Sunday, May 21, 2023

Please Murder Me


Please Murder Me
Directed by
Peter Godfrey
Written by Al C Ward & Donald Hyde (screenplay), Ewald Andre Dupont and David T. Chantler (original story)
Starring Raymond Burr, Angela Lansbury, Dick Foran, John Dehner, Lamont Johnson
IMDB Entry

Sometimes it's fun to see the early roles of actors who became household words later on and it's even more fun when you can see why they got those roles.  Please Murder Me gives a look at one of the big names of 50s television in a role that is very close to it.

Craig Carlson (Raymond Burr) is a lawyer who has fallen for Myra Leeds (Angela Lansbury), wife of his best friend Joe (Dick Foran). But when Myra kills Joe, Craig takes on her case and gets her acquitted. Then he discovers that he's been played:  Myra loves Carl Holt (Lamont Johnson) and dumps Craig. Feeling guilty on getting her off, he works on a scheme to enlist the district attorney (John Dehner) to help send her to prison.

The actor I was talking about was, of course, Raymond Burr. The courtroom scene where Craig gets Myra off would not be that out of place in Perry Mason. It's likely that this role did have something to do with him getting the role, since he began with Mason the next year.

Of course, Angela Lansbury also became a TV icon. People tend to think of her as Jessica Fletcher and don't remember that when she was young, she made a great femme fatale. She is good here, seemingly sweet and loving, but hiding a darkness that's not obvious.

The plot does owe a lot to Double Indemnity, where the woman entices the man to murder. Several other elements also have similarities to the older film. It does end with a very good twist.

Also in the cast is John Dehner. He was a very busy radio actor, most notably in Frontier Gentleman and Have Gun Will Travel. He switched to TV and appeared in over a hundred TV shows, often westerns, as a guest star. One of the recurring role was in The Roaring Twenties.

1 comment:

Jerome Wilson said...

When Raymond Burr tried out for the Perry Mason series, he actually first read for the role of Hamilton Burger, the District Attorney. The story is that Erle Stanley Gardner himself asked him to read for the role of Mason. You can find the Mason auditions on YouTube and it's uncanny to watch Burr in the role. From his first line, he had the Perry Mason we all know down cold!