Cast & Crew
In London, Alison Kirbe, an unassuming young Englishwoman, receives word that Hank Wadburn, a lonely old soldier she befriended during the war, has died and left her his Texas ranch. Unaware that Wadburn's worthless land is littered with tumbleweed and little else, Alison sets sail for America with dreams of commanding a cattle empire. One of Alison's fellow passengers is Terence Keath, a gambler heavily in debt to casino owner Lucky Reilly, who, bankrolled by Reilly, poses as a millionaire to troll the shipboards in search of a rich wife. Believing that Alison is a wealthy heiress, Terry sets his sights on her. Also attracted to Alison is millionaire playboy Jeremy Taylor. Jeremy is accompanied by his attorney, Matthew Kinston, whose sole mission in life seems to be saving his client from breach of promise suits. To impress Alison, Terry arranges for her to be installed in a first class stateroom. When Alison protests, Terry claims that Wadburn was an old family friend and promises to allow her to pay him back once she receives her inheritance. After leaving Alison's luxurious quarters, Terry confers with Vincent Maran, the sleazy attorney whom Reilly has dispatched to make certain that Terry will repay him by marrying a rich heiress. At dinner that evening, both Matt and Jeremy vie for Alison's attentions, but she rejects them both. The next morning, as Terry begins his courtship of Alison, he is interrupted by Matt. To outsmart his watchdog, Jeremy strolls by with a beautiful woman on his arm, thus drawing Matt's attention away from Alison. After Matt leaves to rescue his client, Jeremy approaches Alison and finds that all she wants to talk about is Matt. At pool side, all three bachelors compete for Alison. Later, when Vincent appears, posing as Terry's valet, Matt recognizes the sleazy attorney and begins to suspect that Alison may be involved in a scheme to fleece his client. Infuriated by Matt's suspicions, Alison brags about her inheritance and borrows money from Terry to buy Jeremy a gift. When the boat docks, Alison decides to stay in New York for a week before continuing on to Texas. Upon returning to his office, Matt initiates an investigation into Alison's ranch. When Alison asks Terry for a loan to pay for her hotel room, Terry sends Vincent to inspect her property and then requisitions Reilly for more money. To evaluate his investment, Reilly instructs Terry to bring Alison to his club that night. When Matt sees Terry, Jeremy and Alison at the gaming tables, he accuses her and Terry of trying to lure Jeremy into losing a lot of money. When Jeremy laughs at his suspicions, Matt apologizes to Alison and Reilly, impressed, advances Terry more money. Later, Matt and Alison share a private kiss on the balcony, leaving both Jeremy and Terry incredulous that she could be interested in a penniless attorney. In Texas, Vincent surveys the vast wasteland that makes up Alison's inheritance and faints, while in New York, Jeremy takes Alison shopping at Terry's expense. Upon discovering that Alison's land is worthless, Matt is convinced that she is out to swindle Jeremy. Summoning Alison to his office, Matt accuses her of being a grifter and produces a telegram describing the hopeless state of her ranch. Deeply offended, Alison relates the story of how Hadburn, a lonely old soldier, tried to repay her kindness by bequeathing his only possession to her, then she storms out of his office. Afterward, Vincent visits Alison at her hotel room, reports on her property and then informs her of Terry's business deal with Reilly and his impending peril at the angry Reilly's hands. Devising a scheme to repay Reilly, Alison sends Terry to Jeremy to ask him to purchase from Alison a family heirloom, a Persian rug. When Jeremy gladly writes a check for several times the rug's true value, Alison tears up the check, then runs into the street to hail a cab. With her three suitors in pursuit, Alison goes to Reilly's club and offers to pay off Terry's debt over time. After telling off Reilly, Alison leaves and Terry, followed by Matt and Jeremy, arrive to save her honor. After Jeremy hands Reilly a check for Terry's entire debt, the three rush back to Alison's hotel room. When all three propose at once, Alison enthusiastically accepts Matt's offer.
J. Carrol Naish
William Norton Bailey
Paul E. Burns
Lee "lasses" White
Robert Emmett Keane
Samuel A. Landy
Daniel B. Cathcart
Edwin B. Willis
Please Believe Me
Please Believe Me represented a lighter change of pace for the lovely and versatile Deborah Kerr who was usually cast in more dramatic fare. The film gave Kerr, who was relatively new to American audiences at the time, a chance to showcase her natural comedic abilities and perfect timing.
Of all the unlikely people to serve as producer on a romantic comedy, it was none other than former RKO B-movie horror maestro Val Lewton (Cat People , The Body Snatcher ) that put together Please Believe Me for MGM. Lewton had recently moved over to MGM following his long association with RKO and a brief sojourn with Paramount. According to a letter he wrote to his mother and sister in 1949, Lewton saw the film as a chance to change career directions. "Please Believe Me, I feel sure," he wrote, "will be a big success and this will renew my position in the industry and forever still the rumor that I can only do horror stories." While Lewton gave his best to producing the film, his heart simply wasn't in it, according to his wife, because he was so far out of his familiar spine-tingling element.
In the same letter Lewton also divulged that Please Believe Me had been written exclusively for Deborah Kerr, but was in danger of being handed over to one of MGM's more established stars. "We were told to write [the script] for Deborah Kerr, who is a delightful comedienne," wrote Lewton, "and we followed out our instructions to the letter, making it a starring vehicle for her and for her alone. Now that they see how well the script turned out, they want to shift the part to June Allyson because she draws more dollars to the box-office. But it will kill the comedy. I'm fighting, but not hard enough to endanger my job, and probably not hard enough to win. Fortunately the director, Norman Taurog, a very nice man, is on my side and he swings a great deal more weight than I do. It may come out all right."
Lewton and Taurog eventually got their way and held out for Deborah Kerr, who received top billing as she entered into a long period of successful Hollywood films throughout the 1950s. Unfortunately for Lewton, he died just one year after the film's release at the age of 46 and would not get the chance to produce any more films for MGM. One of the film's stars, Robert Walker, also passed away suddenly that same year at the much-too-young age of 32. For Walker, who suffered from psychological problems, Please Believe Me marked his return to the silver screen following a long absence due to a stint in a sanitarium following a nervous breakdown.
Producer: Val Lewton
Director: Norman Taurog
Screenplay: Nathaniel Curtis (screenplay and story)
Cinematography: Robert Planck
Art Direction: Daniel B. Cathcart, Cedric Gibbons
Music: Hans Salter; Bronislau Kaper (uncredited)
Film Editing: Ferris Webster
Cast: Deborah Kerr (Alison Kirbe), Robert Walker (Terence Keath), Mark Stevens (Matthew Kinston), Peter Lawford (Jeremy Taylor), James Whitmore (Vincent Maran), J. Carrol Naish ('Lucky' Reilly), Spring Byington (Mrs. Milwright), Carol Savage (Sylvia Rumley), Drue Mallory (Beryl Robinson), George Cleveland (Mr. Cooper), Ian Wolfe (Edward Warrender), Bridget Carr (Lily Milwright), Henri Letondal (Jacques Carnet), Gaby Andre (Mme. Carnet), Leon Belasco (The Croupier).
BW-87m. Closed Captioning.
by Andrea Passafiume
Please Believe Me
According to a February 1949 Los Angeles Times news item, Van Johnson was orginally to star in this picture with Deborah Kerr. July 1949 Hollywood Reporter production charts also list Johnson's name, and a July 25, 1949 M-G-M News item notes that filming had begun with Johnson. By early Aug, however, Johnson's name had been replaced with that of Mark Stevens, who portrayed the character "Matthew Kinston" in the film. Although an April 1949 Hollywood Reporter news item notes that Matthew Rapf was to work as Val Lewton's assistant, the extent of his contribution to the released film has not been determined. Please Believe Me was Lewton's first and only production for M-G-M. It also marked Robert Walker's return to the screen after an extended absence due to a six-month confinement in a sanitarium following a nervous breakdown. For more information on Walker, please see the entry above for One Touch of Venus. According to a modern source, M-G-M was so pleased with the film's script that they considered raising the budget and starring June Allison as "Alison Kirbe," but Lewton fought to keep Kerr on the film.