This review is for the darkly clever little British noir called Dear Murderer (1947)
What’s going down?
Successful businessman Lee Warren has it all, including a beautiful trophy wife. Life would be perfect if it wasn’t for his intense, jealous paranoia. Well to be fair he had good reason for it. You see, his wife Vivien is shockingly stunning but also a devious, cheating little floozy. She can’t help herself. She’ll happily lie about her devout love for her husband whilst entertaining the company of another man behind his back. To make matter worse for Lee is work commitments send him on a lengthily business trip to New York. Beside himself he asks his loving wife to send him a letter each day to keep his spirits up. She agrees. Well for a few days at least. Then the letters stop…. She’s been unfaithful before.
Driven mad by the thoughts of her having an affair he’s left with his mind dreaming up ways to get even with what ever suitor is messing with his Vivien. He comes up with the perfect plan. To murder his wife’s lover in a way that no one would suspect foul play. You know, a perfect murder….. Enter Inspector Pembury.
“It’s all too neat and tidy! It all adds up to perfectly?“
The main players
Eric Portman is Lee Warren
Greta Gynt is Vivien Warren
Dennis Price is Richard Fenton
Maxwell Reed is Jimmy Martin
Jack Warner is Insp. Pembury
Hazel Court is Avis Fenton
Sure I’ve seen them in something?
Eric Portman is superb as the scorned husband with murder on his mind. He had unexpectedly been in two films that I’d watched over the last year and didn’t recognise until I looked through his filmography. He played German U-boat Lieutenant Ernst Hirth in Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger WW2 drama 49th Parallel (1941). And a film I did a review on called The Whisperers (1967) with the excellent Edith Evans.
Norwegian born actress Greta Gynt stand outs with her glamorous beauty and she’s a wonder to watch as you wait to see how far she can twist a dagger in. She plays the part well as the conniving, compulsive, cheater. I hadn’t seen or heard of her before. I’ve clocked Take My Life (1947) which sounds like a good thriller. Any others?
Now I’m ashamed to say I didn’t know Hazel Court from watching the film and when I looked through the cast I could only do a face plant with the palm of my hand. She’s only one of the original Queen’s of Scream. Playing alongside the legends of horror like Vincent Price, Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee in films like The Masque of the Red Death (1964), The Raven (1963) and The Curse of Frankenstein (1957). To be fair she does only have a small part in Dear Murderer so I will forgive myself!!!
Jack Warner is ace as always. Of course known to just about everybody as PC George Dixon from a million and one episodes of Dixon Of Dock Green. But before that he was in films from the like of The Blue Lamp (1950) which was like an origin story for Dixon. He’s was in the classic A Christmas Carol (1951) with Alastair Sim. Got caught up with sci-fi horror The Quatermass Xperiment (1955) and the one on my to watch list I’ve been meaning to see to soon, It Always Rains on Sunday (1947). And if you can, check Jigsaw (1962), which I did a review of, it’s very recommended.
Notes on production?
Dear Murderer is directed by Arthur Crabtree from a screenplay adapted from a West End play written by St John Legh Clowes.
The great information I learnt doing this post was about the Box Family. Dear Murderer screenplay is written by writer and director Muriel Box and her husband Sydney Box who ran the British film studio, Gainsborough Pictures. Sydney’s sister was in on the act too, as Betty Box was also the producer of this film and many others. There’s a superb article about them here on The British Film Institute website.
Hits like a sledge hammer
The actual murder plan is coldly executed. Made worse by the fact that he calmly tell’s his victim of how exactly he is going to perform his demise. A crime so perfectly meticulously played out. A murder so perfect that nobody would even expect foul play.
“Don’t be such a fool! You can’t get away with murder, nobody can!“
“I’m gonna commit the perfect murder“
“There’s no such thing?“
“Oh yes there is. The perfect murder is the one nobody ever hears about. Because no one thinks it is murder“
“You don’t understand. I loath you. You desecrated the only precious thing I ever had!“
“You’ll be more scared later. You’re gonna to die and you’re not gonna like it one little bit!“
Hang on a minute
Dear Murderer would make a fantastic double bill with equally brilliant dark and twisted Obsession (1949)
For a film of this age it has a ridiculous dark edge to it. Definitely made worse by the fact that everyone speaks in such posh English accents. The way he calmly tells his victim how he’s gonna kill him. The way he’s planned it and the way he sets his dastardly plan into motion. The undercurrent of the movie is so cold and calculated. The constant dialogue keeps things ticking along as you wonder how or if he will be caught. As Inspector Pembury is a few steps behind quietly trying to figure out the mystery. I thought this movie was fantastic. With so many great lines….
“You can’t kill them all you fool!“
Wolfman’s rating 9/10 IMDB 6.9/10
Feel free to recommend me related movies and any other trivia if you wish. Keep having fun at the movies…. Mikey Wolf
PS You can stream Dear Murderer (1947) here on YouTube at time of writing.