No one seems surprised when Colonel Lucius Protheroe, the most disliked person in St. Mary Mead, is found murdered in the local vicarage. Red herrings abound, especially when his widow and her lover both confess to the murder.
The villagers of Chipping Cleghorn are summoned by a newspaper notice to the house of Letitia Blacklock, anticipating an evening of murder games. But things become all too real when an intruder is shot dead.
A wealthy woman holds a party at her Devon estate for family and friends, including old schoolmate Miss Marple. When a solicitor and the hostess herself are both murdered, Miss Marple tries to find a clever killer with a devious plan.
Colonel Lucius Protheroe is probably the least-liked individual in St Mary Mead. All resent his superior and demanding attitude. So, when he is found dead in the vicarage study, there is no end of suspects. His wife Ann was having an affair with a local artist, Lawrence Redding. His daughter Lettice bridled under his strict rule. There is also the vicar and his assistant, whom Protheroe suspected of stealing church funds. Finally, there is the mysterious Mrs. Lester with whom he clearly had some previous connection. Jane Marple, recuperating at home from a sprained ankle, had a bird's eye view of all the comings and goings at the vicarage around the time of the murder and she gladly assists Inspector Slack in solving the crime. Written by
Miss Marple is shown reading Raymond Chandler's short story anthology "The Simple Art of Murder", which also contains his titular essay on the detective novel. In the essay, Chandler argues that, in real life, the most unsolvable murders are the simplest, and criticizes, among other writers, Agatha Christie for creating implausible, over-elaborate murder plots for her novels. See more »
In the beginning of the film, when Miss Marple is ready to go to church, you can see a calendar on the table showing August 1951. On the calendar, the month begins with a Tuesday. In fact, the 1st of August 1951 was a Wednesday. See more »
I recently watched "Marple: Murder at the Vicarage" (starring Geraldine McEwan), and must say I was not overly impressed.
If the police investigations of the day were conducted as they were in this dramatisation of Agatha Christie's novel, it's a wonder that any criminals were ever caught at all, much less convicted, with or without any dotty old ladies poking their noses in. Even in a pretend TV "whodunnit" investigation, a little reality goes a long way.
Not only was the murder scene not secured, but suspects "et al" were allowed to come and go through it at will, and in fact there was never any "boffin" in sight. No incident room was ever set up, but then I didn't see many police around to actually use one. No fingerprints appeared to have been taken or checked for (even though at the denouement it could clearly be seen that "dabs" were left all over said murder scene), and any reference to or collection of written statements were completely overlooked. Awkward for any later trial I would have thought. Albeit modern forensic science has advanced out of sight since the 1950's, initial proceedings were surely much the same then as they are now.
I was brought up in an English village during the same period (the Fifties) in which this production was set (although the book was written about 20 years earlier), but I didn't "recognise" any of the characters. They were all like plastic effigies straight out of a Hollywood studio, and the village itself from the top of a chocolate box. Although similarly born of Agatha Christie's pen, both characters and village were much more believable in the previous Joan Hickson series, and in which the direction was much more knowing. To its credit however, the story-line stays reasonably faithful to the novel, except for Professor Dufosse and his daughter. Where on earth did they come from? They're certainly not creations of Agatha Christie, and never appeared in the book. An unnecessary additional red-herring from the producers no doubt, or are they a replacement for Dr Stone (an archaeologist) and his secretary Miss Cram? If so, why? Why change the characters? Also, as another reviewer has reminded us, Miss Marple was the ultimate spinster and only had one small "fling" when young, which was maternally cut short.
Considering the impressive line up of star actors both young and old on display here, there should have been an equally impressive result. It was considerably short of that, and one is left to wonder why this re-make was ever produced, and with all due respect to Geraldine McEwan, magnificent actress though she is, the late Joan Hickson still reigns supreme as Jane Marple.
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