7.5/10
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The Moving Finger 

Troubled war veteran Jerry Burton and his sister Joanna rent a cottage in a seemingly tranquil English village which is plagued by a spate of poison pen letters... and murder.

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(based on the novel by), (screenplay)
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Cast

Episode cast overview, first billed only:
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Rev Caleb Dane Calthrop
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Mrs. Maud Dane Calthrop (as Frances De La Tour)
Thelma Barlow ...
Emily Barton
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Aimee Griffith (as Jessica Stevenson)
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Dr Owen Griffith
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Mona Symmington
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Richard Symmington
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Elsie Holland
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Rosalind Knight ...
Partridge
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Agnes
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Storyline

When troubled war veteran Jerry Burton and his sister Joanna relocate to the quiet little village of Lymstock in order to allow Jerry to recuperate from injuries received in what he claims is a motorcycle accident, they are expecting nothing more than country sleepiness and tedium. Much to their surprise, however, they find themselves embroiled in the middle of scandal and secrets; someone is sending vicious poison-pen letters to the residents. A local dignitary has already taken his own life over the letters, and it's not long before local gossip Mona Symmington also commits suicide after receiving a letter. But when the letter-writer apparently resorts to murder, Jerry finds his curiosity stoked despite himself, and he's not the only one; Miss Jane Marple is also in Lymstock, and she's decided that it's long past time someone got to the bottom of this unpleasant business. Written by Scotty

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Crime | Drama | Mystery

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TV-PG | See all certifications »

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12 February 2006 (USA)  »

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Did You Know?

Trivia

The title of the film (and the novel it's based on) is, like that of many other works by Agatha Christie, a quotation of a piece of poetry. "The Moving Finger" are the first words of a well known work by the medieval Persian poet Omar Khayyam. See more »

Goofs

Though the movie is set to happen in year 1952, one of the letter arriving to Symmington's before Mrs. Symmington's death bears a 1/3 stamp which was issued in 1958. See more »

Quotes

Joanna Burton: [to Jerry] You know, it's striking me as most extraordinary irony that you managed to survive the war with such flying colors yet seem to find the peace so defeating.
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User Reviews

 
Better than expected
28 August 2006 | by See all my reviews

There is many a war hero who has returned home asking the question...Why did I survive?...then suffering bouts of guilt, booze and depression, and thoughts of suicide. Such, presumably, is Jerry Burton's state of mind as he rides his motorcycle into a tree, escaping death, but incurring broken legs. (Or has he had a failed love affair? The script doesn't make the reason quite clear.) Recovering from the "accident", he completes his convalescence helped by his sister Joanne in the lovely idyllic village of Lymstock. Thus is an interesting deviation from the novel's flying accident theme. And for once in this series, given Agatha Christie's inclinations towards the use of psychology in her story-lines, I suspect the change might just have had her approval. It has no real bearing on the main plot of course, but gives a little more bite to Jerry's romance in it.

Unlike most of the episodes of the series "Marple", this adaptation of "The Moving Finger" stays, by and large, faithful to the original mystery, and I for one (after vilifying other episodes), must reluctantly confess that I rather enjoyed it, although more thought could have been given to the casting.

I was reared in an English village at the time that this story is supposed to take place. Never once did I see a vicar such as portrayed here by Ken Russell, either High Church or otherwise, wandering around dressed as if he'd just come from a "Barchester Chronicles" film set, and although Christie described his wife as "not at all like a vicar's wife", Francis de la Tour's interpretation also jars with the setting.

One of the main reasons that "whodunnits" are so popular, is that readers enjoy following the clues to reach the identity of the culprit before the "resident" sleuth. This is only possible if the clues are presented. The pivotal clue of Symmington's unfortunate maid is virtually hidden. (I know this story so well, and even I nearly missed it.) Perhaps I'm being a little picky, because as far as the series goes, this episode, and "A Murder is Announced", are the only two I've seen that wouldn't have poor Agatha spinning in her grave. However I still prefer the Joan Hickson version of this story, and that earlier series as a whole. I just cannot see Geraldine McEwan's somewhat brusque Jane Marple, as the one that the author envisaged. I'm sure Joan Hickson's more unobtrusive Jane Marple was. But if the mantle of the elderly sleuth must be borne, I suppose that Geraldine is as good a choice as could be made.

Has the message really got through to the scriptwriters at last, or is it that they've been advised from above to actually read the novels before adapting them? And/or deciding perhaps that Dame Agatha'a plots are fine just as she wrote them. One would hope this trend continues, but I still have my doubts about forthcoming productions. Time will tell.


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