Hitchcock Spins a Murderous Yarn for Audiences at the TIFF Bell Lightbox

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Most of us have had moments when we think we are fairly unique; the main character of life’s story if you will. I was having one of these moments on Friday night when I approached the TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto for a screening of Hitchcock’s classic Dial M for Murder. Surely I would be one of only a handful of cinephiles out on Friday night to catch a movie that is over 50 years old. This attitude was largely responsible for the shock I experienced when I had to scramble to find a seat. The screening must of have been sold out! Perhaps more surprising to me was the variety of people in the audience. Couples were on dates, a mother and her two teenage daughters laughed and gabbed as they found some front row seats, small packs of university students congregated at the back, and an elderly woman asked me to save her a seat in case her expedition towards the centre of the row proved fruitless. The audience was devoid of pretension and snobbery, these people were here to be entertained, and I realized, as I shed my own pretensions, so was I.

I should mention that the TIFF Bell Lightbox is an amazing movie theatre. The seats are spacious and comfortable, while the cup-holders are ingenious, as they are in front of and below the armrest and completely out of the way, while still easily accessible. Also, the four screenings that I have seen have started promptly, without commercials or previews; kind of a nice change of pace considering that previews are easily accessible online these days.

Dial M for Murder went off without a Hitch, if you don’t count its director. Grace Kelly was still beautiful as the delicate Margot Wendice, Ray Milland has retained his charismatically cloaked deviousness as Tony Wendice, who is in the market for a murdered wife, and my second time watching the film has given me a huge appreciation for the very humorous performance by John Williams as the infallible Chief Inspector Hubbard.

The strengths of Dial M for the Murder, and the reasons why it is a classic, are the strong performances by the cast, the intelligent screenplay from Frederick Knott (based on his play of the same name), and of course, the Master of Suspense behind the camera. Rarely do plays adapted for the screen work as well as this one. The quality of Dial M for Murder is in the same league as Sleuth (1972), which is high praise from me considering Sleuth is by far my favourite film of all-time.

I have trouble expressing how wonderful and fortunate Torontonians are to have a theatre like the Lightbox that is willing to screen Hitchcock classics, on actual film no less. If you grew up with Hitchcock films and want to feel nostalgic, or if you’re younger and are feeling adventurous, I urge you to get down to the Lightbox in November or December as there are some amazing Hitchock screenings ahead of us. Let the Master of Suspense show you how the old-school use to do it, before the Hollywood thriller became formulaic. Do not miss this opportunity!

Tickets here.

Show times are listed below:

The 39 Steps (One of the grandfathers of the modern thriller. Do not miss!)

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Sunday, November 27 @ 7:00pm

The Birds (‘The Birds’ is coming!)

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Tuesday, December 6 @ 9:00pm

Family Plot

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Thursday, December 1 @ 9:15pm

Sunday, December 11 @ 6:30pm

The Man Who Knew Too Much

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Saturday, November 26 @ 5:00pm

Sunday, December 4 @ 4:00pm

Marnie

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Saturday, November 26 @ 8:00pm

Sunday, December 4 @ 6:45pm

North by Northwest (An adventure epic!)

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Saturday, December 3 @ 6:00pm

Thursday, December 8 @ 6:30pm

Psycho

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Saturday, November 19 @ 5:00pm

Rear Window (Great performances by Stewart and Kelly, and a story that has been emulated more times than you can count)

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Thursday, November 10 @ 9:00pm

Sunday, November 13 @ 5:00pm

Sunday, November 20 @ 7:00pm

To Catch a Thief

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Saturday, November 12 @ 5:00pm

Sunday, November 27 @ 4:00pm

Saturday, December 31 @ 5:00pm

Vertigo

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Thursday, December 1 @ 6:30pm

Saturday, December 10 @ 5:00pm

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