Sunday, August 4, 2019

Angela Lansbury and Raymond Burr in Please Murder Me! (1956)

Angela Lansbury and Raymon Burr in the film noir Please Murder Me! from 1956

Angela Lansbury has been synonymous with Disney and Jessica Fletcher for so long that it's hard to remember that she was an actress long before she ever jumped on the Disney bandwagon. It's even harder to realize that she played some pretty unpleasant characters. She was the "other" woman opposite Judy Garland and John Hodiak in Harvey Girls which I love and reviewed HERE. She was also absurdly cast as Elvis Presley's mother in Blue Hawaii and even as Queen Anne in The Three Musketeers that starred Gene Kelley as D'Artagnan.

And now I've seen her in an even more startling deviation, as accused murderess in the 1956 black and white film noir Please Murder Me! opposite Raymond Burr.

Please Murder Me! - Angela Lansbury and Raymond Burr sitting at a desk

This film noir is a surprising treat. I've only ever seen Angela in those random films mentioned above and I honestly can't recall a single experience with Raymond Burr so he was completely new to me.

The story itself doesn't take long to tell.

Go to my Classic Hollywood page to find all my Classic Hollywood reviews!

It's an age old tale of manipulation and murder. Raymond Burr plays attorney Craig Carlson who has been best friends with Joe Leeds since they served in WWII together. Joe even saved Craig's life. Unfortunately, Joe's marriage to his lovely wife Myra, played by Angela Lansbury, doesn't have a lot of life in it anymore. In her dissatisfaction, Myra turns to Craig and before he knows it, Craig has to tell Joe that his wife has ceased to love him and wants a divorce. I'm not sure how someone can be the divorce attorney and the "other" man, but I guess he was going to give it the old school try.

Joe asks for a few days to think over his conversation with Craig. He hasn't been especially happy in their marriage either. But the next thing we hear is that he attacked Myra in their home and she shot him in self defense. Now Joe is out of the way and Craig must plead Myra's case of self-defense before a jury of peers.

Please Murder Me! - Angela Lansbury pointing a revolver

As in the better film noir, not everything is as it seems, but I didn't expect Please Murder Me! to end on quite such an unusual note. In fact, I would consider this film to be much better than its title indicates. The one major downside is that the movie, at least the DVD copy my sister brought home from the library, is not super well-preserved. If it has been then I suspect it could share space with Dial M for Murder and Gaslight (another film with a super young Angela Lansbury, as it happens).

I've literally spent years pondering what fashion style best suits Angela Lansbury, and I believe she appears to her finest advantage in the simplistic yet elegant 1950s fashion she wears in this film. Most of the garments suited her extremely well, especially the gown she wears at the beginning when you're first introduced to her.

Raymond Burr did a fine job as Craig Carlson and I may see if I can hunt down more of his films, perhaps in the same genre as Please Murder Me! since he performed so superbly.

If you're at all a fan of film noir, then you must give Please Murder Me! a try. It's not a long film, just a little over an hour, and really deserves more acclaim than modern audiences are willing to give it.

2 yorum:

  1. Hi! I'm Tarissa. :)

    Just found your blog, hopping over from Bev's. Loving everything on your blog so far!

    I'm very fond of old black and white films myself. I haven't seen this one with Angela Lansbury though. I'm intrigued and would love to watch it after hearing everything you shared about it. And I'll have to pay close attention to the fashion choices for her too. :D

    Tarissa @ In the Bookcase

    1. Hi, Tarissa! Thanks so much for your charming compliment!

      You absolutely should give Please Murder Me! a try, if for no other reason than seeing Angela in a different role than her usual fare.

      I'll be returning the favor with a visit to your blog shortly! :)


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