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This was the fourth and final offering in the Rutherford/Marple quartet of
old English masterpieces. As good as it was though - and it did not let us
down as yet another reminder of how quaint some parts of a middle class
England of yesteryear were - this was, perhaps, the least riveting of the
great Dame's portrayal of the delightful Miss Marple.
For those who are interested in locations, the centrepiece of the tale, H.M.S.Battledore, was anchored in the bay betwixt Falmouth and St.Mawes (in cushty Cornwall) with the latter named small town providing the backdrop for the thefts of the scallywags who were supposed to be being reformed as part of a trust initiative to aid young men who had been led astray. From the outset of the plot, a 'snuff' murder way ahead of its time, we were kept on our toes as Miss Marple (as ever, ably assisted by her elderly beau, Mr.Stringer) weaved her way through the suspects aboard that fabulous old ship which looks as if it has just been vacated by Drake or Nelson. Nevertheless, the contemporary Captain, played to perfection (by Lionel Jeffries) with a mixture of 'old sea salt' zest and a zany personality unmatched by the rest of the crew, almost upstages the film's star with his demeanour ranging from the seeming son of Blackbeard through to a sort of Peter Pan who has lived all his dreams and desires of great seamanship within a perpetual stone's throw of land.
The sword fight at the end may ahve been a bit naff - but it didn't matter, we knew who would win as Jane was bound to have been a fencing champion of some sort in her merry old past. But what was surprsing was that this proved to be the last of a proven fromula that ought to have been repeated many times over.
A thoroughly good yarn - best watched with a flaggon of cider to keep one's whistle wet!
Miss Marple joins the board of senior trustees for a youth reformation
committee, which prides itself on reforming troublesome teenagers by
means of naval cadet training on board a ship called The Battledore.
But when one of her fellow trustees is murdered by his snuff being
laced with poison, Miss Marple learns that he had just returned from a
routine visit to The Battledore and she suspects that the motive for
his murder must lie on the ship. Using her position as senior trustee,
Miss Marple pays a visit to the ship much to the chagrin of the
eccentric Captain Rhumstone (Lionel Jeffries) who seems anxious to get
rid of her. With the help of her loyal friend Mr Stringer (Stringer
Davis), she soon learns that the shore leave patrol has been committing
a series of jewel thefts from the high society. But the question is
which one? Meanwhile, Lieutenant Compton (Francis Matthews) has been
run through with a sword and hung from the ship's yardarm and suspicion
immediately falls on Sub Lieutenant Humbert (Derek Nimmo) whom didn't
get along with Compton because they both fancied the same girl, Nurse
Shirley (Norma Foster). As usual, Chief Inspector Craddock (Charles
Tingwell) thinks he's got an open and shut case, but Miss Marple isn't
convinced of Humbert's guilt even though the jewel robberies were all
committed after high society parties, all of which he and Shirley had
both attended. In her usual shrewd way, Miss Marple sets a trap for the
killer and uncovers a big swindle attached to the higher ranks among
the committee but not before Shirley is murdered by a poisoned spike
primed to a mousetrap...
Murder Ahoy was the fourth and final entry in the series of comedy whodunits starring Rutherford as Miss Marple. The series was doing well at the box office, but the producers were unable to get the rights to any more of Christie's works. In addition, this is the only one that wasn't adapted from a Christie novel and the film was produced in 1964, but released at the end of 1965 in order to space out the series. Following the end of the Miss Marple franchise, director Pollock would make one more feature before he more or less vanished from the scene. Another Christie, Ten Little Indians (see my review), for Fu Manchu producer Harry Alan Towers.
All in all, Murder Ahoy is fantastic light hearted fun with Rutherford on fine form as usual as the spinster detective. She gets good support from Lionel Jeffries as the Captain and Stringer Davis offers his touching portrayal as the local librarian Mr Stringer who is Miss Marple's closest friend and is always concerned that her meddling may result in her getting bumped off, but its never any use as she is determined to unravel the mystery and she does in her own inimitable fashion. Moments to savour here include her sword fight with the killer at the climax when she assures her assailant "I must warn you that in 1931 I was the winner of the ladies fencing championship." Screenwriters David Pursall and Jack Seddon came up with quite a good storyline of their own and the identity of the killer is well concealed until the end, but I felt that the script could of been a little tighter. Nevertheless, its all good fun and Rutherford has no trouble in dominating the film with her uniquely individual performance as Miss Marple, George Pollock's direction is smooth and the atmospheric black and white camera-work of Desmond Dickinson is an added bonus.
When I saw the movie for the first time some 25 years ago I did not like it.Today I find it quite entertaining and I have much fun to watch it.Hindsight displays its charm.First of all,this is the kind of movie they do not do (and won't do) anymore.George Pollock,the par excellence Agatha Christie director -he directed three other Miss Marple films and the second version of "and then there were none" aka" ten little Indians" - is no genius but his movie has its fair share of humor,even black humor (the doctor does not seem to take the deaths seriously,always making sure a child be born to carry on,so to speak).This is an original screenplay ,not adapted from a Christie's book and that accounts for the rather weak detective plot.But interest lies elsewhere:Margaret Rutherford's mischievous old lady detective is allowed things Mrs Christie would not have thought of : spending a night in jail and fighting a duel (sabers) with the culprit!
The third and arguably best film from the Miss Marple films of the 6o's. This time out Miss Marple must solve a mysterious death concerning a trustee and a snuff box, which eventually lands her on board a ship as an observing trustee. Once aboard, Miss Marple and her presence seemingly invite murder after murder. Margaret Rutherford furls her sails and lends the film her gargantuan aplomb. She is a battleship on screen. The cast also includes Stringer Davis(real-life husband) and Charles Tingwell(Inspector Craddock) reprising earlier roles. Lionel Jeffries is the ship's captain and he is simply marvelous as he bemoans Marple's presence and even calling her "a Jonah and an ill wind blowing." Definitely a treat and comic tour-de-force for Rutherford, who we get to see fence no less, and Jeffries.
I have enjoyed watching all the Miss Marple/Margaret Rutherford movies for
they provide light entertainment. This one in particular was worth your
because of a great performance by Lionel Jeffries as the captain of the
ship. Jeffries, Rutherford, and Ron Goodwin's marvelous music make the
a treat to watch. Of course, the direction lacks punch if we judge it 40
years after it was made.
The Rutherford/Stringer relationship (that was not Agatha Christie's) on and off screen adds additional trivia interest. I note that Stringer died soon after the death of Dame Rutherford.
Just a little rectification: if the order of releases in Great-Britain is correct, this film is the fourth, not the third, in the series. The British releases were as follow: Murder, She Said - August, 1961 Murder at the Gallop - April, 1963 Murder Most Foul - February, 1964 Murder Ahoy - July, 1964
Seems old Follie Hardwick gets snuffed out after a visit to the HMS Battledorn, a old wreck used to rehibilitate wayward boys. That leaves another old wreck, Jane Marple to personally investigate the shennanigans aboard ship, and so she does much to the shagrin of all aboard including the eventual murder. This is great fun and Dame Rutherford is at her peak. I think its the best of the four Christie films in this series, altho they are all great.
I enjoyed watching this film so much. It has to be the best of the Miss
Marple films made from 1961 - 1965, starring Margaret Rutherford.
Miss Marple is working as a trustee of a fund in association with a ship that handles young criminals. On a return visit from the ship, a trustee is murdered and Miss Marple decides to go on board the ship to find any clues about the murder, suspecting the murderer is a crew member, causing much distress for the Captain and the Inspector leading the investigation.
This film is a good crime-comedy feature from 1964 and I'm sure everybody who likes that genre will enjoy this film tremendously.
Whilst visiting the monthly meeting of a naval trust set up long ago
one of her relatives, Miss Marple is surprised by the rudeness of
Follie Hardwick who demands to speak outside of the agenda. Hardwick
insists that his news will drop the rest of the agenda as irrelevant
and, taking a pinch of snuff, he stands to speak. Seconds later he is
dead from a heart attack and the police are called. Marple notices
later that someone has stolen the dead man's snuff, but left the
snuffbox. Believing the death was murder by way of poisoned snuff, Miss
Marple insists on investigating, much to the chagrin of Detective
For many viewers, myself included, this is not really a Miss Marple film as we think of it. For most of us this should be a film with Joan Hickson that is very slow and very English, however this is not to say that the Rutherford versions are not any good because they are actually pretty enjoyable. Less of a Miss Marple film, this is more a Margaret Rutherford film because she does her usual performance of huff, puff and sheer bloody-minded persistence. The plot is written around this well and is lively and fun with a surprise amount of comedy for a mystery film. The actual development of the case is not that strong but the whole thing is entertaining enough to avoid having to rely too heavily on just this aspect.
The cast make it work as well as it does. Rutherford could be accused of doing what comes naturally but so what if it works? Real life partner Stringer Davis is good value as always in his small role as is Tingwell in the typically cynical Detective Inspector. The crew of the ship are great fun; Jeffries is nearly always funny and he is well supported by Nimmo, Parsons, Mervyn and Benham. Nobody is brilliant and the film belongs to Rutherford, but the presence of some great comedians helps matters.
Overall this is an entertaining and enjoyable film that is driven by the force of Rutherford's presence. She may not be a great Miss Marple but she does what she does well. The rest of the cast are fun as well and they manage to cover the fact that the mystery side of things could have been stronger and more interesting. Light fun though.
I always enjoy a chance to see any of the four Murder mysteries Margaret Rutherford made during the 1960's as Agatha Christie's Miss. Marple. While she doesn't fit the traditional description, she is a hoot to watch! I think these are all great fun, and she is just a classic!
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