Alfred Hitchcock‘s Dial M For Murder may well have been composed so that 1.85 projections would look presentable, but that doesn’t mean that a 1.78 or 1.85 version will look better than the basic and very pleasing boxy proportion that people have been watching for decades.
I’ve been examining Dial M for Murder all my life at 1.33 or 1.37. I saw it in 1.33 or 1.37 3D at the Eighth Street Playhouse in the West Village in the early ’80s. And the compositions and framings were and are entirely satisfactory and didn’t need to have their tops and buttons CHOPPED OFF WITH A MEAT CLEAVER.
The 1.78 or 1.85 a.r. on the Dial M For Murder Bluray was favored because of one reason only — because this a.r. conforms to the 16 x 9 aspect ratio of high-def flat panels. The people who made this call were nothing but a FASCIST REVISIONIST GANG.
“We have a vision,” their manifesto reads. ‘A vision of all films shot from the early ’50s to mid ’60s with their tops and bottoms CHOPPED OFF, and we will stop at nothing to achieve that goal. Because of 16 x 9 high-def screens, we are committed to killing visual information. And we will succeed because we have the factual data and research to back up the assertion that these films were shot to be shown at 1.85, but could also be shown at 1.33 or 1.37 for purist film buff screenings and for television airings and VHS and DVD versions.
“Repeat after us: WE HAVE A VISION, and it is about KILLING VISUAL INFORMATION by slicing off the tops and bottoms of films.”
These films look completely fine and have much more breathing space at 1.33 or 1.37 and in fact are VISUALLY PREFERRED this way by the Movie Godz and all good men of taste and conscience.
I feel like Gregory Peck‘s Captain Ahab at the end of Moby Dick: “Oh, damn thee, 1.85 aspect-ratio fascists! To the last I grapple with thee. From hell’s heart I stab at thee. For hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee!”