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This MGM British production, part of a series starring the incomparable
Margaret Rutherford, is as enjoyable today, as it was when it was
released. George Pollock, the director deserves credit for the
immensely satisfying film version of Agatha Christie's "Mrs. McGinty's
Death". The excellent copy we saw recently on TCM appears as good now,
as it probably did when it first made its theatrical debut.
Miss Jane Marple was Agatha Christie's best creation. She is a no nonsense woman who can't be easily persuaded to condemn the man on trial, in which she is seen as part of the jury at the start of the film. Ms. Marple knows the man is not guilty, even when she gets the other jury members to give her dirty looks when she votes against the others to acquit the man on trial.
Miss Marple starts digging around the dead woman's room and discovers the programs for "Murder, She Said", a play by the theatrical production company that is performing at a theater near her. She enlists her friend Jim Stringer to help her catch the culprit. We are not prepared to see Miss Marple become part of a second rate theatrical troupe touring the country.
"Murder Most Foul" is a must to be seen by all Agatha Christie's fans and mystery fans because of the charisma Margaret Rutherford exuded playing the title character. Ms. Rutherford was an actress that always delivered in her many films. She is an acquired taste that ages well as a good wine.
The supporting cast play like an ensemble. Ron Moody, Charles Tingwell, Stringer Davis, Francesca Annis, Terry Scott, Dennis Price, and the rest, do what they do best and in the process enhance the film.
This is a tribute to the genius of the Jane Marple of Margaret Rutherford!
Some lovely bits here, based again on an Agatha Christie novel, not
featuring Jane Marple however, but a Hercule Poirot mystery adapted and
extremely loosely plotted to enhance the idiosyncratic manner of
actress Miss Margaret Rutherford.
Margaret, trying out for a local theatre group in order to expose the real murderer, reciting a Robert Service poem to the disinterest of cast members, director and stagehands has to be seen to be believed. Her clicking knitting needles in the jury box, her one dissenting vote invalidating the whole judicial process, her self righteous oblivion to the glares of the judge, are comedic timing at its best. Her scenes with the company are wonderful and her slow, methodical denouement of the murderer exquisite.
Just curl up with this one. Great old actors from the sixties. A brilliant series. 8 out of 10.
In this, the third of a series of four films of Margaret Rutherford
depicting Miss Marple, we are lavishly entertained by a witty whodunnit
which is set, most appropriately, within and around a travelling theatre
troupe. In my view, this is the best of Rutherford's renditions of this
character - and, as ever, she is massively supported by a rock-solid cast
which merges mirth with menace in adequate proportions.
The decent, yet slightly inept, Inspector Craddock (Charles Tingwell) is ably assisted, in a needy negative way, by the clearly less able policemen, Wells and Brick (Scott and Davies) in trying to convict an 'obvious' criminal for a heinous murder. Adding to this, the ineptitude of a firm and forthright judge (Andrew Cruickshank) alongside an evidently incapable jury, leads us once again to the necessity of 'our Jane' solving the crime for us. To do so, she must join a theatre group which is riddled with a relevant variety of seemingly good suspects - but which is led by an over-the-top character, Driffold Cosgood (played to perfection by the brilliant Ron Moody). The bit where Cosgood changes his mood and his mind in mid-sentance (..."Dear Lady...") is a piece that is worthy of Shakespeare as a refusal is turned into a plea - but there are plenty of other endearing and engaging moments throughout the rest of an accomplished production.
With your port, or a nice bottle of wine, wait until it's dark and raining outside, then snuggle up to this wonderful jaunt through the curious backdrop of a theatre and its performers presenting a different kind of 'playing' than one would normally expect.
George Pollock's name never gets mentioned among major directors. Yet four
of his Miss Marple films as best remembered for Ron Goodwin's music and the
wonderful Dame Margaret Rutherford and real life husband Stringer
The four films of Pollock combined mystery with comedy in a way that it entertains even after 40 years after the films were made. The elements that hold up these four films were great casting, good screenplay, crisp editing, and charming music and sound effects. Pollock is not a David Lean or a philosopher-director. He is merely making cinema that is gripping and entertaining and how well he accomplishes this.
This film is the second only to "Murder Ahoy" among the four. And since "Murder Ahoy" followed "Murder Most Foul", it would be only too clear that Pollock was gaining in confidence and elegance with each film. In each of his "Murder" films Pollock cast a major British actor. In this one it is the talented Ron Moody (Fagin of "Oliver!"). In each of the four films the chosen British actor provides a counterpoint and balance to Dame Rutherford's major role. One tends to remember Miss Marple and not the other meaty roles (Lionel Jeffries, Robert Morley, James Robertson Justice)in each of the "Murder" films. All the four were memorable but Moody and Jeffries were truly remarkable. I found this a major work of Moody though not as memorable as his interpretation of Fagin and Uriah Heep in other films.
The juxtaposition of crime and comedy looks natural thanks to Pollock and imaginative casting. Pollock is probably a quiet achiever deserving more attention by critics and historians of British cinema.
Jane's on jury duty and is the only one to find NOT GUILTY to a murder charge so she is off to find the real killer. She auditions to join the cast of a traveling players group in a get-up with a huge hydrangea blossom plunked in her bosom and recites "The killing of Dan McGrew". It's wonderful. The rest of the film is entertaining and the finale typically ironic and comical. These films are great, easy to watch and very light hearted.
Jane Marple joins a rather interesting acting troupe in order to find out the real killer of Mrs. McGinty, a woman hanged in her apartment. Marple initially is a member of a jury judging the case of a man who she believes was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Once a part of the acting company, murder follows and Jane's life becomes in great peril. Margaret Rutherford once again dons the role of super-sleuth Jane Marple. She looks like she is having so much fun with the role as she rolls her eyes, makes suggestive facial expressions, and furls her capes. She truly is a joy to watch as she waltzes her way through this rather tame, uninspired material. But what the story lacks in creativity, she adds with her screen persona. Her recitation of the Robert Service poem "The Killing of Dan McGrew" is worth a look at the film alone. Stringer Davis, as her librarian friend(and real-life husband) and Charles Tingwell, as Inspector Craddock, are back once again to aid Miss Marple(not that she really needs their help). Both actors are fun to watch as they interact with the grand dame. Ron Moody plays the head of the acting troupe. He is as ever very eccentric and plays nicely off Rutherford as well. It's a pity this was the last of the Marple/Rutherford films. They are so much fun to watch!
This is the third entry in MGM's quintet of Miss Marple whodunits
starring Rutherford as the eccentric yet highly intelligent spinster
detective who time and time again has proved herself more competent
than the investigating police even though she is only armed with her
knowledge of crime detective novels.
In this feature, Miss Marple is on jury service at the trial of a young man called Howard Taylor whom is accused of killing his landlady Mrs McGinty for her savings. All members of the jury are convinced of Taylor's guilt except Miss Marple. As a result they are unable to say if Taylor is guilty or not guilty and the trial has to be postponed until a later date. This gives Miss Marple the breathing space she needs to find the real killer. The trail leads her to discover that Mrs McGinty was a blackmailer and that she was blackmailing a member of "The Cosgood Players", which is run by the bungling playwright and director Driffold Cosgood (RON MOODY). She manages to secure a place in the company following an unlikely rendition of Robert W. Service's poem "The Shooting Of Dan McGrew" and she is now able to investigate her fellow actors. Two more murders follow within the company before Miss Marple is able to lay a trap for the killer. As usual the hapless Chief Inspector Craddock (CHARLES TINGWELL) resents her interference but as usual she comes out on top even though Craddock is promoted to Chief Inspector for his work on the case but it was Miss Marple who solved it for him!
All in all, MURDER MOST FOUL (adapted loosely from Agatha Christie's 1952 publication Mrs McGinty's Dead in which Hercule Poirot solved the case), has all the comedy delight and charm of its two predecessors, which made the series so popular. Director George Pollock who by now had proved that he was a very efficient craftsman effortlessly blends the humor with mystery and one isn't allowed to overlap the other - something that has ruined mystery films in the past. Rutherford plays Miss Marple with a great deal of authority and as always she steals the show. But Ron Moody as Cosgood, Tingwell as Craddock and Stringer Davies (Rutherford's real life husband) as her trusty sidekick Mr Stringer all deserve good notices as does composer Ron Goodwin, director Pollock and cinematographer Desmond Dickinson whose black and white camera-work lends the production a considerable atmosphere of the mysterious.
Margaret Rutherford makes an amusing Miss Marple in this all-English version of Agatha Christie's "Mrs. McGinty's Dead". With an outstanding supporting cast she manages to solve the murder mystery after joining the cast of a local theater group. A quiet but very english film; filmed in black and white it looks as if it is an older film than it is, but also has a modern feel to it since it was filmed in 1964. Ron Moody is wonderful as the theatrical Clifford Cosgood, who tries to convince Miss Marple to invest in his next play. Charles Tingwell plays the police inspector who gets all his clues from Miss Marple and seems always to be three steps behind her.
When Agatha Christie created the spinster detective Jane Marple, she could
never have pictured Rutherford playing the role on film.
Leaving aside Rutherfords distance from the written charecter, she does bring a wonderful quality to this film and the others in the series.
Playing opposite her real life husband, Stringer Davies, and with great support from Charles Tingwell, she sets out to prove that a miscarriage of justice is being perpetrated.
This brings her into contact with the Cosgood Players, run by Driffield Cosgood (Ron Moody).
Typically with Christie, the plot is not always fathomable, but the denouement is entertaining.
This film is good fun and Rutherford is hilarious as she gurns her way through the story.
During the trial of the prime suspect of the murder of Mrs. McGinty,
Miss Jane Marple (Margaret Rutherford) is the only member of the jury
that believes that the accused is innocent. The judge schedules another
trial and Miss Marple invites her friend Jim Stringer (Stringer Davis)
to go to the house of the victim to talk with her sister and snoop
Miss Marple discovers that Mrs. McGinty was an actress and she joins the theatrical company of H. Driffold Cosgood (Ron Moody) to investigate and find the real killer. But soon people around her dies and Inspector Craddock (Charles Tingwell) and Mr. Stringer are worried about her safety.
"Murder Most Foul" is another entertaining story by Agatha Christie with her sweet and snoopy Miss Marple. Mrs. Margaret Rutherford is hilarious and her logic is always funny, especially when she discusses the crimes with Inspector Craddock. My vote is six.
Title (Brazil): "Crime É Crime" ("Crime Is Crime")
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