Wherefore Art Thou, Ray Milland?

Cropped screenshot of Ray Milland from the fil...
Image via Wikipedia

Just finished watching Dial M for Murder. Terrific picture. It’s been such a long time since I watched a good, chatty little classic movie that I forgot how much fun it is. Made me wish they would start turning plays into movies again: the whole thing took place on one set, and there was an “Intermission” title card dead center of the movie. It’s a Hitchcock film, but doesn’t really feel like a HITCHCOCK film, if you know what I mean: the editing was perfunctory and framing was serviceable. Also, I didn’t catch his cameo, assuming there was one.

As heartless as it is coldhearted, the movie follows a former tennis pro who tries to plan a perfect murder, then cunningly improvs after his plan fails. Some indie dude should remake it and lop off the back third. It would make for a tidy little downbeat miracle. Nonetheless, the final throws of the happy-ish ending are hilarious in how delicately the whole plot hinges on circumstantial evidence.

I’m not giving too much away, because I think all and sundry should slow down their heartbeats and give the movie their undivided attention for 105 minutes or so, if for nothing else than watching Ray Milland play a character with a mind like a snake. This is one sinister fucker, but he’s so smart and he has that charming way about him that can only be pulled off by a pure sociopath expertly pretending to understand what it means to be human.

After DMFM finished, Milland was two for two with me. I’ve seen him before in only one movie, and it’s an all time fav featuring him in every frame: The Man with X Ray Specs. I’ve seen that movie twice: one time was in Prospect Park with Pere Ubu playing accompaniment. That screening fulfilled every promise ever made by the synch up of Dark Side and Wizard of Oz. Also, they tacked on the urban legendary “I can still see” closing line (I know, I know, it’s deep nerd shit. But you’re reading an article by someone who’s actually read Roger Corman‘s autobiography. AND interviewed Don Rickles. Deep nerd shit’s gonna happen when TMWXRS comes up.).

Anyway. Obviously, now, I’m team Ray Milland.

So I dig in a little and find out he’s really two for three with me. Evidently he was also in The Lost Weekend, one of those old school movie classics that everybody should admit is inherently shitty. It’s an Oscar bait prototype with Milland playing a rummy on a bender where a whole bunch of inconsequential melodramatic bullshit ensues. It’s like basically your grandfather’s Leaving Last Vegas. 

So I’m kind of cold on Milland for a minute. Then the next big discovery brings it all to a boil. I’ll let the trailer below do the talking.


Published by Mister Bulger

Adam Bulger is a frequent contributor to the parenting website Fatherly.com. He's written for the wedding site ThePlunge.com and the college student aide Coursehero.com. Less recently, he's written for The Believer, Forbes, The Atlantic's website, Suicidegirls, Inked Magazine and probably about a dozen other places that are too obscure or defunct to bother listing.

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