Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Tonight's Movie: Quiet Please - Murder (1942)

QUIET PLEASE - MURDER is a peculiar 70-minute "B" movie starring George Sanders and Gail Patrick. I found it entertaining, not least because it was on the strange side.

Sanders is top billed in this 20th Century-Fox film, so I began this mystery expecting something along the lines of THE GAY FALCON (1941), with Sanders as the crime-solving hero. I was quickly disabused of that notion when Sanders' character, Jim Fleg, shot a library security guard in cold blood in the opening moments of the film!

Sanders plays a man who steals and forges rare books, using Myra Blandy (Patrick) as his fence. The heat is on Fleg and Blandy when Blandy sells a forged edition of HAMLET to a man (Sidney Blackmer) with Nazi connections; when he realizes he was sold a phony he makes clear Fleg and Blandy will pay a price if they don't make good what he paid.

Meanwhile a detective, Hal McByrne (Richard Denning), who is on Fleg's trail is attracted by Blandy, though he doesn't trust her for a minute. Nor should he, as she tries to play all three sides -- Fleg, the Nazis, and McByrne -- against each other.

Much of the action takes place in a dark library, with bodies aplenty and a clever conclusion involving a blackout drill. The film is also dark in a thematic sense, with so much of the focus on a pair of unrepentant criminals. This being the era of the Production Code, Sanders and Patrick ultimately receive their just desserts, but before that point they have an eyebrow-raising amount of dialogue regarding how much they enjoy masochism. It's quite odd for a film from 1942!

Lynne Roberts plays Kay, a young librarian caught up in the goings-on. The cast also includes Byron Foulger, Kurt Katch, Charles Tannen, and Pat O'Malley.

QUIET PLEASE - MURDER was the first of three films directed by John Larkin, who also wrote the script. For most of his career he stuck to writing, including musicals such as THE DOLLY SISTERS (1945), CARNIVAL IN COSTA RICA (1947), and a favorite MGM film, TWO WEEKS WITH LOVE (1950).

The cinematography was by Fox's great Joe McDonald, who would go on to shoot many classic film noir titles.

This movie isn't out on DVD or video. I was able to catch this film thanks to it being shown on Fox Movie Channel.


Blogger grandoldmovies said...

Sounds like a strange, interesting film. Sanders and Patrick seem like a good pairing; both conveyed a sophisticated, cynical attitude onscreen, and both could handle ice-cold dialogue. Thanks for your post!

7:07 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

It really was quite different, compelling because of its strangeness and the teaming of Sanders and Patrick. They definitely made an interesting couple!

Best wishes,

7:42 PM  
Blogger Amanda said...

I've caught this gem on Fox Movie Channel a few times, and it's quite the enjoyable B movie. I adore George Sanders, so that is probably most of the appeal. I just wish the film was preserved better. When I have seen it the video and sound are not very crisp.

11:52 PM  

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