|Index||3 reviews in total|
"Anyone for Murder?" is a black comedy featuring Barry Nelson as psychology professor James Parkerson, who posts an experimental notice in the paper about helping married couples eliminate their significant others. Once he informs the police about his intentions, he answers the first respondent, a Mr. Bingham (Edward Andrews), who wants to pay the professor for all 20 letters he's received, intending to carry out each murder for a price. Meanwhile, Parkerson's wife Doris (Patricia Breslin) has been carrying on for the past six months with a young man, Robert Johnson (Richard Dawson), who balks at continuing at the same pace, offering to hire Parkerson to kill Doris' husband, without knowing that he has actually tried to get Parkerson to kill himself. The professor turns to Mr. Bingham to murder Johnson, and everything goes wrong from that point. It doesn't quite hold up till the end, but the wonderful cast keeps it afloat. As he previously did in 3 episodes of THRILLER, Edward Andrews, a fine comic actor, again proves to be an underrated villain, while Richard Dawson, shortly before his initial fame on HOGAN'S HEROES, was just beginning his career, with two features and three TV episodes behind him.
The best thing about this goofy production is the absence of clichés of
any kind. I'm not sure what the writer has in mind, but the best way to
take events is as black comedy, without the laughs. The set-up,
however, is something of a curious grabber. A professor decides to
research married couples who have proclivities toward killing their
spouse. So he advertises that in so many words and in a newspaper, no
less. No wonder Barry Nelson as the prof keeps rolling his eyes in
loopy fashion. I'm guessing such research is not part of his school's
Anyway, things twist around to where the prof moves to kill his wife's lover (Dawson), while the lover moves to kill her husband (the prof.). The big irony is they don't know they're involved in the same lovers' triangle. So the identity of each guy's marked man remains unknown to the other. Thus, as acquaintances, they socialize without realizing they're actually trying to kill each other. A second irony is both unknowingly want to hire the same hit man (Andrews). All in all, It's certainly a different story idea. But, on the whole, reviewer Maxwell is spot-on with the production details. I'm just sorry the idea's poorly worked out, and not up to the caliber of the performers or the farcical potential.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It's never dull, but this story of a psychology professor who
researches murder and gets mixed up in his own wife's scheme to have
him bumped off, could have used a quicker pace, better gags, and
Barry Nelson as the professor never seemed to age in the course of his long career. He didn't look any older in "The Shining" than he did in "Bataan," thirty-seven years earlier. Richard Dawson, as the lover of Nelson's wife, is barely recognizable if you're used to seeing him on "Family Feud." Edward Andrews, wearing his trademark horn-rimmed glasses and his insinuating smile, is fine as the semi-comic hit man.
It could have been a lot shorter. Time sort of stretches out as we watch Nelson trying to make his first contact with Andrews, whom he's never met, signaling his identity by tying and re-tying his shoelaces, much to the dicomfit of the bar's staff and other customers. When no one approaches him except the waiter -- David Fresco with a monumentally ignorant face -- Nelson tentatively asks if the shoelace business is meaningful to him. Fresco, in a tone and with an expression that passes for puzzlement, replies, "You didn't tie them right the first time?" The set up is fine. The joke is not. A more careful and sophisticated writer might have had the stupid-looking waiter launch into a disquisition on obsession, fetishes, and Freud -- or SOMETHING. Instead, the opportunity is deep sixed.
The ending is bewildering and not at all amusing. You can't keep a good cast down, though, and they soldier on mightily.
|Plot summary||Ratings||Plot keywords|
|Main details||Your user reviews||Your vote history|