|A Perfect Murder|
|Directed by||Andrew Davis|
|Written by||Patrick Smith Kelly|
|Based on||Dial M for Murder|
by Frederick Knott
|Produced by|| Arnold Kopelson |
|Edited by|| Dov Hoenig |
|Music by||James Newton Howard|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
|Box office||$128 million|
A Perfect Murder is a 1998 American crime thriller film directed by Andrew Davis and starring Michael Douglas, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Viggo Mortensen. It is a remake of Alfred Hitchcock's 1954 film Dial M for Murder , though the characters' names are all changed, and over half the plot is completely rewritten and altered. Loosely based on the play by Frederick Knott, the screenplay was written by Patrick Smith Kelly.
Steven Taylor is a Wall Street financier married to Emily, a much younger (over 20 years) translator for the United Nations. When his risky personal investments start unraveling, he intends to access Emily's personal fortune of $100 million to cover his losses. Meanwhile, Emily enjoys an affair with painter David Shaw and is considering leaving Steven. Steven meets David at a gala, and asks to visit David's studio in Brooklyn.
Steven arrives at David's studio the next day. He reveals that he knows about the affair, and used his influence to investigate David's criminal past as an ex-convict who cons rich women out of their money. Steven offers David $500,000 to murder Emily. When David responds that he and Emily are in love, Steven reminds him his next arrest will mean 15 years imprisonment.
Steven hides the door key from Emily's keyring outside the service entrance to their lavish Manhattan co-op apartment. David is to use the key, kill her, and make it look like a robbery. At his card game, Steven takes a break and uses his cellphone to make a call to an automated bank system, adding to his alibi, while using a second phone to call Emily. Emily answers in the kitchen and is attacked by a masked assailant, but stabs him in the neck with a meat thermometer.
Steven returns expecting Emily to be dead, but finds the assailant's body. He takes the key from the body and puts it back on Emily's keychain. Police arrive, led by Detective Karaman. They remove the assailant's mask and Karaman notices that Steven is surprised –the body is not David's. Outside, David watches the body being removed from the building in a black bag and assumes it to be Emily.
Steven takes Emily to stay at her mother's. A sobbing David receives a call from Emily telling him she is fine, and will be back soon. Steven calls David afterwards and organizes a meet on a ferry. Emily visits her coworker, Raquel, and tells her she has decided to leave Steven.
Emily uses her connections to speak to a bank executive, learning of Steven's financial troubles. She then informs Karaman, who says that Steven's alibi is solid, though there is the minor concern that the dead assailant did not have keys of any kind on his body. Still losing money, Steven receives a call from David, who plays an audio tape of the two discussing the plan to kill Emily and demands the full $500,000 or he will turn Steven in.
Emily returns to her apartment for the first time, but her key does not work. This spurs her to go to the apartment of the assailant, discovering that her key unlocks his door. Emily confronts Steven with this and his financial problems. Steven responds with David's sordid past and accuses him of being a blackmailer conning her and threatening him. When he saw the dead body in their kitchen, he assumed it was David and took the key from his pocket so as not to implicate Emily. Steven goes to David's loft with the cash, but finds a note directing him to a park. David's phone rings, and Steven answers –it is a ticketing agent, confirming David's train to Montreal. Steven meets David in a park and swaps the money for the audio tape.
Reaching the private compartment on the train, David opens the bathroom door; Steven lunges out and stabs him, taking David's gun and the money. A dying David laughs, revealing he mailed a copy of the tape to Emily via courier service. Steven rushes home and finds the mail still unopened. He hides the money, gun, and audio tape in his safe before Emily enters the room.
Steven showers then dresses for dinner, but Emily suggests they stay in instead. As she heads out to pick up food, she mentions that they should have the locks changed since her key is missing. Steven checks the service entrance, finds the key he hid for David, and realizes that the attacker had put it back after unlocking the door. Emily suddenly appears, revealing that she knows everything now, having found the tape in the safe while he showered. When she turns to leave, Steven attacks her. A brief fight ensues, ending when Emily uses David's gun (from the safe) to kill Steven.
Karaman and his officers arrive. Emily plays David's tape, then explains what happened after she told Steven, to which Karaman replies: "What else could you do?"
In Hitchcock's Dial M For Murder, the characters played by Ray Milland and Grace Kelly are depicted as living in a modest London flat, although it is implied that they are quite wealthy, as Milland's character, Tony Wendice, is a retired tennis champion. Michael Douglas and Gwyneth Paltrow's characters are also shown as an extremely wealthy couple. Both Kelly and Paltrow's characters are shown as striking blondes. Both films make use of the mystery of the fact that no key was found on the dead man when he was killed by both Kelly and Paltrow's characters, as both their husbands had removed them in an attempt to pin the crime on their wives. Toward the beginning of Dial M For Murder, when Kelly and Robert Cummings are shown together in the Wendice flat, and Milland comes home, Kelly greets him with "There you are!" and kisses him. Presumably in homage to the original film, Douglas's character greets Paltrow exactly the same way when she arrives home to their apartment at the beginning of A Perfect Murder.
Throughout the film, Emily carries an Hermès Kelly bag, named after Grace Kelly who was often photographed carrying the model of purse.
The title A Perfect Murder matches the translation that was made in some countries of Hitchcock's film, known in Italian as Il delitto perfetto and in Spanish as Crimen perfecto; in French it was Le crime était presque parfait.
Principal photography began on October 14, 1997. Filming took place in & around New York City. The location of Steven & Emily's apartment was filmed at The Convent of The Sacred Heart building in Manhattan. The Bradford Mansion was filmed at the Salutation House in Long Island. Filming ended on January 13, 1998.
An alternate ending exists and is presented, with optional commentary, on the original Blu-ray disc release.In this version, Steven comes back from finding the key replaced where he had hidden it and Emily confronts him in the kitchen rather than in their foyer. The scene plays out with the same dialogue, but Steven never physically attacks her. He still tells her that the only way she'll leave him is dead, and she shoots him. Steven then says "You won't get away with this" before dying and Emily purposely injures herself, making it look like self-defense.
A Perfect Murder opened in second place at the box office behind The Truman Show , grossing $16,615,704 during its first weekend. It ended up with a total worldwide gross of $128,038,368.
A Perfect Murder received mixed reviews from critics: Stephen Holden of The New York Times called it a "skillfully plotted update of Frederick Knott's play".Owen Glelberman of Entertainment Weekly commented, " I’ve seen far worse thrillers than “A Perfect Murder,” but the movie is finally more competent than it is pleasurable. All that lingers from it is the color of money." Rita Kempley of The Washington Post noted, "The trouble is, we don't really much care about this philandering billionaire glamour puss, who seems perfectly capable of taking care of herself. We don't care about her husband or lover either. The story's most compelling character, an Arab American detective (the superb British actor David Suchet), becomes a minor player here. Nevertheless, like John Williams in the Hitchcock film, Suchet commits the film's only believable crime: He steals the show." Paul Clinton of CNN observed, "This production is stylishly mounted... Douglas is an excellent actor and a gifted producer. However, he should hang up his spurs when it comes to playing a romantic lead with women in their twenties." Roger Ebert, who gave the film 3 stars out of 4, wrote "[It] works like a nasty little machine to keep us involved and disturbed; my attention never strayed". Meanwhile, James Berardinelli wrote that the film "has inexplicably managed to eliminate almost everything that was worthwhile about Dial M for Murder, leaving behind the nearly-unwatchable wreckage of a would-be '90s thriller." A Perfect Murder holds a 57% "Rotten" rating on Rotten Tomatoes from 53 reviews. The site's consensus states: "A slick little thriller that relies a bit too much on surprise events to generate suspense." It has a score of 50/100, based on 22 reviews ("mixed or average reviews") from Metacritic.
Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock was an English film director, producer, and screenwriter. He is one of the most influential and widely studied filmmakers in the history of cinema. Known as the "Master of Suspense", he directed over 50 feature films in a career spanning six decades, becoming as well known as any of his actors thanks to his many interviews, his cameo roles in most of his films, and his hosting and producing the television anthology Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955–65). His films garnered 46 Academy Award nominations including six wins, although he never won for Best Director despite having had five nominations. In 1955, Hitchcock became an American citizen.
Grace Patricia Kelly was an American actress who, after starring in several significant films in the early to mid-1950s, became Princess of Monaco by marrying Prince Rainier III in April 1956.
Gwyneth Kate Paltrow is an American actress, model, businesswoman, singer, and author. She is the recipient of various accolades, including an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, and a Primetime Emmy Award.
Ray Milland was a British-American actor and film director. His screen career ran from 1929 to 1985, and he is best remembered for his Academy Award-winning portrayal of an alcoholic writer in Billy Wilder's The Lost Weekend (1945) and also for such roles as a sophisticated leading man opposite John Wayne's corrupt character in Reap the Wild Wind (1942), the murder-plotting husband in Alfred Hitchcock's Dial M for Murder (1954), and Oliver Barrett III in Love Story (1970).
Shadow of a Doubt is a 1943 American psychological thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, and starring Teresa Wright and Joseph Cotten. Written by Thornton Wilder, Sally Benson, and Alma Reville, the film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Story for Gordon McDonell. In 1991, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, being deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". The film was also Alfred Hitchcock's favorite of all of his films.
Dial M for Murder is a 1954 American crime mystery thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, starring Ray Milland, Grace Kelly, Robert Cummings, Anthony Dawson, and John Williams. Both the screenplay and the successful stage play on which it was based were written by English playwright Frederick Knott. The play premiered in 1952 on BBC Television, before being performed on stage in the same year in London's West End in June, and then New York's Broadway in October. Originally intended to be shown in dual-strip polarized 3-D, the film played in most theatres in ordinary 2-D due to the loss of interest in the 3-D process by the time of its release. The film earned an estimated $2.7 million in North American box office sales in 1954.
Sir David Courtney Suchet, is an English actor. He is known for his work on British stage and television. He played Edward Teller in the TV serial Oppenheimer (1980) and received the RTS and BPG awards for his performance as Augustus Melmotte in the British serial The Way We Live Now (2001). International acclaim and recognition followed his performance as Agatha Christie's detective Hercule Poirot in Agatha Christie's Poirot (1989–2013), for which he received a 1991 British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) nomination.
Poirot is a British mystery drama television programme that aired on ITV from 8 January 1989 to 13 November 2013. David Suchet starred as the eponymous detective, Agatha Christie's fictional Hercule Poirot. Initially produced by LWT, the series was later produced by ITV Studios. The series also aired on VisionTV in Canada and on PBS and A&E in the United States.
To Catch a Thief is a 1955 American black comedy romantic thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, from a screenplay by John Michael Hayes based on the 1952 novel of the same name by David Dodge. The film stars Cary Grant as a retired cat burglar who has to save his reformed reputation by catching an impostor preying on the wealthy tourists of the French Riviera. Grace Kelly stars opposite him as his romantic interest in her final film with Hitchcock.
Strangers on a Train is a 1951 American psychological thriller film noir produced and directed by Alfred Hitchcock, and based on the 1950 novel Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith. It was shot in the autumn of 1950 and released by Warner Bros. on June 30, 1951.
Marnie is a 1964 American psychological thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The screenplay by Jay Presson Allen was based on the 1961 novel of the same name by writer Winston Graham. The film stars Tippi Hedren and Sean Connery.
Lifeboat is a 1944 American survival film directed by Alfred Hitchcock from a story by John Steinbeck. It stars Tallulah Bankhead and William Bendix, alongside Walter Slezak, Mary Anderson, John Hodiak, Henry Hull, Heather Angel, Hume Cronyn and Canada Lee. The film is set entirely on a lifeboat launched from a passenger vessel torpedoed and sunk by a Nazi U-boat.
Body Double is a 1984 American neo-noir erotic thriller film co-written, produced, and directed by Brian De Palma and starring Craig Wasson, Gregg Henry, Melanie Griffith, and Deborah Shelton. The original musical score was composed by Pino Donaggio.
Anthony Douglas Gillon Dawson was a Scottish actor, best known for his supporting roles as villains in films such as Alfred Hitchcock's Dial M for Murder (1954) and Midnight Lace (1960), as well as playing Professor Dent in the James Bond film Dr. No (1962). He also appeared as Ernst Stavro Blofeld in From Russia with Love (1963) and Thunderball (1965).
Sisters is a 1972 American psychological slasher film directed by Brian De Palma and starring Margot Kidder, Jennifer Salt, and Charles Durning. The plot focuses on a French Canadian model whose separated conjoined twin is suspected of a brutal murder witnessed by a newspaper reporter in Staten Island, New York City.
Frederick Major Paull Knott was an English playwright and screenwriter known for his complex crime-related plots. Although he was a reluctant writer and completed only a small number of plays in his career, two have become well-known: the London-based stage thriller Dial M for Murder, later filmed in Hollywood by Alfred Hitchcock, and the 1966 play Wait Until Dark, which was adapted to a Hollywood film directed by Terence Young. He also wrote the Broadway mystery Write Me a Murder.
Rope is a 1948 American psychological crime thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, based on the 1929 play of the same name by Patrick Hamilton. The film was adapted by Hume Cronyn with a screenplay by Arthur Laurents.
Country Strong is a 2010 American drama film starring Gwyneth Paltrow, Tim McGraw, Garrett Hedlund, and Leighton Meester. The film, about an emotionally unstable country music star who attempts to resurrect her career, was directed and written by American filmmaker Shana Feste. It premiered in Nashville, Tennessee on November 8, 2010, and had a wide release in the United States on January 7, 2011. This is the second film in which McGraw and Hedlund have worked together, the first being Friday Night Lights in 2004. At the 83rd Academy Awards, the film was nominated for Best Original Song.
The Dead Don't Die is a 1975 American made-for-television neo-noir horror thriller film set in the 1930s, directed by Curtis Harrington from a teleplay by Robert Bloch, based upon his own story of the same title that first appeared in Fantastic Adventures, July 1951. The film originally premiered on NBC on January 14, 1975. The film uses the traditional Haitian concept of zombies as resurrected slaves of the living.
Side Effects is a 2013 American psychological thriller film directed by Steven Soderbergh and written by Scott Z. Burns. It stars Rooney Mara as a woman who is prescribed experimental drugs by psychiatrists after her husband is released from prison. Side Effects was released in the United States on February 8, 2013, by Open Road Films.