The Film Detective will be celebrating Independence Day with five new film restorations that are destined for the DVD collectible market place … so let’s light that fuse and see what film fireworks will be on display on July 4!
The war in Europe had literally just ended in Europe when 20th Century-Fox released the light-hearted comedy Molly and Me, a pre-war themed story starring Gracie Fields (Holy Matrimony, Queen of Hearts) as a down-on-her-luck London stage actress who lands a fish-out-of-water housekeeping job. The timing was perfect for the theatrical launch as audiences of the day were looking for something light and happy.
It’s not just any job that she’s conned her way into, but one as the housekeeper to a political bigwig by the name of John Graham (played by Monty Woolly) … not only does she have to keep the butler (played by Reginald Gardiner) — a fellow actor — from spilling the beans about her past, but she has to become a jack of all trades when she discovers that other members of the household are robbing Graham blind and they up and quit on her.
Also heading to retail on July 4 from The Film Detective is director Please Murder Me!, an independently produced film noir entry from the spring of 1956. The film came at the end of the post-war film noir cycle and was an indie, so it pretty much came and went … gone, but not forgotten.
The film starred a fellow by the name of Raymond Burr as Craig Carlson, a criminal attorney, who begins to have pangs of guilt when he discovers that his defense of Myra Leeds (played by Angela Lansbury) was so good that he actually got a murderer off.
If that name, Raymond Burr, rings any bells it is because the next year (1957) he would start a ten-year run as the star of the Perry Mason television series (271 episodes) … he was attorney Craig Carlson first!
Please Murder Me! is told in flashback (much like Double Indemnity) as Carlson dictates the details of what he discovered about Leeds, but since she cannot be tried again for her husband’s murder, Carlson finds another way to sink her (a terrific twist at the end).
Rounding out the July 4 selections are Fisherman's Wharf (1939, directed by Bernard Vorhaus and starring Bobby Breen and Leo Carrillo), Niagara Falls (1941, romantic comedy with Marjorie Woodworth, Tom Brown, Slim Summerville and Zasu Pitts) and Outlaws of the Desert (1941, Hopalong Cassidy — William Boyd — leaves the wild west to buy horses in “Arabia”).