Lee Warren (Eric Portman) has just returned from spending several months in America on business. Lee has learned that his wife Vivian (Greta Gynt) was having an affair with a man named Richard Fenton (Dennis Price) while he was gone so Lee decides to kill the man. Lee has planned everything out and believes there is no way he can be suspected. He goes to Fenton’s apartment and confronts him. Fenton, being a bit of a cad, admits to the affair. Lee persuades Fenton to write a note to Vivian calling off the affair. He then kills Fenton and stages it to look like a suicide.
Before he can leave Vivian comes in to the apartment with another man. Lee hides and listens in on their conversation. Lee learns that Fenton and Vivian had already broken up and Vivian was now seeing a man named Jimmy Martin (Maxwell Reed). Lee now realizes that Fenton had been humoring him by writing the note. He also realizes that his suicide plan for Fenton may be under suspect. Lee decides that he can readjust the evidence and make it look like Vivian’s new lover Jimmy killed Fenton and tried to make it look like suicide. He plants evidence in Jimmy’s car. He then tells his wife everything he did.
Jimmy is arrested but Fenton’s sister Avis (Hazel Court), who use to date Jimmy before Vivian stole him, doesn’t believe that Jimmy killed her brother. Inspector Pembury (Jack Warner) is also not sure that Jimmy is a killer. He thinks Lee is the killer but with no evidence there’s nothing he can do. Vivian convinces Lee that she never loved either man and she was only seeing them because she was lonely. Lee believes her and is now wracked with guilt for both killing a man and then framing another. Lee’s woes are far from done.
“Dear Murderer” was released in 1947 and was directed by Arthur Crabtree. It is a British film noir and a crime drama. The movie is based on a play by St. John Legh Clowes and the film is said to be a close adaptation. The film was produced by Gainsborough Pictures. The company usually produced low budget “B” pictures.
This is, so far, the best British noir film I’ve ever seen. It started out decent and then I began to worry that it would be average and pedestrian but I was very surprised and delighted. The film had some wonderful twists and turns to it. The script was taut and the acting was perfect. The character Lee was slick and had an air of superiority. Vivian was beautiful but evil at heart. She actually smiled when she was told that he lover killed himself because he couldn’t have her. The Warren’s were perfectly suited for each other. Both were devious, heartless and rotten to the core. It was wonderful seeing them play each other and get played by each other. I loved it.
In Australia the movie was used as evidence in an attempted murder trial. Arthur James Colyer was accused of attempting to kill his wife. She claims he tried to suffocate her with two pillows over her face. Mr. Colyer blamed a nightmare brought about by PTSD. She then said he tried to put a bag over her head and suffocate her with gas from a copper pipe. Mr. Colyer’s counsel said that Mrs. Colyer’s evidence follows the plot of a movie that was recently shown in Brisbane, Australia theaters. He asked her if she ever saw “Dear Murderer”. Mrs. Colyer denied ever seeing the film. Mrs. Colyer had no evidence to back up her claim. Mr. Colyer was acquitted.