An interesting article, Harvey.
For about a ten year period, following THE DEAD OF NIGHT, and the end of World War II, from roughly 1945 to 1955, the portmanteau film was quite popular, perhaps also because of the surprising success in England and America of Roberto Rossellini's PAISAN (six vignettes from the liberation of Italy, 1946), or perhaps because of the use of half hour dramatizations in the new medium of Television, which rose in that period.
The vogue was continued in English language films with wily Somerset Maugham's sale of film rights for his short stories to J. Arthur Rank. A number were prepared as short films. The screenplays, varied in theme, were co-written by Maugham and various writers (including Eric Ambler, a favorite of John Huston and Orson Welles). Maugham, one of the most popular writers in English during the first half of the 20th Century, whose longer works had been widely adapted for the screen, provided individual introductions. The stories were given release in three successful groups: QUARTET (1948), TRIO (1950), and ENCORE (1951).
America got into the act, most notably in the example of O. HENRY'S FULL HOUSE (1952), based on five stories by the master of the surprise ending. Novelist and short story writer John Steinbeck did the honors in introducing the tales, and five different directors shared the directing chores (includine Henry Hathaway, Henry King and Henry Koster, as well as Howard Hawks and Jean Negulesco). One of the writers was Welles' confidant and collaborator (as well as second husband of his first wife), Charles Lederer; and one of the stories, "The Last Leaf," featured Ann Baxter and Gregory Ratoff, two figures with Welles' associations.
[BACK TO BACK (1952) was another American example of the portmanteau film, based on stories by Joseph Conrad and Stephen Crane, directed by John Brahm and Bretaigne Windust, starring James Mason and Robert Preston.]
The popularity of these pictures suggests why THREE CASES OF MURDER may have been made in 1955, though the minor craze for this kind of film was on the wane. Some say Welles himself directed "The Lord Montdrago" segment (taken from a . . . Somerset Maugham short story) rather than George Moore O'Farrell. Recalling that Welles often used segments in his American Radio work, one wonders why he did not try to make such a full length picture himself.
A coincidental note: Wendy Toye, a pioneer woman director, as well as an actress and dance instructor (THE THIEF OF BAGDAD, 1939), did "The Picture," the first story in THREE CASES OF MURDER, and a number of critics say it is the best of them; Sidney Carrol wrote the screen play for the second ("You Killed Elizabeth"); and Alan Badel appears in all three adaptations.
In 1952, Badel starred in "The Stranger Left No Card," directed by Toye, written by Carroll, a story with overtones of "The Picture," and one of the best short films ever made. It would have been a wonderful companion in a picture called Four Cases of Murder. Toye's last credited work was a remake of her short, retitled "Stranger in Town," for ROALD DAHL'S TALES OF THE UNEXPLAINED tv series, starring Derek Jacobi, in 1982.
If you have ever seen "The Stranger Left No Card," you may imagine how Orson Welles would have relished having directed that story .