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25 Facts About Lethal Weapon

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On March 6, 1987, moviegoers met Roger Murtaugh and Martin Riggs, an unlikely pair of Los Angeles cops, played by Danny Glover and Mel Gibson, respectively. With Lethal Weapon, screenwriter Shane Black wrote a progenitor of the buddy-cop genre, expertly combining an action-thriller with dark humor. For a script that took only six weeks to write, Black earned a whopping $250,000 paycheck—and then another $150,000 after the movie was produced.

The Richard Donner-directed movie grossed more than $120 million worldwide (more than half of that domestically) on a $15 million budget. With a franchise comprised of four films, it generated almost $1 billion in ticket sales worldwide. As Lethal Weapon makes its way back to audiences, this time via the small screen, here are 25 dynamite facts about the Lethal Weapon series.

1. THE FIRST SCRIPT WAS THROWN IN THE GARBAGE.

Shane Black was 23 years old and trying to become an actor when he wrote the first draft of Lethal Weapon in less than six weeks. Not knowing what a huge hit he had on his hands, at one point Black gave up and threw the script into the trash. "I thought it was dreadful," Black admitted.

2. SHANE BLACK SET OUT TO WRITE AN “URBAN WESTERN,” MIXED WITH FRANKENSTEIN.

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“What I was looking to do at that time was write a urban western,” Black said. For Riggs, Black used one of his favorite films, Dirty Harry, as a template. “That’s what I was thinking about for that character, sort of the Frankenstein who everybody reviles ... for what he did, for what he’s capable of, for the things he still believes in. Because we think that we’re all placid and tame, but in fact violence intrudes in a horrible way and then they have to knock on Frankenstein’s cage and say, 'Well we kind of need what you do even though we hate and revile you. Please come out and kill these people for us,' and it’s the old gun slinger."

3. LEONARD NIMOY WAS OFFERED THE DIRECTOR'S CHAIR.

Richard Donner ended up directing all four of the Lethal Weapon films, but that only happened after Leonard Nimoy—who had just shown his directing chops behind the camera on Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984), Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986), and 3 Men and a Baby (1987)—turned down directing Lethal Weapon to concentrate on The Good Mother (1988).

4. DONNER TONED DOWN THE SCRIPT'S VIOLENCE, AND WAS INFLUENCED BY JOHN WAYNE.

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''I tried to make it more like an old-fashioned western,'' Donner told The New York Times. ''Sure there were a lot of deaths, but they died like they died in westerns. They were shot with bullets, they weren't dismembered. I like action and a strong story line. I like to turn my head away in suspense, not in disgust. I think the audiences feel like I do, and that's why people like the film and come back to see it a second time.'' This contrasted with Frank's descriptions of the deaths in the script, where "the head disintegrates in a bloody spray." Donner claimed John Wayne fans would recognize some of the punches thrown by Mel Gibson and Gary Busey from the John Wayne film Red River (1948).

5. THE MOVIE WORKED BECAUSE OF “REAL CHARACTERS.”

In a 2012 reunion interview with Empire Magazine, Mel Gibson said buddy-cop movies prior to Lethal Weapon “were all a little two-dimensional. The heroes would grunt; they wouldn’t express themselves much. But Riggs and Murtaugh were real characters.”

“It’s the humor, mixed with the action and the special effects,” Danny Glover added. “All that came together at that particular time. And the chemistry between the two of us was undeniable.” Donner agreed: “You don’t find [chemistry] in real life very often, much less on the screen," said the director. "But it works. People care about them.” Gibson described filming Lethal Weapon as “pure fun,” and Donner said “there was uncontrollable laughter at times.”

“And it’s been emulated so much and referred to so often,” Gibson said. The 1993 film Loaded Weapon 1 (a sequel, thankfully, wasn’t made), starring Emilio Estevez and Samuel L. Jackson, parodied Lethal Weapon 1 through 3. “If something works and people are sending it up and knocking it off, you’ve got to be flattered,” Gibson told Empire.

6. THE ORIGINAL FILM HAD A DIFFERENT OPENING AND ENDING.

The first time we see Riggs in Lethal Weapon is at his beachfront trailer, with his dog, smoking and drinking while walking around naked. In an earlier draft of the script, Riggs drinks with dock workers who torment a dog, and Riggs makes “mincemeat” out of the guys. The original ending (above) featured Riggs and Murtaugh saying goodbye to each other, and Riggs telling Murtaugh not to quit the force, because he’s too old. But in the theatrical ending, Riggs shows up at Murtaugh’s house on Christmas. “If you think I’m going to eat the world’s lousiest Christmas turkey by myself, you’re crazy,” Murtaugh tells him. “I’ll tell you a little secret: I’m not crazy,” Riggs responds. Riggs and his dog agree to stay for dinner. 

Besides the re-shot ending, a couple of scenes were left out of the film (they were included in the Director’s Cut), one in which Riggs attacks a sniper who’s shooting at a playground, and a scene where Riggs pays a prostitute to watch TV with him.

7. THE ACTORS WERE TRAINED IN THREE DIFFERENT FORMS OF MARTIAL ARTS.

To prepare for their roles, the actors learned a trio of martial arts techniques, including Capoeira, Jailhouse Rock (a fighting technique that originated in United States prisons), and Jiu-Jitsu. Gary Busey recalled also learning Taekwondo as well. Busey's interest in martial arts began when he was taught these forms for Lethal Weapon.

8. LOOK CLOSELY AND IT TURNS INTO A MESSAGE MOVIE.

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If you pay attention to stuff in the background, you’ll notice a “Free South Africa, End Apartheid” sticker on the Murtaughs’ fridge in the first film, and other messages like anti-NRA and anti-tuna posters. “If you can make a good entertainment and sneak a message in, super,” Donner told Empire. “Sometimes people do it ass-backwards: make message films and then sneak the entertainment in.” Viewers definitely noticed; because of the sticker and South African-themed plot of the second film, Donner received death threats.

9. MURTAUGH WASN’T WRITTEN WITH A PARTICULAR ETHNICITY IN MIND.

Nowhere in the script does it mention Murtaugh's ethnicity. “We just got the best actor that we could for the part, and it happened to be he was black,” Donner said during a 1987 press conference for the move. In the interview with Empire, Donner explained that it was casting director Marion Dougherty who suggested Glover. “She said to me, ‘Did you see The Color Purple? What about Danny Glover?’ And my first reaction was, ‘But he’s black!’ And then I thought, ‘Whoa, f*ck, here’s Mr. Liberal. What a brilliant idea...’ I felt stupid. It changed my way of thinking.” 

10. GIBSON AND GLOVER BONDED IN REAL LIFE.

Friendship—both on- and off-screen—is one reason the four films were so successful. “It parallels the police relationship,” Gibson said of his relationship with Glover. “A lot of those guys become friends or become dependent on each other. They get a bond through desperation. Because we used to go out on night patrols, you get this feeling of vulnerability. It’s the same with the film. It’s kind of a feeling of desperation in a way. It’s scary when you embark on something like that because you’re exposing yourself in a way, so a bond forms. And he’s a good actor and a nice guy. So it normally happened; it was easy.”

11. DISNEYLAND (AND MICKEY ROURKE) SPROUTED JOE PESCI’S LEO GETZ.

The loquacious, foul-mouthed Leo Getz makes his first appearance in Lethal Weapon 2, spouting the catchphrase “okay, okay, okay.” The origin of the repetitive expression occurred when Mickey Rourke and Pesci went to Disneyland. “Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons were singing at Frontierland, so we stopped to ask for directions from these blond-headed, blue-eyed kids,” Pesci told Empire. “I think they were Mormons probably. And the first word out of this kid’s mouth was, ‘Okay!’ Then he hit me with about 12 more: ‘No, no! Okay, okay, okay!’ We thought it was really funny.”

12. GARY BUSEY THOUGHT ABOUT A SHARK WHILE PREPPING HIS BAD GUY ROLE.

The actor played Mr. Joshua in the first Lethal Weapon, and is one of Donner’s favorite villains in the series. “I always build a back story for my characters, to get in the mood of it,” Busey told Empire, For this role, he went to an unusual place. “Mr. Joshua, he would walk through his grandmother’s blood to get a postage stamp and never look at her. I had this look, here,” Busey said, and then took off his sunglasses. “It gave me the eyes of a shark, which has no life. It’s neat doing that.”

13. RIGGS WAS SUPPOSED TO DIE IN THE SECOND MOVIE.

“We were always teetering on the brink of bumping Riggs off,” Gibson told Empire, and the idea almost manifested in the second film. During the period when Black wrote the sequel, he said he was “a real wreck psychologically.” “They put me on the sequel and it was one of the hardest scripts I’ve ever written,” Black told Creative Screenwriting. “I was so terrified of it, at the end of the process I looked at the script and thought, I’d really blown it. I wrote it with a friend of mine, a guy named Warren Murphy. They said they didn’t like that the character died at the end, and I thought, ‘Oh, I’ve failed everybody, I screwed up, I blew it. My writing sucks.’” Black said when he re-read his script, he realized it wasn’t so bad. “There’s no question the draft of Lethal Weapon 2 that I wrote, death and all, is my best work.”

14. THE CARPENTER'S COMMENT ABOUT THE CONDOM COMMERCIAL WAS IMPROVISED.

In Lethal Weapon 2, Jack McGee played "Carpenter" in the scene where everyone gathers around to see Murtaugh's daughter Rianne (Traci Wolfe) in a condom commercial. During rehearsal, Gibson set McGee up by asking what he thought of what he had just seen. "I said, 'I thought she was great. She made me wanna go out and buy rubbers right now.' Danny Glover, in the rehearsal, spit his f*cking sandwich across the room, and it wound up staying in the movie." Fun fact: The year before Lethal Weapon 2's release, McGee played "Carpenter" in Scrooged.

15. $10,000 OF LETHAL WEAPON 2'S BUDGET CAME FROM CONDOMS.

In a product placement deal, the makers of Ramses condoms paid more than $10,000 to showcase their product in Lethal Weapon 2.

16. CARRIE FISHER HELPED WRITE LETHAL WEAPON 3.

After Carrie Fisher's success in adapting her own semi-autobiography Postcards From the Edge (1990) to film, the actress was hired as a script doctor for several major movies. In addition to punching up the dialogue for Lethal Weapon 3, she worked on Hook (1991), Sister Act (1992), Outbreak (1995), The Wedding Singer (1998), and even the Star Wars prequels.

17. RENE RUSSO BLEW HER AUDITION.

Rene Russo would not have gotten the part of Lorna Cole in Lethal Weapon 3 (or Lethal Weapon 4) if she had been judged solely on her first audition. "I was bad," Russo told the Chicago Tribune in 1992. "I could feel I was dying." Donner thought she "lacked the edge" needed for Cole.

“I went back and showed him my street girl and told him that when I said, ‘get against the f*cking wall,’ people were going to believe me,” Russo told The Independent. She told the Los Angeles Times, “When I did Lethal Weapon, they needed someone who could say 'you' with a gun and mean it—and because I was able to do that, I was pigeonholed in that way.” Though she liked playing tough, Russo says should would have liked to have done more romantic comedies.

18. ORLANDO ASKED THAT ITS CITY HALL BE BLOWN UP FOR LETHAL WEAPON 3.

In 1991, a new, $36 million City Hall opened in Orlando, Florida, but the old one needed to be demolished. Local producer Ross Testagrossa contacted Lethal Weapon 3 producer Joel Silver, who was looking for a building to blow up. On October 25, 1991, the building imploded. “We did the explosion in pieces,” Donner told Empire. “When you guys ran out of the building, we blew all the glass. And you were really there when the big detonation happened. I’m sure you felt that blast.”

“We were jumpy as hell,” Gibson admitted. “We knew the building was coming down and we were ready to sprint. When we took off, I thought, ‘I’d better slow down for [Glover]’—but he actually ran right past me.”

It wasn’t the only Florida building to be demolished for the film: The old hotel that blows up during the closing credits was the scheduled-for-demolition Soreno Hotel in St. Petersburg, Florida. The city's name was misspelled in the credits.

19. LEO GETZ AND LEE BUTTERS WERE NOT IN THE ORIGINAL LETHAL WEAPON 4 SCRIPT.

Pesci was re-signed at the last minute for $1 million for three weeks of work. Chris Rock (Detective Lee Butters) did not join until Gibson was three-fourths through his latest draft. Writing on the script continued during filming.

20. LETHAL WEAPON 4 WAS MADE FASTER THAN THE OTHER FILMS.

A Den Of Geek article explained Warner Bros. was desperate for a hit, so they ordered a fourth installment—but it had to be ready in six months. Production didn’t begin until January 1998 but the movie needed to be released in July. After production ended, editor Frank J. Urioste had only four weeks to edit the movie, doing it digitally on an Avid for the first time. Luckily for Warner Bros. the film grossed $285 million worldwide, slightly less than Lethal Weapon 3’s 1992 haul of $321 million worldwide.

21. JET LI MADE HIS HOLLYWOOD DEBUT IN LETHAL WEAPON 4.

Jet Li had never been in an English language film, nor had he ever played a bad guy before portraying Wah Sing Ku. Li told CNN that a lot of Asian audiences and reporters didn't like the idea of him acting as a villain. In his next Hollywood film, 2000's Romeo Must Die, he got to play a good guy.

22. JEFFREY BOAM WROTE A LETHAL WEAPON 4 SCRIPT ABOUT NEO-NAZIS.

Jeffrey Boam, who wrote the second and third installments of Lethal Weapon, was tasked with writing a draft for the fourth film, too. It involved Neo-Nazis as the enemy, as well as a terrorist attack. The producers passed on Boam's script and opted for one penned by Murder One creator Channing Gibson, who had only worked in television previously.

23. SHANE BLACK LIKES SETTING HIS MOVIES DURING CHRISTMASTIME BECAUSE “IT’S UNIFYING.”

Lethal Weapon takes place at Christmastime, as do several other Black-penned films, including The Long Kiss Goodnight, The Last Boy Scout, and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. “Christmas is fun,” Black told Den Of Geek. “It’s unifying, and all your characters are involved in this event that stays within the larger story ... It grounds everything. At Christmas, lonely people are lonelier, seeing friends and families go by. People take ... stock of where their lives are at Christmas. It just provides a backdrop against which different things can play out, but with one unifying, global heading. I’ve always liked it, especially in thrillers, for some reason. It’s a touch of magic.”

24. INSTEAD OF A FIFTH FILM, AUDIENCES ARE GETTING A TELEVISION SERIES.

For years, Lethal Weapon 5 was reportedly in the works; in 2014 it was titled Lionhunters, and Chris Hemsworth and director Justin Lin were attached. Mel Gibson turned down reprising his role, as did Donner. “I would like to think that Mel turned it down because I wasn’t involved,” Donner told the Los Angeles Times. “Knowing Mel, I would like to think that. Would that be the kind of thing he does? It sure would be.” In February 2016, Fox greenlit a pilot for a TV adaptation, starring Damon Wayans as Murtaugh. The series, which features Clayne Crawford as Riggs, kicks off tonight on Fox.

25. BUT IF THERE WAS A FIFTH FILM, IT WOULD INVOLVE A MOTOR HOME.

Black reportedly wrote a treatment for a fifth film, but Donner didn’t see it. The director told Empire what his version would be like: “The two crazies decide to cool their lives, but it’s impossible for them to stay out of situations. It starts with Riggs and Murtaugh out in the country in a motor home. They’re on a trip and they stop to get gas, but Roger forgets to put the brake on. So the motor home rolls through a village, annihilating everything, and they get in serious trouble. It had a lot of heart, a lot of family. Rene [Russo], Darlene [Love], they would all have come back.”

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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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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