Film Review: Please Murder Me! (1956)

Release Date: March, 1956
Directed by: Peter Godfrey
Written by: Donald Hyde, Al C. Ward, David T. Chantler, Ewald Andre Dupont
Music by: Albert Glasser
Cast: Angela Lansbury, Raymond Burr, Dick Foran

Distributor Corporation of America, 78 Minutes

Review:

The thought of Angela Lansbury and Raymond Burr in the same film is pretty cool. The fact that this happened, was even cooler.

However, this wasn’t a Perry Mason and Jessica Fletcher team up movie for television in the 1980s, it was a film noir from the 1950s that uncharacteristically used Lansbury as a murderess.

The first half of this movie feels like a Perry Mason episode, as it is a courtroom drama. However, this came out a year before Burr reached super stardom with that show. Regardless, the first half of the picture really slows this thing down to a crawl and is a lot less interesting than the second half, where the real noir elements start. Hopefully, you aren’t trapped in a slumber, by this point.

The story sees Burr’s lawyer character fall for a murder suspect, his client played by Lansbury. She is accused of murdering her husband, which she did, but Burr believes she is innocent and gets her off. Later discovering that she did indeed kill her husband, Burr feels tremendous guilt. He then decides to trick her into murdering him, so that he can record her in the act and absolve his guilt.

The story is interesting but it takes too long to get going and when it starts to get good, you’re already exhausted from the courtroom stuff. Full disclosure, courtroom dramas typically bore the piss out of me so this might not effect others the same way.

Burr and Lansbury were both good in this but the film itself isn’t worthy of their talents. It is dry and uneventful, at least until the rushed second half, but even then, the shocking finale feels hollow.

This is still worth checking out if you like both of the leads and are a fan of b-movie noir.

Rating: 5.25/10

Film Review: The Company of Wolves (1984)

Release Date: September 15th, 1984 (Toronto Festival of Festivals)
Directed by: Neil Jordan
Written by: Angela Carter, Neil Jordan
Based on: a short story by Angela Carter
Music by: George Fenton
Cast: Angela Lansbury, David Warner, Micha Bergese, Sarah Patterson, Stephen Rea, Terence Stamp (uncredited)

Palace Productions, ITC, Cannon, 95 Minutes

companyofwolvesReview:

Admittedly, I have never gotten around to seeing The Company of Wolves until very recently. It is a movie that I have known about since around the time it came out. I just never got around to seeing it and forgot about it. Recently, some friends of mine were discussing it and it made me seek it out.

I was already familiar with the gore level of the film. I had seen the werewolf transformations in other places. So from a visual standpoint, I knew that this was a very violent and adult version of the Little Red Riding Hood tale.

The movie is directed by Neil Jordan, who would later go on to do The Crying GameInterview With A Vampire and Breakfast On Pluto. He has always been a hit or miss director for me but those hits are usually pretty damn good.

The Company of Wolves has a pretty solid cast. There is Angela Lansbury as the grand mother of Rosaleen a.k.a. Little Red Riding Hood. Of course she lives in a cottage in the woods. You also have Neil Jordan favorite Stephen Rea in a small role and David Warner as the father to Rosaleen. Rosaleen is played by Sarah Patterson and she does a fine job. Terence Stamp is in the film in an uncredited role as “The Devil”. Most importantly, Micha Bergese is perfect as the huntsman character. He is magical and absolutely terrifying when the time comes.

The best thing about this movie is the special effects and the set design. Although, the cinematography is a bit weak for the visuals one will encounter in this picture. The creature effects and the transformation of the people into wolves is absolutely amazing and beautiful in all its gore-ridden glory. The atmosphere of the film, especially the woods, is mesmerizing. The only problem is that the lighting and camera work feels a bit cheap and out of tune.

Unfortunately, the rest of this film falls into the negative spectrum.

To start, the opening credits looked horrendous. The typeface was hard to read and this was only magnified by the moving wave-like gradient effect used on the text. It started this film off on a real amateurish tone.

The script was a mess. It was hard to tell what was going on from scene-to-scene. A lot of the movie was nonsensical and strange for the sake of being strange. It is worth noting that the entire film was a dream sequence but that is no excuse for allowing your picture to become so surreal that the audience never knows quite where they’re at. Maybe that was the intention of the filmmakers but if that’s so, it was really stupid. The way the film ends is even worse than everything preceding it and it makes the entire movie absolutely and utterly pointless from a narrative standpoint.

The movie is also littered with really irritating characters, most notably the awful teenage boy that was pining over Rosaleen. She’ll never go for you, dude. You look like a curly-haired worm and you’re missing one of your front teeth.

The Company of Wolves had a few positives but was greatly outweighed by the negatives. It is worth a watch because it is visually pleasing but it is hard to make much sense out of most of it.

Rating: 5.25/10