wendice, Christopher Plummer as Tony Wendice, Anthony Quayle as Inspector Hubbard and Michael Parks as Max Halliday.

Andrew Davis ' 1998 film A Perfect Murder, starring Michael Douglas , Gwyneth Paltrow and Viggo Mortensen , is also based, albeit freely, on the play Dial M for Murder . Otherwise, there are hardly any similarities between the two films.


  • Frederick Knott: If you call - murder. A detective piece in three acts (OT: Dial M For Murder) . German by Rudolf Schneider-Schelde. Strassegg, Bayerisch-Gmain o. J. [stage manuscript]
  • Robert A. Harris, Michael S. Lasky, eds. Joe Hembus: Alfred Hitchcock and his films (OT: The Films of Alfred Hitchcock) . Citadel film book from Goldmann, Munich 1976, ISBN 3-442-10201-4

Individual evidence

  1. The IMDb gives both FSK 12 and FSK 16 as age ratings , the DVDs from 2004 and 2010 only give FSK 12.
  2. Dial M for Murder at Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved April 4, 2018 .
  3. 7 Things You Didn't Know About Dial M For Murder . In: AMC . ( [accessed April 4, 2018]).
  4. Dial M for Murder at Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved April 4, 2018 .
  5. Dial M for Murder at Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved April 4, 2018 .
  6. ^ and .
  7. World 3D-Film Expo 2003
  8. arte Murder when I call ( Memento from August 24, 2010 in the Internet Archive )
  9. [1]
  10. dubbing , German dubbing index
  11. Dial M for Murder (1981) at the Internet Movie Database. Retrieved January 13, 2019 .

Web links