DEAR MURDERER (director: Arthur Crabtree; screenwriters: Muriel Box/Sydney Box/Peter Rogers/based on a play by St John Leigh Clowes; cinematographer: Stephen Dade; editor: Gordon Hales; music: Ben Frankel; cast: Eric Portman (Lee Warren), Greta Gynt (Vivien Warren), Dennis Price (Richard Fenton), Jack Warner (Insp. Penbury), Maxwell Reed (Jimmy Martin), Hazel Court (Avis Fenton), Jane Hylton (Rita); Runtime: 90; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Betty E. Box; MGM; 1947-UK)
“Crisply directed and acted.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Arthur Crabtree (“The Strange Case of Dr. Manning”/”Fiend Without A Face”/”They Were Sisters”) directs this clever British thriller about a jealous husband who murders his rival and frames another rival for the murder. It’s based on the West End play by St John Leigh Clowes and written by Peter Rogers and the husband and wife team of Muriel and Sydney Box.
Wealthy Brit businessman Lee Warren (Eric Portman) suspects his attractive wife Vivien (Greta Gynt) is having an affair because she stopped writing him regularly while he’s on an eight month business trip in America. Lee sneaks back to London and confronts his wife’s barrister lover Dick Fenton (Dennis Price) in his flat and gets him to write a Dear John letter to Vivian and then sticks his head in the gas-lit oven making his death look like a suicide. But before he can complete this murder, Vivian comes to Fenton’s flat with her new lover Jimmy Martin (Maxwell Reed) and she accepts his marriage proposal. He’s the former lover of Fenton’s sister Hazel (Hazel Court). The very possessive and jealous Lee switches plans and sets out to frame Jimmy by planting evidence that implicates him to the murder of Fenton. But the wily police investigator, Insp. Penbury (Jack Warner), suspects Lee and tries to get the evidence to prevent the perfect crime.
One too many artificial plot devices make this adulterous triangle end on a false note. Despite such flaws this little B film crime drama is crisply directed and acted. REVIEWED ON 10/23/2008 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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