It is difficult sometimes to remember that just because we first see an actor in a particular role, at a particular age, that isn’t necessarily what they’ve always been. It’s easy to picture, for example, Jack Nicholson as the rebellious Randall McMurphy and forget the dashing young hero of The Raven, or to see Kurt Russell as any number of scruffy wisecrackers and forget the fact that he started out as a child actor. So when viewing an older movie, it’s sometimes surprising to see an actor or actress from well before the age at which one usually pictures them.
Like most children of the 80s, I was familiar with Angela Lansbury primarily from Murder, She Wrote or from her voice-acting as the kindly Mrs. Potts in Beauty and the Beast. If I had ever stopped to think of it, I’m sure it would have been obvious to me that she didn’t simply stroll into Hollywood as a senior citizen. But it’s not something that really occurs to a person until one sees the evidence of it, and so it came as a bit of a surprise to see her playing the role of Myra Leeds in Please Murder Me, a 1956 film noir directed by Peter Godfrey. And in this film, she’s not a meddling crime solver; rather, she’s at the center of the crime herself, as a young woman accused of murdering her husband. Continue reading