QUIET PLEASE, MURDER
(director/writer: John Larkin; screenwriter: story by Lawrence G. Blochman; cinematographer: Joe MacDonald; editor: Louis Loeffler; cast: George Sanders (Fleg ), Gail Patrick (Myra Blandy), Lynne Roberts (Kay Ryan), Sidney Blackmer (Martin Cleaver), Kurt Katch (Eric Pahsen), Margaret Brayton (Miss Oval), Charles Tannen (Hollis), Charles Cane (Inspector Henderson), Richard Denning (Detective McByrne), Byron Foulger (Edmund Walpole); Runtime: 70; TCF; 1942)
“It’s a spirited film.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Fleg (George Sanders) is a gentleman rare book collector willing to do anything in his pursuit of collecting rare books, which includes forgery and murder. His partner is the attractive Myra Blandy (Gail Patrick), an equally treacherous conspirator, who is capable of doing almost anything to make money dishonestly. This offbeat suspense story, with some romance thrown in, is a fast-moving crime caper taking place mostly in a library.
Fleg, while visiting the library to look at the rare Richard Burbage edition of Shakespeare’s Hamlet kept under glass, kills the library guard and steals the valuable folio. Instead of selling it outright, he forges copies and has his associate, Myra, set up the book deals to sell the forgeries as originals. Against his wishes, she sells the forgery to Martin Cleever (Sidney Blackmer). Fleg warns her to give him back his money, that he works for the Nazi Gestapo collecting rare works of art and he will kill them if he feels he has been cheated.
But Myra sees a way out of her dilemma when a private detective from New York, Hal McByrne (Denning), who is working for a client she indirectly cheated in the States, tells her he is onto her little swindle. She seems to be caught with two bad choices, get killed by Cleever’s men or go to jail through McByrne. But leave it to Myra, she flirts with the womanizing detective and strikes a deal with him — whereas he will shield her from being involved in the scam. She thereby uses him romantically; and, at the same time, strikes a deal with Cleever, pretending to help him find Fleg. She tells him that McByrne is really Fleg and sets it up so that they will meet in the library.
The carefully woven plot takes place right before closing time in the library; Myra tries to kill two birds with one stone, as she gets Cleever to try and kill McByrne when she gets him to go to the library to get a book for her. The story gets further complicated when Fleg also comes to the library posing as a phony policeman, accompanied by his entire gang posing as cops. He keeps everyone locked in the library, as he puts himself in charge of the murder investigation.
The library scene results in a few murders, Nazis and crooks running after each other, some more rare books stolen, romantic entanglements becoming complicated by McByrne’s and Fleg’s romance with the duplicitous Myra, and with McByrne during this narrow time frame falling in love with an attractive librarian named Kay Ryan (Lynne Roberts); and, to add further confusion an air raid takes place, as the library goes dark in the middle of the bogus murder investigation.
It’s a spirited film, with enough cheap Freudian explanations about the forger and his associate to keep you in stitches. Sanders’s typical suave performance, plus the B&W noir-like lighting, make this B-film highly entertaining.
REVIEWED ON 12/16/99 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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