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25 Things Turning 25 This Year

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If 2015 marks your quarter-century of life, you're in great company. Humans in 1990 saw their place in the cosmos, along with some of the best cultural moments of a decade that would see the dot-com boom, the rise of Generation X, and so much more. Here are 25 things turning 25 in 2015. (And in case you missed it, we also have 30 Things Turning 30 in 2015!)

1. Pale Blue Dot (Photograph)

By Voyager 1 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Voyager 1 was launched in 1977 to take photos of Jupiter, Saturn, and their moons. By 1980, the spacecraft had completed its initial mission and was on its way to interstellar space. Carl Sagan requested one last photo of Earth that year, but the idea was panned by some at NASA for fear that it might damage Voyager 1's cameras to take a photo facing the Sun. It wasn't for another decade that NASA took the 60 frames that compose the Family Portrait, one of which features Earth as a partial-pixel blue dot. The images were collected on Valentine's Day 1990, and transmitted back to Earth between March and May of the same year. In the same way the Blue Marble photograph gave humanity a new way to think about our planet (as seen from the moon), Pale Blue Dot gave us a sense of the vastness of space.

In 1994, Sagan would use the title for his book, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space. A passage from his audio narration of the book (read shortly before he died) eventually led to many internet video mashups, like this one from Michael Marantz:

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2. Hubble Space Telescope

On April 24, 1990, Space Shuttle Discovery mission STS-31 launched the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit. The telescope had been planned for a much earlier launch, but the Challenger disaster of 1986 had derailed it (along with many other NASA projects). Shortly after the telescope came online, it became clear that there was a tiny (but serious) flaw in the primary mirror used to collect images. In December 1993, a service mission installed COSTAR, which was sort of like a set of corrective lenses to fix the problem.

Named for astronomer Edwin Hubble, the Hubble Space Telescope has taken huge numbers of photographs (currently downlinking over 120 GB of data each week), much of it available via HubbleSite or the rather more technical Hubble Legacy Archive. There were some remarkable new images released for the 25th anniversary.

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3. The Biggest Art Theft in History

"The Concert," Johannes Vermeer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

A little after midnight on March 18, 1990, two men dressed as police officers removed 13 works of art from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. The theft included major works by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Degas, and Manet, as well as an ancient Chinese vessel. In total, the heist was worth more than $500 million (leading some to estimate this as the largest single private property theft in history). The pieces have not been recovered, and the theft appears in lots of TV shows, including an episode of Drunk History. (We also wrote a story about it.)

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4. WHO Stops Treating Homosexuality as a Disease

On May 17, 1990, the World Health Organization removed "homosexuality" from its International Classification of Diseases. This was a milestone in the slow change toward public acceptance of homosexuality (and ultimately other variants of LGBTQ identifications). The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association (ILGA) later declared May 17 The International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.

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5. Twin Peaks

April 8, 1990 is seared into TV viewers' memories as the day Twin Peaks debuted, with its damn fine coffee, brilliant music, and surreal genre-twisting magic. Simply the fact that a David Lynch/Mark Frost-produced show was broadcast on a major network (ABC) was one thing; the reality that is was so weird and good was enough to generate a cult following. The series is so beloved that it's coming back in 2016, inspired by a line uttered by Laura Palmer during the series: "I'll see you again in 25 years."

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6. Nickelodeon Studios and Universal Studios Florida

By Mikerajchel [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

On the other end of the TV-quality spectrum, Nickelodeon Studios debuted in June 1990 as a combination TV studio-slash-amusement park, all contained within Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. Oh yeah, that reminds me—Universal Studios Florida opened the same day. Here's a video from the Back to the Future ride (now closed), showing, among other things, a journey to 2015. (The actual ride experience starts around 2:20.)

Two years after opening, Nickelodeon Studios buried a very-'90s time capsule. Due to the closure of the studio, the time capsule has been relocated to Nickelodeon Suites Resort in Orlando, with plans to open it in 2042. We will bring you live coverage when that happens.

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7. The First HDTV Broadcast

In Europe, HDTV became a thing years before it reached the U.S. (and for the record, Japan was way ahead of everybody else—but their early broadcasts tended to be more experimental). Italian broadcaster RAI brought HDTV to Europe with the FIFA World Cup in 1990. Matches were shown in movie theaters due to the technology required, and after a few more years of experimentation, HDTV broadcasting in Europe was dropped until 2004.

Incidentally, West Germany won the World Cup on July 8, 1990. Which leads us to....

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8. The Reunification of Germany

By Thomas Wolf, www.foto-tw.de (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Although Germans tend to call the event die Wende (translation: "the turn"), most of the rest of us remember 1990's merger of West Germany and East Germany as "the reunification of Germany." After the Berlin Wall began to fall in 1989, the two Germanys found plenty of reasons to merge (not least the collapse of East Germany's economy). Throughout the year, efforts were made to unify the countries, including their currencies, culminating in a treaty signed on August 31, 1990 and fully enacted on October 3, 1990. One bummer resulting from this process: only one German team could compete in the next FIFA World Cup in 1994. The German team in 1994 was knocked out by Bulgaria in the Quarter-finals.

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9. Nelson Mandela Released from Prison

South Africa The Good News / www.sagoodnews.co.za [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Nelson Mandela spent 27 years imprisoned by the apartheid government of South Africa; he was released in 1990 and became the first democratically-elected President of South Africa in 1994 after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize (with F.W. de Klerk) in 1993. A lifelong opponent of apartheid, Mandela achieved tremendous success after an incredible period of time as a political prisoner.

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10. The First Web Page

Awkwardly modern screenshot by Chris Higgins

Tim Berners-Lee wrote a proposal for what would become the World Wide Web in 1989, but had to build a lot of tools and protocols in order to make it go. By Christmas 1990, all of the initial tools were in place, and he proceeded to write the first Web page, describing the World Wide Web itself.

The original copy is now lost—Web archives weren't really a thing before there was a Web—but in 2013, the earliest known copy of that page (dating to 1992) was discovered on a floppy disk and put back online. You can visit that page, though you should keep in mind that it's not quite the first. But close. Note: it's from a time before the Web had cool stuff like images.

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11. Sue, the Best T. rex Fossil

By Connie Ma from Chicago, United States of America [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Sue is now a fossil, but quite a while back she was a living, breathing Tyrannosaurus rex. What makes her remarkable is that she's the largest, most complete T. rex fossil we have, and she was unearthed in 1990.

Sue's discovery was the result of an amazing accident. The fossil was discovered (and named for) Sue Hendrickson, who was working with a team of researchers in the badlands of South Dakota. They were leaving their site one day when a flat tire disabled their vehicle. Hendrickson proceeded to explore the area and noticed some interesting bones—which turned out to be Sue.

It took two and a half years to assemble Sue, who stands 13 feet tall and is 41 feet long. Her teeth are as long as human forearms. You can see her at The Field Museum.

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12. The Game Genie

By Evan-Amos (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Nintendo gamers remember 1990 as the year the Game Genie, a system for "enhancing" (also called "cheating") in home video games, was released. It initially shipped only in Canada due to a legal battle, but quickly came to the United States.

The Game Genie was a weird device; users had to cram it into their Nintendos (and later other systems), then place the game cartridge into a slot within the Genie. Upon startup, the user could then input a series of letters (a "code") that would change gameplay—offering extra lives, invulnerability, special weapons, or other changes. These codes modified the game code at runtime, so they were akin to simply changing some counter (like "How many lives remain") to a new number. Often, codes could be discovered at random, through a laborious process of trial and error, and new codes are still being discovered today.

For more on the Game Genie, see my overly-detailed 2012 article How Did the Game Genie Work?

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13. Super Mario Bros. 3

Released in the U.S. on February 12, 1990 (though Japanese fans got it way back in 1988!), Super Mario Bros. 3 was the culmination of what was technically possible on the Nintendo Entertainment System. After the smash hit Super Mario Bros. (bundled with the NES) and the slightly confusing Super Mario Bros. 2, SMB 3 was universally praised as a terrific game, and it sold phenomenally well—about $1.7 billion in today's dollars.

SMB 3 was featured in the movie The Wizard, and it is technically possible to complete the game in three minutes (using serious trickery).

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14. The (Amended) Clean Air Act

In 1989, President Bush proposed major changes to the Clean Air Act, which had first been passed way back in 1970. The changes, enacted in 1990, had to do with acid rain, ozone depletion, air quality (smog) in cities, and regulations on gasoline formulations. Some of these changes were spurred by the recent discovery of a hole in the ozone layer and international plans to deal with it.

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15. Todd McFarlane's Spider-Man

Spider-Man #1 (cropped cover).

In 1990, after working on Amazing Spider-Man for dozens of issues, Todd McFarlane was sick of drawing stories written by other people. He told his boss he wanted to quit illustrating Amazing Spider-Man, so he could pursue other projects. In a surprise move, McFarlane's boss offered him a brand new comic book, entitled simply Spider-Man, which McFarlane proceeded to write and illustrate (at least its first 14 issues). The "Torment" story arc was a smash hit, and was part of a revitalization of the comics industry in the '90s.

McFarlane's experience with Spider-Man would lead to the creation of Image Comics, publishing excellent titles like Spawn.

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16. Home Alone, and a ton of other awesome movies

Tons of instant classics came out in 1990, including:

Awakenings

Dances with Wolves

Dick Tracy

Edward Scissorhands

Ghost

Goodfellas

Home Alone

The Hunt for Red October

Mermaids

Misery

Pretty Woman

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17. The First McDonald's in Moscow

On the morning of January 31, 1990, the first McDonald's in Moscow opened its doors. The line to get in was insane (see video above), with more than 5000 people waiting for Big Macs. That day, the restaurant served over 30,000 patrons, setting a sales record (this was made possible by virtue of the restaurant being positively huge—there were 700 seats available opening day). Throughout 1990, more locations opened in Eastern Europe. The following year, the Soviet Union was dissolved. Coincidence?

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18. Jurassic Park

Jurassic Park novel (cropped cover).

Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park was a standout book of 1990, at least for me. But the same year, James Ellroy's L.A. Confidential came out, along with Elmore Leonard's Get Shorty, and Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Ultimatum. Notice a theme? They were all adapted into movies.

On the nonfiction side, Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine published Last Chance to See. Eleven years after its publication, Adams gave a beautiful lecture about the book, just days before he died.

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19. In Living Color

In Living Color was a sketch comedy show on Fox featuring the Wayans family, plus a bunch of comedians who would go on to become famous: Jim Carrey, Jamie Foxx, Tommy Davidson, and David Alan Grier, among others. It also featured "The Fly Girls," a dance troupe choreographed by Rosie Perez and including Jennifer Lopez (!). The show was a huge deal for a few years, then fizzled out in 1994. Here's an example of Jim Carrey in an early role as Fire Marshall Bill:

Bonus: Some other shows debuting in 1990 (aside from the previously mentioned Twin Peaks) included TaleSpin, Wings and Northern Exposure. Some lists include The Simpsons as starting in 1990, but its first episode (a Christmas special) aired in 1989.

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20. Jennifer Lawrence, and a bunch of other awesome people

By Kurt Kulac (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Jennifer Lawrence was just one awesome person who was born in 1990. Here's a list of notables:

Liam Hemsworth, January 13

Kristen Stewart, April 9

Emma Watson, April 15

Dev Patel, April 23

Princess Eugenie of York, March 23

Chris Colfer, May 27

Iggy Azalea, June 7

Margot Robbie, July 2

Rafael and Fabio da Silva, July 9

Damian Lillard, July 15

Soulja Boy, July 28

Jonathan Lipnicki, October 22

Rita Ora, November 26

Chanel Iman, December 1

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21. Jamba Juice

Jamba Juice launched in San Luis Obispo, California in April of 1990. From humble beginnings, the franchise now has over 800 locations, which eventually led to my favorite David Letterman gag of all time: "How Many Guys in Spider-Man Suits Can Fit Into Jamba Juice?"

Bonus: Other brands launched in 1990 include The California Wine Club, Lucky Brand Jeans, and Roxy.

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22. Martha Stewart Living Magazine

Martha Stewart Living started its print run in 1990 with a winter preview/test issue. The next year it was picked up as a quarterly magazine, which was, followed in 1993 by the TV show of the same name. Focused on Martha Stewart's skill in the "domestic arts," MSL became a hit, and started publishing monthly. The Martha Stewart Omnimedia empire today is a bit more diverse, with various TV shows, home products, books, and more.

Bonus: Entertainment Weekly and Nickelodeon Magazine (the latter initially distributed at Pizza Hut locations) also launched in 1990.

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23. Pearl Jam

By "Lugnuts" (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Pearl Jam officially formed in 1990, after the death of Andrew Wood, singer in the band Mother Love Bone. In Pearl Jam's first gigs, the band was known as Mookie Blaylock (yes, after the basketball player), but renamed themselves late in the year when they signed a record contract. The next year they would record Ten, which just happened to be Mookie Blaylock's jersey number.

Bonus: Other bands formed in 1990: Ace of Base, Blessid Union of Souls, Blind Melon, Brooks & Dunn, Kris Kross, The Prodigy, Tool, and The Brian Setzer Orchestra.

Extra Bonus: 1990 is when news broke that Milli Vanilli didn't actually sing their hit songs, and lip-synched them when performed live. Their Best New Artist Grammy was taken back when the scandal broke.

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24. Sid Meier's Railroad Tycoon

The video game Sid Meier's Railroad Tycoon was released for DOS in 1990 (you can now download it for free), ushering in an empire of Sid Meier simulation games. In the game, the player acts as (surprise!) a railroad owner who manages railroads and trains, acting as a sort of SimCity for railroads. The game was a huge hit, and led to a series of similar simulation games, the most famous probably being Sid Meier's Civilization.

Bonus: Other notable games released in 1990 include Dr. Mario, Mega Man 3, Super Mario World, King's Quest V, Commander Keen: Invasion of the Vorticons Episode 1, and the first Final Fantasy game for the NES in America.

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25. The Chunnel Breakthrough

By Mortadelo2005 (Image:Course Channeltunnel en.png, by Weyoune) [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

The Channel Tunnel (or "Chunnel") was a project two centuries in the making. From its first proposal in 1802, the idea was to tunnel under the English Channel, connecting England and France. Work didn't begin until 1987, when the UK began boring of the tunnel (the French started early the next year).

On December 1, 1990, the two ends met as workers broke through a final piece of rock, and British and French tunnelers shook hands through the opening (video, sadly, not embeddable). Although the tunnel wouldn't open formally until 1994, this breakthrough marked the first time the Chunnel was a reality, 188 years after the idea was first floated.

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10 Regional Twists on Trick-or-Treating
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Walk around any given American neighborhood on the night of October 31, and you’ll likely hear choruses of "trick-or-treat" chiming through the area. The sing-songy phrase is synonymous with Halloween in some parts of the world, but it's not the only way kids get sweets from their neighbors this time of year. From the Philippines to the American Midwest, here are some regional door-to-door traditions you may not have heard of.

1. PANGANGALULUWA // THE PHILIPPINES

Rice cakes wrapped in leaves.
Suman

The earliest form of trick-or-treating on Halloween can be traced back to Europe in the Middle Ages. Kids would don costumes and go door-to-door offering prayers for dead relatives in exchange for snacks called "soul cakes." When the cake was eaten, tradition held that a soul was ferried from purgatory into heaven. Souling has disappeared from Ireland and the UK, but a version of it lives on halfway across the world in the Philippines. During All Saints Day on November 1, Filipino children taking part in Pangangaluluwa will visit local houses and sing hymns for alms. The songs often relate to souls in purgatory, and carolers will play the part of the souls by asking for prayers. Kids are sometimes given rice cakes called suman, a callback to the soul cakes from centuries past.

2. PÃO-POR-DEUS // PORTUGAL

Raw dough.
iStock

Instead of trick-or-treating, kids in Portugal go door-to-door saying pão-por-deus ("bread for god") in exchange for goodies on All Saints Day. Some homeowners give out money or candy, while others offer actual baked goods.

3. HALLOWEEN APPLES // WESTERN CANADA

Kids trick-or-treating.
iStock

If they're not calling out "trick-or-treat" on their neighbors’ doorsteps on Halloween night, you may hear children in western Canada saying "Halloween apples!" The phrase is left over from a time when apples were a common Halloween treat and giving out loose items on the holiday wasn't considered taboo.

4. ST. MARTIN'S DAY // THE NETHERLANDS

The Dutch wait several days after Halloween to do their own take on trick-or-treating. On the night of November 11, St. Martin's Day, children in the Netherlands take to the streets with their homemade lanterns in hand. These lanterns were traditionally carved from beets or turnips, but today they’re most commonly made from paper. And the kids who partake don’t get away with shouting a few words at each home they visit—they’re expected to sing songs to receive their sugary rewards.

5. A PENNY FOR THE GUY // THE UK

Guy Fawkes Night celebration.

Peter Trimming, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.0

Guy Fawkes Night is seen by some as the English Protestants’ answer to the Catholic holidays associated with Halloween, so it makes sense that it has its own spin on trick-or-treating. November 5 marks the day of Guy Fawkes’s failed assassination attempt on King James as part of the Gunpowder Plot. To celebrate the occasion, children will tour the neighborhood asking for "a penny for the guy." Sometimes they’ll carry pictures of the would-be-assassin which are burned in the bonfires lit later at night.

6. TRICKS FOR TREATS // ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI

Kids knocking on a door in costume.
iStock

If kids in the St. Louis area hope to go home with a full bag of candy on Halloween, they must be willing to tickle some funny bones. Saying "tricks-for-treats" followed by a joke replaces the classic trick-or-treat mantra in this Midwestern city. There’s no criteria for the quality or the subject of the joke, but spooky material (What’s a skeleton’s favorite instrument? The trombone!) earns brownie points.

7. ME DA PARA MI CALAVERITA // MEXICO

Sugar skulls with decoration.
iStock

While Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is completely separate from Halloween, the two holidays share a few things in common. Mexicans celebrate the day by dressing up, eating sweet treats, and in some parts of the country, going house-to-house. Children knocking on doors will say "me da para mi calaverita" or "give me money for my little skull," a reference to the decorated sugar skulls sold in markets at this time of year.

8. HALLOWEEN! // QUEBEC, CANADA

Kids dressed up for Halloween.
iStock

Trick-or-treaters like to keep things simple in the Canadian province of Quebec. In place of the alliterative exclamation, they shout “Halloween!” at each home they visit. Adults local to the area might remember saying "la charité s’il-vous-plaît "(French for “charity, please”) when going door-to-door on Halloween, but this saying has largely fallen out of fashion.

9. SWEET OR SOUR // GERMANY

Little girl trick-or-treating.
iStock

Halloween is only just beginning to gain popularity in Germany. Where it is celebrated, the holiday looks a lot like it does in America, but Germans have managed to inject some local character into their version of trick-or-treat. In exchange for candy, kids sometimes sing out "süß oder saures"—or "sweet and sour" in English.

10. TRIQUI, TRIQUI HALLOWEEN // COLOMBIA

Kids dressed up for Halloween.
Rubí Flórez, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Kids in Colombia anticipate dressing up and prowling the streets on Halloween just as much as kids do in the States. There are a few significant variations on the annual tradition: Instead of visiting private residencies, they're more likely to ask for candy from store owners and the security guards of apartment buildings. And instead of saying trick-or-treat, they recite this Spanish rhyme:

Triqui triqui Halloween
Quiero dulces para mí
Si no hay dulces para mí
Se le crece la naríz

In short, it means that if the grownups don't give the kids the candy they're asking for, their noses will grow. Tricky, tricky indeed

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11 Thrilling Facts About Dial M for Murder
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In 1953 Alfred Hitchcock was looking for a new project after a film he’d been developing fell through. Sensing a need to go back to his safe space of murderous thrillers, he opted to adapt a stage play that had already proved to be a hit on British television. Though he had no particular attachment to the project, Dial M for Murder would ultimately become one of Hitchcock’s best-known—and best-loved—classics.

From the film’s use of 3D to the debut of Grace Kelly in Hitchcock’s filmography to a pivotal murder sequence that made the director lose weight from stress, here are 11 facts about Dial M for Murder.

1. IT’S BASED ON A STAGE PLAY.

Dial M for Murder is, in terms of locations and number of characters, a relatively sparse film that barely leaves its primary set. This is because it was based on a stage play by Frederick Knott, which premiered as a BBC TV special in 1952 and later opened at London’s Westminster Theater and, eventually, Broadway. After seeing the BBC production, producer Sir Alexander Korda purchased the rights to make the film version, and later sold them to Warner Bros. for $75,000.

2. ALFRED HITCHCOCK THOUGHT HE WAS “COASTING” WHEN HE MADE THE FILM.

By 1953, when Dial M for Murder arrived at Warner Bros., Hitchcock was developing a project called The Bramble Bush, the story of a man who steals another man’s passport, only to find out that the original owner is wanted for murder. Hitchcock wrestled with the story for a while, but was never satisfied with it. When Dial M for Murder landed at the studio, Hitchcock knew the play had been a hit, and opted to direct it. As he later told fellow director François Truffaut, he found the film to be “coasting, playing it safe,” as he was already known as a thriller filmmaker.

3. IT’S HITCHCOCK’S ONLY 3D FILM.

In the early 1950s, the 3D movie craze was raging, and Warner Bros. was eager to pair it with the fame of Hitchcock. So, the director was ordered to use the process on Dial M for Murder. This meant Hitchcock had to work with the giant cameras necessary for the process, but there was also a trade-off that makes the film fascinating—even in 2D. In order to make the film look appropriately interesting in 3D, Hitchcock added a pit into the floor of the set, so the camera could move at lower angles and captures objects like lamps in the foreground. As a result, the film looks like no other Hitchcock ever shot, particularly for the infamous scissors murder that’s the film's thrilling centerpiece. Unfortunately, by the time Dial M for Murder was released in 1954, the 3D fad was dying out, so the film was shown in 2D at most screenings.

4. IT WAS HITCHCOCK’S FIRST FILM WITH GRACE KELLY.

Of all of the iconic blonde stars Hitchcock cast in his films, the most famous is almost undoubtedly Grace Kelly, the actress-turned-princess who first joined him for this film. Hitchcock once described Kelly as a "rare thing in movies ... fit for any leading-lady part,” and it was said he had the easiest working relationship with her of any star. They worked so well together that they went on to make two more films, Rear Window in 1954 and To Catch a Thief in 1955.

5. IT TAKES PLACE ALMOST ENTIRELY INDOORS.

Because Dial M for Murder is based on a stage play, the original script had very little in the way of outdoor set pieces. Hitchcock wanted to keep it that way, as he later explained to Truffaut:

“I’ve got a theory on the way they make pictures based on stage plays; they did it with silent pictures, too. Many filmmakers would take a stage play and say, ‘I’m going to make this into a film.’ Then they would begin to ‘open it up.’ In other words, on the stage it was all confined to one set, and the idea was to do something that would take it away from the confined stage setting.”

Hitchcock wanted to keep the confinement intact, so almost all of the action in the film takes place indoors, largely in the Wendices' apartment. This adds to the intimacy and tension.

6. HITCHCOCK PERSONALLY CHOSE EVERY PROP.

Hitchcock was always known as a meticulous director obsessed with detail, but on Dial M for Murder he was particularly detail-oriented, in part because the 3D cameras were going to capture objects in a way his other films hadn’t. As a result, he selected all of the objects in the Wendice apartment himself, and even had a giant false telephone dial made for the famous “M” close-up in the title sequence.

7. KELLY’S WARDROBE GROWS DARKER ON PURPOSE.

Grace Kelly in 'Dial M for Murder' (1954)
Warner Home Video

Hitchcock’s exacting eye also led to an elaborate “color experiment” to portray the psychological condition of Kelly’s character. As the film begins, the colors she wears are all very bright, suggesting a happy life in which she doesn’t suspect anything is wrong. As the film grows darker for her, to the point that she’s framed for murder, the wardrobe grows darker and “more somber,” as Hitchcock put it.

8. KELLY WON A PARTICULAR WARDROBE ARGUMENT.

For the scene in which Swann (Anthony Dawson) attempts to murder Margot (Kelly) by strangling her (until she manages to stab him with a pair of scissors), Hitchcock had another exacting wardrobe request. He had an elegant velvet robe made for Kelly, hoping to create interesting textural effects as the lights and shadows played off the fabric while she fought for her life. Kelly reasoned that, since Margot was alone in the apartment (as far as she knew) and was only getting out of bed to answer the phone, she wouldn’t bother to put on a robe.

“I said I wouldn't put on anything at all, that I'd just get up and go to the phone in my nightgown. And [Hitchcock] admitted that was better, and that's the way it was done,” Kelly later recalled.

9. HITCHCOCK WAS SO NERVOUS ABOUT THE PIVOTAL SCENE THAT HE LOST WEIGHT.

Dial M for Murder was shot in just 36 days, but the director took special care with one scene in particular: the murder sequence in which Margot stabs Swann with the scissors. Not only was it a key scene in the film, but it was also a moment that required particular care to make the 3D effects work. Hitchcock agonized over the scene to such a degree that he apparently lost 20 pounds during filming.

"This is nicely done but there wasn't enough gleam to the scissors, and a murder without gleaming scissors is like asparagus without the hollandaise sauce—tasteless,” he reportedly said after one take.

10. HITCHCOCK MAKES HIS CAMEO IN A PHOTOGRAPH.

Hitchcock became known throughout his career for making cameos in his films, ranging from the very subtle (you can see his silhouette in neon outside the window in Rope) to the more elaborate (missing the bus in the opening sequence of North by Northwest). In Dial M for Murder, his cameo falls somewhere in between. He appears in a class reunion photo in the Wendice apartment, seated at a banquet table among other men.

11. IT’S BEEN REMADE FOUR TIMES.

Michael Douglas and Gwyneth Paltrow in 'A Perfect Murder' (1998)
Warner Bros.

Dial M for Murder was a film adaptation of a stage play that had also already been adapted for television in Britain, and it proved popular enough that four more adaptations followed. In 1958, NBC broadcast a Hallmark Hall of Fame production, in which both Anthony Dawson and John Williams returned to play Swann and Chief Inspector Hubbard, respectively. A 1967 ABC television production of the play co-starred Laurence Harvey and Diane Cilento. A television movie starring Angie Dickinson and Christopher Plummer was produced in 1981, and in 1998 the play served as the inspiration for the film A Perfect Murder, starring Michael Douglas and Gwyneth Paltrow.

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