PLEASE MURDER ME!. Distributors Corporation of America, 1956. Angela Lansbury, Raymond Burr, Dick Foran, John Dehner, Lamont Johnson. Director: Peter Godfrey.

   Before his role of a lifetime came along as TV’s Perry Mason, Raymond Burr did not have many leading roles in the movies, but here he is in Please Murder Me! as the second billed actor. I have no idea if this is the case, but it’s fun to speculate: If the people who were in charge of casting the role of Mason happened to have seen this movie, they would have said “He’s our guy!,” and signed him up on the spot.

   He plays a lawyer in this one, if you hadn’t realized that already, but with a twist. His client is the woman he is in love with (Angela Lansbury), and she is charged with having killed her husband. She claims it was in self-defense, but the D.A. (John Dehner) is making an awfully good case that it was premeditated murder, when Burr’s character makes a confession that turns everything upside down.

   It has already been established to the viewer that the dead man was Burr’s best friend, but the friendship has been permanently ruined when Burr tells the husband that he has fallen in love with his wife, and that he will be representing her in terms of a divorce.

   This is not as complicated as perhaps I have made it sound, or maybe it is. It is the basis for a very good movie, one that I can definitely recommend. It really ought to have an official release.

   While I could not discern any particular chemistry between Burr and Angela Lansbury, they are both well chosen for their respective roles. Before making this film Burr usually played villains, and if I say heavies, he was, but he had definitely slimmed down by the time he appeared in this one.

   A late entry noir — take a look at the opening scenes, at least, from the copy embedded above from YouTube — and one worth watching.