Dial M for Murder BBC 1974

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felixdembinski
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Dial M for Murder BBC 1974

Post by felixdembinski »

I've been interested in this series for a while, and yesterday I found that an episode had appeared on youtube, on a channel dedicated to the actor Ian Hendry (Ian Hendry was in the episode). The title of the video says that it was previously lost, although this might only be refering to the fact that the series has never been released (lost shows says it exists in full). There is an oddity in the credits though, it says 'A BBC TV PRODUCTION in association with WARNER BROS. TELEVISION'. I've never heard of any other BBC show being produced like this.
Another thing that I wanted to know was this, the series was produced by Jordan Lawrence, and shared a lot of the same writers and directors as his more well know, and sadly mostly lost show MENACE. Was DIAL M FOR MURDER a kind of season 3 of Menace, as the episode I just saw (CONTRACT) seemed like it could fit in with the existing episodes of Menace that i have seen.

Koen
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Re: Dial M for Murder BBC 1974

Post by Koen »

There's also a German TV version (Bei Anruf Mord), recorded in 1959. Here's an official DVD trailer...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hnq6DyZ7uXY

Richard Bignell
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Re: Dial M for Murder BBC 1974

Post by Richard Bignell »

felixdembinski wrote:There is an oddity in the credits though, it says 'A BBC TV PRODUCTION in association with WARNER BROS. TELEVISION'. I've never heard of any other BBC show being produced like this.
'Jack the Ripper' from 1973 was a part-funded by on of the big US studios, but for the life of me, I can't recall which.

stuartfanning
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Re: Dial M for Murder BBC 1974

Post by stuartfanning »

felixdembinski wrote:I've been interested in this series for a while, and yesterday I found that an episode had appeared on youtube, on a channel dedicated to the actor Ian Hendry (Ian Hendry was in the episode). The title of the video says that it was previously lost, although this might only be refering to the fact that the series has never been released (lost shows says it exists in full). There is an oddity in the credits though, it says 'A BBC TV PRODUCTION in association with WARNER BROS. TELEVISION'. I've never heard of any other BBC show being produced like this.
Another thing that I wanted to know was this, the series was produced by Jordan Lawrence, and shared a lot of the same writers and directors as his more well know, and sadly mostly lost show MENACE. Was DIAL M FOR MURDER a kind of season 3 of Menace, as the episode I just saw (CONTRACT) seemed like it could fit in with the existing episodes of Menace that i have seen.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cnHY3Tnr6GY

Richardr1
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Re: Dial M for Murder BBC 1974

Post by Richardr1 »

felixdembinski wrote:There is an oddity in the credits though, it says 'A BBC TV PRODUCTION in association with WARNER BROS. TELEVISION'. I've never heard of any other BBC show being produced like this.
Wasn't Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy produced with Paramount?

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Simon Coward
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Re: Dial M for Murder BBC 1974

Post by Simon Coward »

felixdembinski wrote: 'A BBC TV PRODUCTION in association with WARNER BROS. TELEVISION'. I've never heard of any other BBC show being produced like this.
Might it be some kind of "vanity credit" in relation to Warners owning film or television rights to the other "Dial M for Murder" as a result of the Hitchcock film of that name...

The key thing about the BBC's "Dial M" is that all the stories involved the telephone in some way (or at least that was the plan, I don't know much about the series, to be honest) so maybe it was intended as some kind of "Menace by Telephone".
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boblet
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Re: Dial M for Murder BBC 1974

Post by boblet »

Moonbase 3 has, after the director credit and copyright date: "A BBC TV production in association with 20th Century Fox" (or words to that effect, can't find the DVD at the moment).

Ooh, just remembered Colditz: "A BBC TV production in association with Universal".

ian b
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Re: Dial M for Murder BBC 1974

Post by ian b »

Usually at very the end, in order that they could be faded out before the home audience ever got to see 'em.

It usually just meant that some other broadcaster had stumped up some production cash ahead of production - or that, as Simon has said, another company traded certain rights that it held in return for a small cash payment and a credit.

PAUL TEMPLE series 2-4 falls into the former category (German money).

There's more ot there than you'd readily know - some only come to our attention when full recordings are used for dvd release.

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Re: Dial M for Murder BBC 1974

Post by JWG »

Googling brought up that 'Life on Earth' was done by the BBC in association with Warner Brothers and Reiner Moritz Productions.
Or doesn't that count? (Remember I'm new here).

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Re: Dial M for Murder BBC 1974

Post by Mark »

Yeahh..that counts JWG..!

There was also an early 60's Airport Security Drama, called "Zero One", with an excellent cast, courtesy of a BBC/MGM combo.
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fatcat
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Re: Dial M for Murder BBC 1974

Post by fatcat »

That would be an interesting find, the version of Dial M For Murder starring Lawrence Harvey,Diana Cilento and Cyril Cusack as the inspector.
This came from Rediffusion's colour (mostly VTR) series Star Performance.
This apparently survives along with 'Dare I Weep Dare I Mourn' (James Mason) and
The Human Voice (Ingrid Bergman) Extract- The Human Voice


Missing though is a great deal including an early leading performance from Peter Falk

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Re: Dial M for Murder BBC 1974

Post by JWG »

There was a 'Dial M' as a Sunday Night Play in 1962,though that's missing.The Star Performance version is held at the UCLA and Paley Centre,I believe.

O/T but the James Mason 'Star Performance' is on Youtube,The Human Voice is on DVD.

I take it there's no way that TV adaptations can be suppressed when the options move to others,as happened with the film 'Gaslight'?

And while I can understand the temptation to use the title 'Dial M For Murder',in the same way that 'Honey.I Shrunk the....' still turns up everywhere,surely if you're doing this sort of series,there's no problem with calling it 'Death Calling','Dial a Deadly Number' or something equally innocuous? How well Roald Dahl's 'Have a Nice Death' (from Tales of the Unexpected) would have fitted in with this premise.

ian b
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Re: Dial M for Murder BBC 1974

Post by ian b »

There's also THE THIRD MAN series, which was a co-production.

And series of the "you-get-the-rights-but-we-get-an-on-screen-credit" sort include the Rupert Davies MAIGRET, POLDAK and I CLAUDIUS.

The BBC's THE FORSYTE SAGA was only possible because of a deal with MGM, who held the rights to (at least the first novel), which they had filmed as THAT FORSYTE WOMAN in the late 40s.*

While MGM didn't get an on screen tip of the hat, the trade off there was that they were granted some of the international distribution rights in return.


*The film ITV screened almost as soon as it got a colour service, off the back of the success of the BBC serial preumably.

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Bob Richardson
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Re: Dial M for Murder BBC 1974

Post by Bob Richardson »

JWG wrote:Googling brought up that 'Life on Earth' was done by the BBC in association with Warner Brothers and Reiner Moritz Productions.
...which proved a financial disaster for BBC Enterprises. In exchange for a substantial contribution to production costs, Reiner Moritz was given worldwide distribution rights, depriving the Corporation's commercial arm of a lot of income. I don't believe that such an arrangement was ever entered into again for an Attenborough wildlife series.
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fatcat
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Re: Dial M for Murder BBC 1974

Post by fatcat »

Bob Richardson wrote:
JWG wrote:Googling brought up that 'Life on Earth' was done by the BBC in association with Warner Brothers and Reiner Moritz Productions.
...which proved a financial disaster for BBC Enterprises. In exchange for a substantial contribution to production costs, Reiner Moritz was given worldwide distribution rights, depriving the Corporation's commercial arm of a lot of income. I don't believe that such an arrangement was ever entered into again for an Attenborough wildlife series.

Didn't the BBC do the same with Monty Python?
.. let Michael Palin(on behalf of the team) have the US rights for peanuts in 1975 because they thought the show had run its course and was ready for the eraser?

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Westengland
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Re: Dial M for Murder BBC 1974

Post by Westengland »

[align=left][/align]I saw a few episodes of Dial M for Murder when it was first broadcast, in 1974. I can state what I remember and the little factual information I currently have access to but most of my comments will use or imply "AFAIK" and "IIRC" somewhere. My memory of it is that it is definitely not a unjustly forgotten series.

DMFM, thirteen episodes of fifty-minute stand-alone plays, shot, IIRC, wholly on video tape (seen by me on a black-and-white television), was shown on BBC-1 from May to August 1974, on Mondays at 21:25-22:15, following the main evening news, playing against Hunter's Walk for most of its run.

It wasn't repeated during the then usual two-year period and, AFAIK, has never been seen on a UK terrestrial channel since its original transmission. I assume the reason DMFM has survived intact is due to the terms of the BBC deal with Warners Bros Television (which may also have had an influence in it remaining unused for almost forty years).

Warners may have come to the BBC with the title it owned and the idea for a co-production and DMFM was developed from there. What Warners got from the BBC was a cast and crew drawn from those who had worked separately and together in several critically successful series in the UK (and a number of the leading players were actors the American audience would have known of). The BBC got an opportunity to make a prime-time drama series with that cast and crew with the possibilities of international sales, at a time of serious national economic problems.

As ever, you have to consider when a television programme was made and shown and what was happening in the country that made it. By 1974 a lot of the products of the Golden Age were beginning to become stale, including police procedurals, detective and thriller series, even allowing for the influence of the inevitable benefit of hindsight now, forty-odd years on.

At the time, in the reviews, IIRC, there was comment about the co-production and its effect on the quality of the drama. Then as now, co-pros have to strike a balance between the producers' interests. In the seventies, the British consensus (sic) was that a UK/USA drama series co-pro could create a difficult Transatlantic fudge and IIRC, DMFM was set in "Britland" rather than places that UK viewers would know were different regions and places in The Isles. This may be a reason, along with any backroom/boardroom problems (including the consensus, again, about the BBC working with "commercial" companies - and mainstream American ones at that), why DMFM remained a one-off both as series and co-pro arrangement.

The drama of DMFM was around a telephone, its use and its effects as one of the main plot devices. None of the episodes, IIRC, used plots that were about about aspects of telephones in the UK that foreigners would have difficulty in understanding. For example: there was nothing about the then just becoming public knowledge that the Post Office logged all the phone numbers called from and received by everyone of its subscribers - and a playwright in the early seventies who presented a script to the BBC or ITV that included mention of a certain place in Cheltenham monitoring every international telecommunications activity in the UK, using the most advanced equipment in the world, could have found themselves in serious trouble.

The other main part of each DMFM episode was, unsurprisingly, murder -a dramatic device that UK television drama had held back from using too often for most of its existence, as with other melodrama cliches.

I can't see any reasons, apart from the usual legal and viability ones, why Dial M For Murder can't be both shown on television and released on DVD, considering what had been rebroadcast and released now.
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Bernie
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Re: Dial M for Murder BBC 1974

Post by Bernie »

Bob Richardson wrote: ...which proved a financial disaster for BBC Enterprises. In exchange for a substantial contribution to production costs, Reiner Moritz was given worldwide distribution rights, depriving the Corporation's commercial arm of a lot of income. I don't believe that such an arrangement was ever entered into again for an Attenborough wildlife series.
I was once told that the budget for one of those big wildlife programmes is "whatever you want" because the sales far outrun anything they can spend on making them.

B

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Re: Dial M for Murder BBC 1974

Post by Brian F »

boblet wrote:Moonbase 3 has, after the director credit and copyright date: "A BBC TV production in association with 20th Century Fox" (or words to that effect, can't find the DVD at the moment).
Yes that's what my copy has on it and thankfully Fox kept their copies.

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Re: Dial M for Murder BBC 1974

Post by JWG »

Hopefully being a co-production means that a show is more likely to survive,and survive on film.Or have I got it wrong?

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Re: Dial M for Murder BBC 1974

Post by ian b »

Westengland wrote:[align=left][/align]I saw a few episodes of Dial M for Murder when it was first broadcast, in 1974. I can state what I remember and the little factual information I currently have access to but most of my comments will use or imply "AFAIK" and "IIRC" somewhere. My memory of it is that it is definitely not a unjustly forgotten series.

DMFM, thirteen episodes of fifty-minute stand-alone plays, shot, IIRC, wholly on video tape...
In fact, two of them (THE VINEYARD and FIRING POINT) are all film productions.

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Re: Dial M for Murder BBC 1974

Post by fatcat »

Bernie wrote:I was once told that the budget for one of those big wildlife programmes is "whatever you want" because the sales far outrun anything they can spend on making them.

B
Hadn't thought of that. I suppose its a big drama production verses a bloke with a camera and his flask and sandwiches
and both can pull in huge ratings?

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Bob Richardson
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Re: Dial M for Murder BBC 1974

Post by Bob Richardson »

fatcat wrote:
Bob Richardson wrote:
JWG wrote:Googling brought up that 'Life on Earth' was done by the BBC in association with Warner Brothers and Reiner Moritz Productions.
...which proved a financial disaster for BBC Enterprises. In exchange for a substantial contribution to production costs, Reiner Moritz was given worldwide distribution rights, depriving the Corporation's commercial arm of a lot of income. I don't believe that such an arrangement was ever entered into again for an Attenborough wildlife series.

Didn't the BBC do the same with Monty Python?
.. let Michael Palin(on behalf of the team) have the US rights for peanuts in 1975 because they thought the show had run its course and was ready for the eraser?
The Python story was more complicated than that. The series was sold to the USA on the understanding that episodes were to be transmitted exactly as screened in the UK, since they weren't just a rag-bag collection of sketches (as was the case, for example, with some of the Spike Milligan "Q" series where the editing suite had a board covered in Post-It notes to represent sketches, which were swapped around between episodes). Each Python show was carefully constructed, with running gags (Dennis Moore, Spanish Inquisition etc). Anyway, when the Python shows reached the States they were hacked about and new compilations were created, which didn't do the series any favours. The Pythons sued the BBC's commercial arm, BBC Enterprises, and were able to purchase the rights to their shows as part of the legal settlement.
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Re: Dial M for Murder BBC 1974

Post by brigham »

The BBC's first television drama was a co-production with a commercial company; although not, thankfully, an American one.

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