A tight noir that moves its three principals briskly and efficiently through their paces right to their respective dooms, Please Murder Me offers Raymond Burr – practically auditioning for Perry Mason as a defense attorney – as the dupe and Angela Lansbury as the matronly but adulterous wife and femme fatale. Both performances register as rather standard here, though it’s a treat to see the combination of two television super-sleuths before they carved out their trademark roles. Raymond Burr is in stoic mode for the entire movie, while Lansbury’s character grows more venomous as the film progresses, whetting our appetite for the actress’s masterful villain performance in The Manchurian Candidate in 1962.
And I had no clue that the detective was played by Denver Pyle, who decades later would find his own signature role as Uncle Jesse on The Dukes of Hazzard. My loss.
But in all honesty, the story clicked by at such a clip that I didn’t get a chance to keep a close eye on supporting players. Director Peter Godfrey charges hard through the deadly machinations of both gold-digging Lansbury and vengeful Burr as they double-cross each other up to an everybody-loses denouement promised from the very beginning of the film. Not a classic, but not to be missed by fans of the genre or the stars.