“Dial M for Murder” is a classic. It’s one of Hitchcock’s most popular films, starring Grace Kelly, Ray Milland and Robert Cummings; it’s hard to forget. But I’m not seeking it out to see again. This time it would be a period piece. The technology has changed too much.
Communications technology has been changing very quickly. We’ve gone from a few tech heads with big clumsy cell phones to ubiquitous smart phones (with cameras, video, email) in nearly everyone’s hands. All the stories that begin with a flat tire or overheated engine on a lonely road at night are completely altered by mobile phones and subscription support and navigation systems in new cars.
The premise, the very idea, of being completely lost and alone and out-of-reach is getting harder to achieve in a credible setting. I lost power for five days after Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast last October. I became acutely aware of how tied together we are by technology. The cell towers were down in my part of the city. My friend Brigitta found me by walking to my building, climbing up the four flights and leaving a note because I wasn’t there. I’d walked over to my parents, climbed up the six flights and that’s where brilliant Brigitta found me — yes, she climbed up the six flights, after the four flights…
After sunset, it was really dark!
Darkness made it very spooky. New York is never that dark. The situation was ripe for mystery, mayhem and even murder, but the city remained calm. New Yorkers were too busy trying to get bars on their phones to even consider anything more nefarious. Still, I’m not looking forward to a repeat — but if it comes I have a crank-up radio, a super bright long-term battery lantern and a cool collection of mini flashlights.
I’m ready to face the darkness.