Like his earlier masterpiece Rope (1948), Hitchcock’s Dial M for Murder is based on a play (by the English playwright Frederick Knott), and it’s not difficult to see that it was originally intended as a theatre piece. Not only is the bulk of the film set within the confines of an apartment—as also in Rope—but the cast is small and the action is built around a single dramatic climax. However, Dial M differs from Rope in the position of this climax, and therein lies the former’s greatest weakness.
Alfred Hitchcock’s Lifeboat may begin with a torpedic blast, but it rapidly enters a maelstrom of sanctimony, dime-store impromptu romances, and heavy-handed propagandizing. It’s hard to believe that this rudderless tale about the sinking of an Allied freighter by a German U-boat during World War II was helmed by the same “master of suspense” who produced the gripping small-town drama Shadow of a Doubt only a year earlier.