Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Angela Lansbury Double Feature Vol 1|
Actor: Raymond Burr
Genres: Westerns, Television, Mystery & Suspense
Angela Lansbury was a stage sensation in the '40s and '50s, racking up Tony Awards and wowing audiences everywhere. These two ?noir?-ish selections allowed the rising star to show her range, from dizzy blond housewife in ?... more »
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Two obscure B noirs, one terrible quality dvd!
Dave | Tennessee United States | 06/29/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I bought this dvd not because I'm a fan of Angela Lansbury, which I'm not really, but because I was getting two rarely-seen B noirs from the 1950's. Being a film noir fanatic, it's usually a joy to discover the obscure, low-budget B noirs of the 1940's and 1950's, but in this case both films were almost unwatchable due to the extremely poor picture and sound quality. It's hard to believe that a well-known company like Critics' Choice would put their name on such an awful dvd. Even worse, on the dvd cover it says "digitally restored"!!! Hopefully, these movies will find their way to VCI Entertainment, which has already carefully restored several great B noirs that have entered public domain.
First, we have the hilariously-bad "A Life at Stake" from 1954. The plot is pretty simple: Edward Shaw (Keith Andes) is hired by Doris Hillman (Angela Lansbury), a lonely blonde woman, to build a house for her as well as her aging husband Gus (Douglass Dumbrille). Edward becomes suspicious, however, once Doris talks him into taking out an insurance policy for $175,000 (quite a fortune in 1954) while he works. And although Doris succeeds in seducing Edward, he grows only more suspicious of her and Gus. He convinces Doris' younger step-sister Madge Neilan (Claudia Barrett) that Gus and Doris are out to kill him, and together they try to trick the couple into admitting their murderous plot. It all boils down to a deadly confrontation between Gus, Doris, and Edward.
So what made "A Life at Stake" hilariously bad? To begin with, Keith Andes is not a very good actor, even for a B movie. He shows even less emotion than George Raft, and he has absolutely no chemistry with Angela Lansbury. As for Lansbury, let's face it, even in a swimsuit she just isn't right for the role of the seductive femme fatale. Think of what Lana Turner could've done with the role. Anyway, it's a fun movie to watch because I can safely bet that you'll laugh all the way through it! Plus, the music in this movie is quite impressive for such a low-budget movie. Grade: **1/2 out of *****
Next, we have the terrific 1956 thriller "Please Murder Me" (what an awesome title!) with a very original plot: Attorney Craig Carlson (Raymond Burr, in a fantastic pre-Perry Mason role!) has just gotten his client Myra Leeds (Angela Lansbury) a not-guilty verdict for the killing of her husband Joe (Dick Foran). Myra had claimed it was self-defense, and Craig, who was in love with her, believed her completely. Only after the trial does he recieve information that Myra was in love with another man and had been all along, using Craig only to get her off the hook for the murder of her husband. Craig feels enormous guilt, largely because Myra's husband Joe had been his best friend. He then comes up with a complex plan to drive Myra to the point of killing him so that she'll pay for her past crimes.
"Please Murder Me" may sound ludicrous, but Angela Lansbury and especially Raymond Burr give exceptional performances and make this a very entertaining thriller. I've always thought Raymond Burr was perfectly suited for film noir, and he proved that by playing a variety of characters in noirs, from sadistic villians to sympathetic heroes. Grade: **** out of *****
Bottom line, while both of these (especially Please Murder Me) are well-worth watching, you may want to pass on this dvd because of the horrible picture and sound quality. At least I now know never to buy another dvd with Critics' Choice on the label."