Last weekend we had a couple over for dinner and as my friend was coming in she pressed a bag into my hand. “I think you’ll like this. I wonder if you have seen it. Hitchcock. The film is great, but I think you will get a kick out of the set decoration.”
I assumed I had seen it, but I was thrilled at the gesture. This is the kind of hostess gift that could inspire a dinner party all on its own. But after the guests were gone and the dishes were rinsed (I only rinse at night; the washing comes the next day) I opened the bag – I love presents – and was delighted to find Dial M for Murder.
I hadn’t seen it and neither had Mr. Blandings, so we popped it in the DVD player the following night. Hitchcock is such a delight. He was a thinking man’s director as you have to pay attention and the nuances of his films are so engaging. Like a skilled dance partner, he leads you through the story but does not feel the need to push or drag.
The film takes place in the London flat of Margot and Tony Wendice played by Grace Kelly and Ray Millard. The set is heaven. An Anglophile’s dream. The walls and trim are a creamy yellow or a yellowy cream depending on how you choose to describe it. The woodwork is detailed and lovely. Chinese ceramics add interest in lamps and objets.
No surprise I adored the chintz sofa with the contrasting red welt. Oh my. And the linen velvet armchair might be reason alone to off your spouse if you thought it might end up it the possession of a lover.
Hitchcock was so conscious of detail. Kelly wore bright colors at the beginning of the film at his direction; her wardrobe transitioned to progressively more somber tones as the story unfolds.
The curtains and shutters play a major role in the plot and are beautifully crafted under the skillful eye of set decorator George James Hopkins. Hopkins had an impressive career. He was set decorator for sixty-six movies including Casablanca, Auntie Mame, My Fair Lady, Wait Until Dark and Hello, Dolly!
So my friend was right and I adored the movie and the sets. I hope they will come back and not just because they bring charming gifts. The dinner went well as we had a fun crew and the food was fabulous as Mr. Blandings cooked. Mr. Blandings always cooks. We are trying to avoid the sort of review Tony tosses to Margot, “I’m so glad we don’t have to go…; she’s such a filthy cook.”
Images courtesy of Grace Kelly Online.