5 October 2013 | Spikeopath
You can't kill them all you fool!
Dear Murderer is directed by Arthur Crabtree and collectively adapted to screenplay by Muriel Box, Sydney Box and Peter Rogers from the play by St. John Leigh Clowes. It stars Eric Portman, Greta Gynt, Dennis Price, Maxwell Reed, Jack Warner, Hazel Court and Jane Hylton. Out of Gainsborough Pictures, music is by Benjamin Frankel and cinematography by Stephen Dade.
Lee Warren (Portman), consumed by jealousy over his wife's unfaithfulness, believes he has executed the perfect murder, however, he hadn't bargained on another one of his wife's lovers entering the fray. But sensing a great opportunity to kill two birds with one stone, he executes another cunning plan
Perhaps he's Adolf Hitler in disguise? He's about the right height.
A wonderfully twisty British thriller, Dear Murderer enjoys giving off a whiff of unpleasantness as it enthrals from the get go. Classic Brit staples are in place for this type of thriller, a vengeful man, harlot woman, intrepid copper and male suitors caught in a trap. Construction is as such, that it's initially hard to actually get on side with any of the principal characters, but one of the film's many delights is in how it constantly alters the trajectory of sympathy towards the actual murderer! It helps as well that the story doesn't rest on its laurels, this is not merely about one murder, and about one man trying to get away with that murder, it's about more than that. There's a lot of talking going on, but it's all relevant to actions that are soon to follow, so when the flip-flops arrive, we are fully prepared and immersed in the devilish goings on.
Arthur Crabtree (Madonna of the Seven Moons) is something of an unsung director from the British classic era, where often he has been termed workmanlike and steady. Yet he was able to make much suspense and atmosphere from the most basic of set-ups. He also was a good director of actors, as evidenced here with the performances he gets out of Portman (calm, calculated and cunning) and Gynt (a wonderful slinky femme fatale dressed up to the nines). While in conjunction with photographer Dade (Zulu), he puts period Gothic noir tints on proceedings, especially on the exteriors where darkness, shadows and gaslights imbues murky machinations of plot. There's a big leap of faith required to accept one critical turn of events entering the home straight, but ultimately the finale is not damaged by it, for here a black heart beats strong. Splendid. 8/10