(Sir) Alfred Hitchcock Derwent May - Essay

Derwent May

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Gracelessness is the word one wants to describe the overall quality of Alfred Hitchcock's latest film, Rear Window; and no word could be sadder. For what are the qualities that we associate with classic Hitchcock if not, precisely, the elegance of proportion, the ease and sureness of manner? Here, however, the unevenness runs from beginning to end, the intermittent brilliances and delicacies serve only to emphasise it.

Rear Window has a situation which promises intricacy and then fails to provide it. (p. 89)

The thriller … leans back for long stretches on a rather half-hearted plot of love and character: Jefferies doubting until this happens whether his society girl-friend is adaptable enough to enjoy being married to him….

Dial M for Murder is excellent; but it remains predominantly a success for the playwright, Frederick Knott. This story of a murderer whose plan misfires but who gives it a new lease of life by some brilliantly fast and then some sustained thinking, is only an exciting piece of algebra, all human reverberations ruthlessly deadened; however it is ingeniously written … and Hitchcock has moved about very sure-footedly on what continues to be for the most part just a stage. (p. 90)

Derwent May, "'Rear Window' and 'Dial M for Murder'," in Sight and Sound (copyright © 1954 by The British Film Institute), Vol. 24, No. 2, October-December, 1954, pp. 89-90.