Costume design in Dial M for Murder

Today I have a very short example of cinematic storytelling. Nevertheless, it comes from the master of cinematic storytelling himself, hope you’ll like it.

During his conversation with Francois Truffaut, Alfred Hitchcock mentioned an interesting example of using costume design as a storytelling device.

We did an interesting color experiment with Grace Kelly’s clothing. I dressed her in very gay and bright color at the beginning  of the picture, and as the plot thickened, her clothes became gradually more somber.

The plot of the movie is quite simple: Tony tries to murder his wife Margot, however, things don’t go as planned, so he has to think of plan B. And everything is reflected in Margot’s costume design, which changes from bright colors to more somber, as the story unfolds. Judge by yourself:

Dial M for Murder (1954)
Dial M for Murder (1954)
Dial M for Murder (1954)
Dial M for Murder (1954)
Dial M for Murder (1954)
Dial M for Murder (1954)
Dial M for Murder (1954)
Dial M for Murder (1954)

(This the only exception, when she is in her underwear.)

Dial M for Murder (1954)
Dial M for Murder (1954)
Dial M for Murder (1954)
Dial M for Murder (1954)

 

I would probably never notice this without reading the Hitchcock book, but again, this is the beauty of cinematic storytelling!


Alfred Hitchcock likes to appear in his movies at various places and in various forms, and this one is especially great! 🙂

Dial M for Murder (1954)
Dial M for Murder (1954)
Dial M for Murder (1954)
Dial M for Murder (1954)

 

Red as a symbol of sexuality and desire

There is a great scene in Mad Men (S1 E6), where girls are asked to try out some lipsticks. Secretly, they are being watched by a couple of men through a mirror in opposite room. Joan (the red dress) is the only one among girls who knows that and she does enjoy it.

So while other girls are trying out the lipsticks, Joan entertains the men behind the mirror and drives them totally crazy, especially when she leans over and puts out a cigarette. Wow, that was sexy! Sexy is also her dress, but most importantly, the color!

Mad Men, Series 1, Episode 6
Mad Men, Series 1, Episode 6
Mad Men, Series 1, Episode 6
Mad Men, Series 1, Episode 6

 

The red color of her dress is by no means an accident. Costume design plays actually a big role in each episode and gets even analyzed!

I am completely aware, that this color may represent many other things (violence, danger, happiness, anger) and this largely depends for example from which country do you come from.

But in this case, I think that the color red represents the symbol of sexuality and desire. Here are other examples from the same episode:

  1. Roger seduces Joan in a hotel room.
  2. Don dates Rachel.
Mad Men, Series 1, Episode 6
Mad Men, Series 1, Episode 6
Mad Men, Series 1, Episode 6
Mad Men, Series 1, Episode 6