Please Murder Me (1956)

Please Murder Me (1956)
Please Murder Me Poster Please Murder Me (1956)

Run time: 78 min
Rating: 6.1
Genres: Crime | Drama | Thriller
Director: Peter Godfrey
Writers: Al C. Ward, Donald Hyde
Stars: Angela Lansbury, Raymond Burr, Dick Foran
A lawyer wins an acquittal for his client, a woman accused of murder. After the verdict, he finds out that she indeed did commit the murder and manipulated him to win her acquittal. Guilt-ridden, and knowing that she can’t be tried again for the murder, he devises a plan to bring her to justice. Written by
Release Date: March 1956 (USA)

4 responses to “Please Murder Me (1956)”

  1. IMDBReviewer says:

    This excellent thriller is one, if not the only, starring role for Raymond Burr in the movies, one year before he became Perry Mason on TV. Here he is a lawyer too, who brings out the acquittal of his client (Angela Lansbury)accused of murder, only to discover after the verdict, that she really is guilty as hell. Obsessed with his love of Justice, he devises a clever plan to by-pass the double jeopardy immunity, and arranges for her to be caught red-handed after committing another murder… with him as the victim!

  2. rgkeenan says:

    The movie starts with Attorney Craig Carlson dictating the circumstances of his own upcoming murder into a tape recorder. Through a series of flashbacks we find out that he has a problem – his best friend's wife (Lansbury) comes to him for help in a divorce. Then another problem – he falls in love with her. Then another problem – she shoots her husband in self-defense. Now he has to defend her from a murder rap.

    He gets her acquitted and they get engaged. All is well!! Of course not – why would the movie be over in twenty minutes? Let's just say that his tidy little circumstances rapidly grow complicated. His awareness of his changing situation, and his reaction to it, make for an interesting psychological development.

    Burr was a good actor and the camera focuses in on his brooding face. It takes a while to find out that Lansbury's performance is more subtle than you might think.

    The movie is economically directed – witness how the attorney picks up his gun in the opening shots. No dialog, just a brief sequence of visuals, and the plot advances. Well written, with good supporting performances, including a youngish and slim Denver Pyle. Nice unknown movie.

  3. IMDBReviewer says:

    It's a pity this little (apparently independent?) film noir has not merited a decent restoration and DVD reissue (no one apparently bothered to renew the copyright so scratchy prints were out for a while in 1995 on VHS on "Nostalgia Family Video" and it has been anthologized in a DVD box of "13 Murder Movies"), because the elements in the film are considerably above the "B" film it's usually assumed to be and later work of those involved would be undeniably important. It isn't a great film, but given those elements, it certainly is an interesting one.

    The basic flashback form of the story telling is an echo almost too close for comfort of 1944's classic DOUBLE INDEMNITY – with the characters dictating the explanation bound for similar fates; in fact, in the film's chief failing, the original ad campaign for PLEASE MURDER ME! gave away virtually every aspect of the plot, leaving audiences only the enjoyment of *how* the characters got where they had been told the characters were going. There were no surprises.

    Top billed (her first role in that position?) Angela Lansbury was in the middle of a long and (mostly) distinguished movie career mainly playing "bad girls" – years before her Broadway and television career nearly eclipsed her earlier 100+ films – except perhaps for her definitive evil mother in MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE. She appeared to be taking a break from small but important roles in major studio films to see if she could carry a lead herself in this independent. PLEASE MURDER ME! didn't get her major studio leads, but her supporting roles in everything from THE RELUCTANT DEBUTANTE to BLUE HAWAII continued to be either out of the top drawer or she made them seem they were until she decamped for Broadway and the lead in the musical MAME which forever changed HER career.

    Third billed Dick Foran had had the lead in a wartime revival of Rogers & Hart's A CONNECTICUT YANKEE on Broadway, but had mostly switched over from Hollywood roles in minor films to TV work by this shot at an important role in PLEASE MURDER ME!, but it was RAYMOND BURR, perennial film heavy (his greatest movie role was almost certainly the husband across the way in Hitchcock's REAR WINDOW two years before, who was also working more and more in TV who really made PLEASE MURDER ME! memorable.

    It is almost certain that it was this role which got Burr his big shot as TV's PERRY MASON the next year. It may even have been a knowing tryout. He was nothing like the 1930's movie Perry Mason, the suave if slightly oily Warren William who was closer to the Perry Mason which Erle Stanley Gardner actually wrote, but watch Burr playing attorney Craig Carlson in PLEASE MURDER ME! It's the full blown Mason 20+ years of TV viewers would get to know intimately. All the mannerisms and line readings are there. Rather than the stock "heavy" which had been Burr's trademark, this was a persona of warmth and trust that anchors the film and makes the slightly strained story believable.

    One can only hope that one of the ongoing DVD issues of PERRY MASON TV seasons will eventually pick up the public domain PLEASE MURDER ME! as a "bonus" feature – despite Attorney Carlson's position at the final fade out, it clearly belongs as part of the Burr/Mason canon.

    In the mean time, I'm glad IMDb provides links to the film on the "Internet Archive" for those who can't find one of the PD releases. It's worth a look.


  4. rgkeenan says:

    Don't know where this picture originated. There is no studio at the beginning of the credits and it doesn't look like a TV production, although several of the players went on to successful careers in Television. Besides Burr and Lansbury, John Dehner and Denver Pyle did lots of TV work on many different shows. It also May have been a 'B' from an obscure studio and played with a weak 'A' picture.

    In any case, the end result is a watchable film well-acted by some old pros and without any outlandish plot device acting as a Deus Ex Machina – surprisingly well-written. The engrossing storyline makes up for some dead time in the middle. Not a bad effort all around.

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