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.
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.
The normally friendly village of Lymston is plagued by vile anonymous letters. When a mother of three takes her own life, following such a letter, Ms. Marple is not at all convinced things are as they seem.
When Miss Marple's visiting friend sees a woman being strangled on a passing train, they immediately report it to the police. Inspector Slack sees Miss Marple as a bit of a busy body and drops the investigation after only a few days. Miss Marple however determines that there is only one spot along the line where a body could have been dumped and it happens to be very near the Crackenthorpe estate. She asks a professional housekeeper, Lucy Eyelesbarrow, to go there undercover as a domestic. She soon finds the dead woman's body at which time the police take on a renewed interest but it is left to Miss Marple to solve the mystery. Written by
When Miss Marple goes to meet Lucy for the first time at her club the interior is the same location used for Bertram's Hotel in "At Bertram's Hotel". See more »
When Dr Quimper takes the old man's blood pressure near the end of the movie, he doesn't have the stethoscope earpieces in his ears. See more »
Miss Jane Marple:
But of course you must go on searching, Inspector! Now you might say that Elspeth is not a sophisticated person, but, I assure you, she has both feet firmly on the ground. She saw what she saw!
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Hickson the Best Miss Marple of All Time -- Christie Would Have Approved
Many actresses in the twilight of their careers have taken on the role of Miss Marple, including Margaret Rutherford, Helen Hayes and the seemingly immortal Angela Landsbury. However, I believe the one actress whose claim to being closest to Christie's original vision was Joan Hickson. Joan Hickson in the 1980's literally was Miss Marple, not unlike Vivian Leigh who was Scarlett O'Hara. These two actresses were nearly born to play these roles, and whenever I read a Marple mystery, I imagine the likes of Hickson. Marple was probably Christie's most interesting creation, simmultaneously polite and sweet yet irritating and needling. She was always helping out on cases where Scotland Yard felt it was none of her business, which makes her quite an enigma. The little old spinster with the mind of an Einstein, Marple is the female equivalent of Sherlock Holmes.
These BBC productions are still some of the best adaptations of the Miss Marple cases written by Agatha Christie. Some viewers have criticized them for being rather plodding and slow. Ever read a Christie novel? These books were written deliberately in a rather slow and detailed manner because they were meant as literary puzzles. Christie's novels were not so much about insight into the human condition, such as in the work of P.D. James. Rather, Christie's books were specifically designed to offer the reader all the facts of the case, and the reader could try to solve the puzzle before the solution is revealed at the end.
"4:50 from Paddington" involves a friend of Miss Marple, Mrs McGillicuddy, who is traveling on a train from Paddington. At one point, her train passes another going the other direction. For a split second, she sees a murder being committed on the other train before it disappears. McGillicuddy just happens to be on her way to Miss Marple's hometown, St. Mary Mead. Mrs McGillicuddy visits Miss Marple and describes what she saw. While there have been no reports of any murder, Miss Marple believes her, begins to investigate, and pieces together the case.
One of the best Joan Hickson performances, and one of the better Miss Marple mysteries in general. If you've not seen Hickson as Marple, you have yet to see Miss Jane Marple in the flesh. I also have to give honorable mention to the sweet music which opens and closes these Marple mysteries. The oboe melody seems to be a perfect musical portrayal of one of the most memorable characters in the Mystery genre.
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