While on vacation at a resort hotel in the West Indies, Miss Marple correctly suspects that the apparently natural death of a retired British major is actually the work of a murderer planning yet another killing.
A friend of Miss Marple's sees a woman being strangled in a passing train. When police cannot find a body and doubt the story, Miss Marple enlists professional housekeeper, Lucy Eyelesbarrow, to go undercover.
Miss Jane Marple is staying at an elegant hotel from her childhood compliments of her nephew Raymond. Also there is international adventurer Bess Sedgwick and Lady Selena Hazy (Joan Greenwood in her next to last performance). A doorman working at the hotel turns out to be from Bess' past, and when he is killed, she is the prime suspect. But what does his murder have to do with the disappearance of an elderly vicar staying at the hotel, and a string of robberies over the last few months? Miss Marple must find out before the murderer strikes again!!! Written by
Mike Hatchett <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The finest of Joan Hickson's Miss Marple mysteries, gorgeously produced.
From 1984 thru 1992, the delightful British actress Joan Hickson took on the role of Agatha Christie's amateur detective, the beloved Miss Marple, and made a dozen made-for-TV British movies. Every entry in this golden dozen has its own particular delights, but "At Bertram's Hotel" towers above them all and is by far the best of this 24-hour treat (each film runs a bit under two hours, and each one could easily have been given a theatrical release). The fact that "At Bertram's Hotel" rises above all the others is indeed peculiar, in that it was one of Ms. Christie's final books, and the book is--to put it bluntly--a deadly bore. In contrast, the movie is a luscious, witty, suspenseful treat. Credit is due to Jill Hyem, who wrote the cunning script, shrewdly discarding the flotsam of the novel and embellishing its virtues; Mary McMurray's delectable direction; John Walker's gorgeous burnished cinematography of Production Designer Paul Munting's luxurious sets. And, of course, Joan Hickson's crafty portrayal of the elderly spinster Miss Marple, abetted by a first-rate cast (including Joan Greenwood in one of her last performances). There have been three actresses I know of who have essayed the role of Miss Marple: the full-sized, hilarious Margaret Rutherford in 4 films released in the early 1960s (if you've never seen these jewels or Ms. Rutherford's glorious jowls, check TCM's listings and tape them; you'll cherish them forever); Angela Lansbury in the 1980 theatrical release "The Mirror Cracked," yet another treat co-starring Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, Tony Curtis and the ravishing Kim Novak (I've always considered this film as Ms. Lansbury's dress rehearsal for her forthcoming TV-series as Jessica Fletcher in "Murder, She Wrote"); and then this sunburst of expensively mounted TV productions from 1984-1992. Most critics prefer Miss Hickson's interpretation of the role, feeling she was the perfect embodiment of the Miss Marple of Ms. Christie's creation--a prim, prissy, nosey (but utterly humorless) spinster. To me, all three actresses are equally amazing, each making the role her own (though I do have a soft spot for the rambunctuous, sheer hilarity the indomitable Margaret Rutherford brought to the role). Comparisons aside, "At Bertram's Hotel" is probably the slyest and most enjoyable of ALL the Miss Marple films. Set at an exclusive hotel, the plot twists and turns as, first of all, the doorman is murdered; secondly, the elderly vicar who has resided at the opulent establishment mysteriously vanishes; and, thirdly, what do these have in common with a series of jewel robberies that have been going on for several months? Don't drive yourself crazy trying to figure things out. The sprightly 80-year-old (at the time of filming) Miss Hickson will do the job for you; and watching her in action, in lavish settings peopled with a superb cast of British actors, is a memorable treat the likes of which we'll probably never see again. (Incidentally, Ms. Hickson had a supporting role in the first Margaret Rutherford/Miss Marple outing, the outrageously funny and suspenseful "Murder, She Said." At the time, who would have guessed . ..
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