Miss Marple: They Do It with Mirrors
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Reviews & Ratings for
Miss Marple: They Do It with Mirrors (TV) More at IMDbPro »

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16 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

Miss Marple comes to the aid of an old friend while solving yet another untimely demise

10/10
Author: davidhyatt (charlesdhyatt@yahoo.com) from Raleigh-Durham NC
8 September 2005

Miss Marple is the best of friends with two aging sisters. One sister, who thinks the other is in danger, has Miss Marple to pay a timely visit. Upon arriving she encounters a host of garden variety misfits and reform school types, along with their keepers, sharing the estate grounds with her friend. All of this makes for a genuinely great plot that includes the murder of the family Patriarch by which Miss Marple further sharpens her already keenly honed crime solving acumen.

This is one of the better TV-Movie adaptations that preserves the plot from novel to the screen. The screenplay flows well, has no obvious holes or gaps, the acting is grade A, and the Directing is Superb. I highly recommend this particular film as one of the BEST Miss Marple TV-Movies ever!!!

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6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Solid adaptation, it owes a great debt to the charisma of Joss Ackland and brilliance of Jean Simmons.

8/10
Author: Paul Evans from Swansea, United Kingdom
3 November 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Jane Marple calls on old friend Ruth at the fancy Savoy hotel, Miss Marple had spent time with Ruth and her sister Carrie Louise when they were younger. Ruth explains that she fears for Carrie Louise's life, a wealthy woman, now on her third husband Lewis Serrocold. He has converted her great house into an institution for reforming juveniles. One night Christian Gulbrandsen, the son of Ruth's first husband turns up unannounced to talk with Lewis. Christian retires as the other guests watch films of the girls in their youth, a fuse blows distracting everyone, during that time someone manages to kill Christian.

I truly love Joan Hickson's adaptations of Miss Marple, she is in my opinion the quintessential Jane Marple. It's one of my lesser favourites in the series. I'll try and explain why.

The novel itself isn't one of my favourites, I find the trickery of the murder works better in the book (in my mind) then it does on screen. In terms of production I find it safe, but still very good, when compared to other adaptations it's quite not there.

On the plus side the acting is superb, Hickson is as always excellent, Holly Aird is wonderfully youthful and vibrant as Gina. The legendary Jean Simmons is incredibly sweet, she gave a sensitive and believable performance of the fragile Carrie Louise. I am a bit biased when it comes to Joss Ackland, he is hugely charismatic, at times almost overpoweringly so, but here we see a restrained, dare I say touching performance, his voice makes him incredibly watchable.

The scene I enjoyed most of all I think was the stage play, Ruth looks on awkwardly, Miss Marple watches intently. It's there to show that events are sometimes smoke and mirrors, it's cleverly put together. I also like their later fireside chat where she talks about the robberies committed by starting the bonfires early.

I would still give it a score of 8/10, it is still an excellent production, it's just that I have such high regards for others in the series. I must say I find the later Marple a particularly good production from a frequently bemoaned series.

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10 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Not a particularly good adaptation

6/10
Author: ash880
11 May 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The novel on which this adaptation is based was not one of Christie's best works to begin with. However the way the (first) murder was carried out in the book was brilliant. In this adaptation the exact details of the crime are left out; the plan of the house shown briefly in the earlier part is not brought up again to explain how the murderer got to the victim's room, nor is the sound of running footsteps heard by Alex Restarick elaborated upon. Without these explanations I fear the casual viewer may have some unanswered questions at the end of the film.

The film does, however, have its saving grace - in the casting department. Faith Brook and Jean Simmons in particular shine in their respective roles of Ruth van Rydock and Carrie-Louise Serrocold. The two sisters' friendship with Jane Marple is best seen in the rather touching final sequence.

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7 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Not one of the better entries in this series

6/10
Author: Iain-215 from United Kingdom
5 April 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Sadly, this is not one of my favourites in the BBC Hickson series. I think they tailed off a little towards the end and this was one of the later ones to be made. It's not actually one of the best of the Marple books in my opinion and this adaptation sticks quite closely to the source material. The story had a previous outing with Helen Hayes as the very American Miss Marple and an aged Bette Davies as her friend Carrie Louise. Both characters are improved upon in this version - indeed Jean Simmons' portrayal of Carrie Louise was the high point of the film for me. Joss Ackland does a decent enough job as the frustrated do-gooder Lewis Serrocold but I'm not really a fan of this actor generally and the rest of the cast are so-so. The character of Ruth van Rydock is given more to do than in the book which works quite well but I missed the character of Miss Bellever (the excellent Frances de la Tour in the Hayes film).

It passes a pleasant couple of hours but there are better entries than this in the series.

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5 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Sordid squalor

10/10
Author: Dr Jacques COULARDEAU from Olliergues, France
12 February 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Miss Marple in this story goes down to the bottom of the sinister pit of ugly greed. A father is using his own son to cover up his own crime and the son is accepting to do that in order to finally get out of his bastard status and be recognized as a legitimate son. And the end is even more pitiful than this plan would sound to normal minds. This film is directed in such a way that the setting, which is sinister in many ways, appears so at least one hundred times more than it actually is. A certain Agatha Christie had apparently read some of her classics like "Women in Love" and the death of two lovers at the end of the book. She also had managed to integrated "Romeo and Juliet" in her tale. But what is essential is the fact that a rich heiress is trying to use the money she got from her husband in a fund to help young criminals be rehabilitated but she does not see the greed that surrounds her in all possible ways and makes her attempt at being a good lady in a harsh society so vain and definitely dangerous for her own health. Too naïve she is and endangering her own life by bringing around her the people who have multiple reasons to get rid of her.

Dr Jacques COULARDEAU

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6 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Good in terms of acting and quality, but disappointing as an adaptation

7/10
Author: TheLittleSongbird from United Kingdom
11 October 2009

Although I really liked this, it is a disappointment after the delightful Murder Is Announced. Then again the book isn't Agatha Christie's best, although it's well written and perplexing, it is for me one of the weaker Marple books. There were several things I liked about the adaptation, one was the acting. Joan Hickson is a sheer delight as Miss Marple, and Faith Brook and Jean Simmons were very effective as Carrie-Louise and Ruth. Their end scene in particular was very poignant. Joss Ackland has a little less to do, but he turned in a solid performance. The adaptation is beautifully photographed, and the music is stunning. However, I had a real problem with the pace, the adaptation does start off very slowly, and never quite recovers. Out of the Joan Hickson adaptations, it is one of the least faithful ones. The elements that made the book perplexing were either left out or a tad underdeveloped. Consequently the plot is hard to follow and I will admit the final solution left me baffled. Overall, disappointing but well acted and beautifully filmed, so worth a look. 7/10 Bethany Cox

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2 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

A Tangled Web.

5/10
Author: Robert J. Maxwell (rmax304823@yahoo.com) from Deming, New Mexico, USA
19 December 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Joan Hickson as Miss Marple visits a girlhood friend, Jean Simmons, at Stoneygate, run as an institution for disturbed boys by Simmons' husband, Joss Ackland. There are numerous other guests and relatives. And when a character in this kind of story describes the family's relationships as "tangled," you can BELIEVE that they're tangled.

Some old friend of the family comes from the city to check the Institute's books and is shot dead for his pains. There are even more suspects than usual because, after all, there are a dozen or so mentally ill young men running around. We see two of them enacting the duel between Mercutio and Tybalt from "Romeo and Juliet" and watch them suffer an amygdala hijack and go at one another with a real knife. And then there are jealousies, intrigues, and one young man who acts as an assistant to Ackland and claims to be the son of Winston Churchill. (The period is post-war.)

I guess I'm rather a dim bulb because I found it hard to understand some of the actions of the characters. Ackland's motive I could grasp. But those of his suicidal son? I'm in the dark, just as the characters are when the fuse blows, the movie projector stops, and the house is thrown into darkness.

There seems to be more bang for the buck with Hercule Poirot than with Miss Marple. Poirot -- David Suchet in the TV series -- is quirky. He is to Sherlock Holmes what matter is to anti-matter. But Hickson as Miss Marple reminds me of my dear old Grandma from Durham, a dreary city in northeast England, a nice old lady who was always sticking her nose into things. Miss Marple suffers also from having a face as interesting as a bowl of porridge.

Joss Ackland, for once, with his deep baritone and mountainous presence, doesn't wobble his jowls. His character may be murderous but he's not without guilt and sensitivity. Jean Simmons is no longer the young Ophelia or the teeny bopper Estella in "Great Expectations" but still smolders with a dark and ancient beauty. The nutty kid -- to whom another character refers as "Mister Pecan Pie" -- overacts. There are two understated comic scenes. One in which the deluded kid reveals to Miss Marple that he is the son of Churchill. ("I see," she replies, looking away.) The other consists of hints that Inspector Slack would love to become an amateur magician and is always hiding that fact from everyone else, always on the verge of being caught with his bag of paraphernalia and always embarrassed by it.

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3 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

How Do You Saw A Woman In Half?

6/10
Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York
19 March 2012

Joan Hickson as Agatha Christie's intrepid Ms. Jane Marple gets invited by an old friend Faith Brook who is concerned about her sister Jean Simmons. Jane as a solver of murder mysteries has a reputation which is why Brook seeks her out. And as Simmons is also a friend of Ms. Marple she's only happy to help.

It's only too true, but the attempts at homicide toward Jean Simmons come later. While the lights are out, another guest is murdered, one who had something to tell Simmons, but never got to do it.

Between Simmons and Brook they've got quite an assortment of relations and Simmons's husband Joss Ackland has turned the estate into some kind of experimental school for young juvenile offenders in post World War II Great Britain. So you've got some lovely delinquents having a run of the place as well.

The suspect is pretty obvious in the fact that he's giving all kinds of disinformation to the police. But how he did it is the real mystery here. And there is an accomplice who has a key role.

Remember at the very end Hickson asks the question just how does a woman get sawed in half by a magician? That answer tells everyone including the audience who the killer is.

Nice quality Agatha Christie mystery with Joan Hickson as a doggedly determined Ms. Marple.

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5 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Is it deliberately uninvolving by design or by flaw? Either way the outcome is the same

Author: bob the moo from United Kingdom
16 January 2012

Despite thinking that I had seen the vast majority of the BBC Marple films, my second random one in as many days turned out to be yet another one I had never seen before. Sleeping Murder had been the first and had been surprising accessible and lively and the opening of Mirrors made me think it would be more of the same, with the American voices and the tone of the opening scenes. I was also familiar with the story as I had seen the ITV Marple films adapt it as well. Sadly They Do It with Mirrors turned out to be a real summary of what I tend to dislike about the Marple series.

Running long (particularly with adverts lasting 4 minutes every 10-15 minutes) the film really takes its time with everything but not in a way that hooks me. Ironically I felt that Sleeping Murder was almost too accessible and easy to follow, but yet at the same time I appreciated it for this. They Do it with Mirrors goes the other direction by quite some measure as it does almost nothing to assist the viewer in keeping up with Marple or indeed even CI Slack. Instead of clues or red-herrings what we are given are characters and details – but none of which really are much used until we enter that final room for the traditional reveal. Like tedg said in his review, the viewer here is never allowed to be taken along with the case – we are sitting in the final room with the rest of them, knowing who people are but learning stuff we didn't know before and couldn't have figured out.

The problem I have with this is that I feel excluded and just expected to wait rather than be involved in the mystery. The longer this goes on the less inclined I was to care and by the end I was really not paying much attention to it. There never appears to be much in the delivery to intrigue the viewer or make them think – I watched this knowing the story but yet still didn't really know where it was going and while I'm open to the idea of me being dumb, I think part of it was that the film wasn't actually going anywhere until it got to the final reveal. I'd like to say the pieces all fell into place at this point, but they don't because we hadn't been given pieces – only characters, no clues, no nuggets etc. The cast are solid throughout despite this; I do like Hickson as Marple and enjoy her way of playing it as all observation and gossip – the downside is that she does live in her head as a character so she needs the script to help her in terms of what the viewer can "see", she gets no such help with this one.

I'm not sure if it is deliberate or by design but this film was incredibly uninvolving – it offered me nothing throughout and then suddenly pulls the solution out of nowhere. It is difficult to care and before the reveal scene I had really stopped being interested since the film itself seemed so uninterested in me.

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5 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Bowen Shoots Christie

Author: tedg (tedg@filmsfolded.com) from Virginia Beach
18 October 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Spoilers herein.

Dame Agatha must be turning and turning. She spends her energy finding that thin edge between disclose and confusion to tantalize us into a game. It is among the most engaging trick in all literature.

But along comes the heavy boot of TeeVee which (apparently) demands that people don't want to think, so jettison all the clues and games. Bowen's other adaptations usually plod on and surprise us all at the end. We are not detectives, but among the puzzled people in the parlor to whom explanations are made late.

But this is the worst. Christie often gives indirect clues by setting a theme: here it is illusion, the illusion of magic, of theater, of film, of ballet. He saves all this but makes it blunter. He saves some of the red herring events, but doesn't ripen any of them: what was the `student' doing by sneaking out?

Why do the brothers seriously chase a married woman? Of all the Hickson Marples, this one has the greatest distance between the coherence of the book and the incoherence of the adaptation.

Ted's Evaluation -- 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.

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