From where we stand now, it really does seem like 3D is here to stay. Nearly every new action movie has been released lately has been accompanied by a 3D version (or is that vice versa?). Of course this isn’t the first time Hollywood has gone gaga over 3D. In the ‘80s, we had a rash of 3D horror and science-fiction films released in a relatively short time period. Before that, though, the ‘50s witnessed the first real 3D boom – with a string of films across many genres finding great success in stereoscopic form. Much like how some of today’s greatest filmmakers (Martin Scorsese, Werner Herzog, Ridley Scott) are beginning to experiment with 3D, the earlier stereoscopic craze in the ‘50s saw one of the greatest filmmakers ever try his hand at directing a movie in 3D. The result is Alfred Hitchcock’s DIAL M FOR MURDER.
Shot with M.L. Gunzberg's Natural Vision 3D rig (the same setup that would be used in other touchstone 3D releases such as HOUSE OF WAX and BWANA DEVIL), DIAL M FOR MURDER was originally intended to be shown in dual strip polarized 3D. Hitchcock took special care to design the film, largely set in the confines of a single apartment, to subtly use 3D to build depth and, consequently, claustrophobia. Hitchcock would place his cameras in a pit and shoot up-ward, giving audiences a front-row seat during scenes of tension and, eventually, murder. In fact, Hitchcock is largely credited with inventing some of the techniques that would later become common mainstays in modern 3D films.
Unfortunately, few would be able to see DIAL M FOR MURDER in the way it was intended upon its original release. The craze for 3D films was dying down and, as Hitchcock put it: ““It’s a nine-day wonder, and I came in on the ninth day.” By the time the film was released, only a few theaters screened it in its intended 3D presentation – most audiences instead saw a 2D version. This would not hamper the film’s success, though. Over the years since its release, DIAL M FOR MURDER has been recognized as an excellent example of Hitchcock’s mastery of mystery and intrigue. During the ‘80s 3D revival, DIAL M FOR MURDER was even given a limited re-release in its original format.
This month, though, Houston audiences will have a chance to see Hitchcock’s DIAL M FOR MURDER in an entirely new and improved way. Warner Brothers has digitally scanned the original camera negative and released a stunning new 4K digital print of the movie in perfectly aligned 3D. Now, using modern 3D technology, audiences will be able to see DIAL M FOR MURDER the way it was originally intended. During a recent run of the restored film in New York City, the New York Times wrote, “The audience is made to break out in chilly bumps and the tension is drawn so tightly that one can almost feel it in the throat.”
Tickets are going fast for this revival screening so do not delay in reserving your seat to Sunday’s screening.