"Agatha Christie's Marple" The Moving Finger (TV Episode 2006) Poster

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Better than expected
benbrae7628 August 2006
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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Pleasantly stunned
petehazell13 February 2006
This is definitely a rarity in ITV1's Marple series - it appears to have been adapted by someone who has not only read the novel, but also understood it.

There were minor changes made to the story, but they were nowhere near the wholesale destruction of plot and character visited upon other entries in the series, notably Sleeping Murder (rendered thoroughly nonsensical by the addition of the end of the pier show).

Geraldine McEwan was as good as ever, and the cast for this one seemed to be treating it relatively seriously, with the exception of Ken Russell, whose turn as the vicar proved that he's even worse as an actor than he is as a director.

The production suffered from the series' standard malaise of treating the characters as if they were all cardboard stereotypes, thus making it difficult for the audience to care for them, but most of the time the cast managed to rise above this and seem reasonably believable. If ITV1 can produce more of this standard, then a third series could be watchable - particularly if they adapt stories which actually feature Miss Marple, as opposed to what we've got coming in the next couple of weeks...
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Marvellous Marple!
Stargazer5916 February 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I half expected "Agatha Christie's Marple" to be a little on the stodgy side but "The Moving Finger" turned out to be great fun. This was partly due to the all-star cast but also the knowing screenplay by Kevin Elyot which contained many laugh-out-loud moments at the numerous in-jokes. Best of these sprung from Ken Russell's character, the Reverend Caleb Dane Calthrop, speaking out against fornication, in the knowledge that the director-turned-actor himself has built a career making movies on that selfsame subject, from "Women in Love" to "Mahler", "Lisztomania" to "Tommy"!

The preview I read called the casting of Ken, together with comedian Harry Enfield as the dastardly uptight solicitor Richard Symmington, dodgy thus missing the point that this production intended itself as self-mocking. From the opening shots of playboy and World War II veteran Jerry Burton, played by James D'Arcy, first on his motorcycle and then in a red sports car with sister Joanna, a red-headed Emilia Fox, so blatantly filmed as period parody in the style of the time against a back projection, the story always managed to entertain.

I missed Paul McGann in last week's opening episode but "Doctor Who" Jon Pertwee's son Sean was on hand this week as the rather nervous Dr. Owen Griffith and I believe "Doctor Who" companion Bonnie Langford appears in the next yarn as a pushy mother! The poison-pen letters in "The Moving Finger" turn out to be one enormous red herring which distract Inspector Graves, a superb turn from Keith Allen, into hilariously staking out the women's institute's typewriter! Credit must also be given to John Session's Cardew Pye, as gay as the name sounds, reminding me of Nickolas Grace's performance as stuttering Anthony Blanche in "Brideshead Revisited"!

Another interesting piece of casting was that of ex-"Big Breakfast" presenter Kelly Brook as governess Elsie Holland who gains a place in the affections of our hero Jerry before he realises he is in love with Megan Hunter, played to perfection by Talulah Riley fresh from her success as Mary Bennet in the recent movie version of "Pride and Prejudice". The ye-olde-worlde scenes of Lymstock, a typically idyllic-seeming English country village, were picture-postcard perfect and made me think I was still watching "The Avengers"!!! Highly recommended.
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A Marvelous Gallery of Grotesques
raymundohpl10 July 2006
I thought BY THE PRICKING OF MY THUMBS in this new Miss Marple series was good, but THE MOVING FINGER has presented a lineup of many pleasing and not-so-pleasing eccentrics and British grotesqueries. The famed director Ken Russell portrays a shambling vicar, the Rev. Calthrop, like a fugitive from one of his deliriously enjoyable films; his wife, Maud is portrayed by Frances de la Tour, the horsey and lugubrious actress who portrayed the gigantess Madame Olympe Maxime in HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE; Sean Pertwee, son of the late and great Jon Pertwee plays a nervous, mousy Dr. Griffith who is seduced by the hoydenish and blazing red-headed lorelei, Joanna Burton, played by Emilia Fox; the waspish and flagrantly gay Cardew Pye has an unexpected soft centre, courtesy of John Sessions; James D'Arcy plays Jerry Burton as a seemingly unsympathetic character who gradually begins to come out of his self-imposed protective shell as the story progresses. Geraldine McEwan seems to have put her stamp on the Jane Marple character by presenting her as somewhere between the indomitable Dame Margaret Rutherford's swashbuckling and sputtering Miss Marple and the icily restrained and too-perfectly-emotionless Joan Hickson's Miss Marple, which is generally seen as the portrayal closest to Dame Agatha Christie's original intent for the character. Mugging, smiling, very physically active, McEwan gives her Miss Marple a distinctive flair that may be an acquired taste, like rutabagas, to some of you viewers out there. The rest of the cast is more than adequate, and director Tom Shankland does an OK job pulling all the story threads together.
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Hardly one for the Christie traditionalists but gaudy, surprisingly lively and strangely entertaining
bob the moo2 April 2006
Having survived a motorcycle accident/suicide attempt with only two broken legs, Jerry Burton comes to the quiet village of Lymstock to recuperate in peace. However being introduced around the village Jerry and his sister Joanna quickly get to hear everyone's dirty secrets and benefit from the gossiping that comes with any afternoon tea. However this is just the superficial stuff because underneath most of the village is receiving poison pen letters. When Mrs Symmington, one of the village's residents, commits suicide as a result of one such letter, things become more serious and accusations are flying between everyone. Luckily the houseguest at the vicarage is none other than the unassuming Miss Marple (visiting following a suicide of an old acquaintance), who may be able to help cast some light on the situation.

Opening a backdrop that makes no attempt at reality, then flashing up a gaudy title cad followed by a sequence that is washed out apart from blood red colours a la Sin City I knew that this film was not going to have much in common with the old BBC Miss Marple series than I know. This was my first shot at the new ITV version of Miss Marple (or "Marple" as they have called it in a fit of modernism) and I wasn't sure quite what to expect once the first few minutes had thrown me off my stride. The mood did settle down after that but the tone was still very much of a lively modern mystery rather than the drier and more repressed drama from the BBC. I'm not sure this is an entirely welcome thing but it did at least make it more suitable for Sunday night viewing.

The plot follows Jerry as much as it does Miss Marple and it perhaps says more about my feelings towards McEwan than anything else but I felt this was quite a good thing. It also allows us (the audience) to encounter the clues at the same time as Jerry and not have to have them all put together there and then. This device worked reasonably well although I didn't think the mystery was developed that well. The nature of the telling is good though as it is entertaining, bright and lively. The direction and production helps because rather than being dry, everything is colourful and full, meanwhile the visual style is more adventurous than the earlier series would have suggested possible.

The cast continues this "big and bold" theme by basically having loads of famous names in it – from main characters right down to lesser roles. Personally I'm not sure about McEwan as Miss Marple; she doesn't suit the role and she doesn't convince me that she is that smart or cunning in the way Hickson did, although she is still good value. D'Arcy is fairly good as the main leading actor, he is quite interesting and doesn't push to steal the film from anyone else. The support cast are heaving at the sides and demonstrates such eclectic casting that I couldn't help but be taken in. The material seems to have been evenly spread which means no one person stands out that much. Allen is fun in a simple "bumbling detective" style role, while Enfield, Brook, Fox, Stubbs, Sessions, Russell, de la Tour and others easily fill out the film with plenty of good turns.

A strangely modern Marple then but quite enjoyable at that. The narrative is solid enough and produces a reasonably good mystery to work with but it is the cast and the generally lively production that sticks in the memory and makes this better than it should have been. I struggled with McEwan because Marple has always been a bit drier in my mind but I must admit that this glossy production was hard to dislike for what it did.
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Marple series with Geraldine McEwan
blanche-216 June 2010
I'm new to this Australian series of Miss Marple mysteries, and it's been years since I read any Miss Marple.

The last McEwan Marple I saw, I found her too "knowing" as Marple. Marple's crime-solving chops come from years of observation in her village of St. Mary Mead. She's not sophisticated, and she's not "sharp" as a police detective would be. She's homespun. This time around, with the emphasis off of Marple and onto war veteran Jerry Burton who is trying to solve the mystery of the poison pen letters, we have a closer version of Christie's Miss Marple.

This particular story stayed faithful to the book, and the production values are quite opulent. Ken Russell, who directed, gives an outrageous performance as the vicar, and there is nice work from James D'Arcy, Emilia Fox as his sister, Kelly Brook as a nanny to whom Jerry is attracted, and Talulah Riley as Megan. Great to see Imogen Stubbs, whom I enjoyed so much in "Anna Lee."
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A mixed bag
pawebster17 February 2006
This was a bit better than most of the ITV Marples so far. The story was coherent and the village setting at Chilham in Kent was charming. James D'Arcy and Emilia Fox were good. They seemed to take their parts seriously - a thing sadly not to be taken for granted in this series.

As usual, however, the producers had to try to muck all it up with weird features and freakish performances.

The 'aren't we clever by being retro' back projection does not come off - it is just naff.

Harry Enfield's performance is a bit like his old stiff-upper-lip-in-old-British-films caricatures - unfortunately. Keith Allen's character is a feeble joke, and Ken Russell is off the scale of pointless nuttiness - and dressed in an outfit left over from some old Victorian melodrama.

Yet again, in another misguided feature of this series, the Mr Pye character isn't allowed just to seem precious and affected, but has to make an explicit speech on gay rights. Yes, really, in an Agatha Christie story set in the early 1950s -- hard as it may be to believe for those who haven't seen it.

On a general note: I've noticed in these films that there tends to be a mix of actors who are taking the proceedings seriously (usually lesser names) and others (well-known names) who just seem to be having a cheap laugh or slumming to make a quick few quid.

The biggest flaw of the series is its lack of respect for Agatha Christie. The makers appear to look down on her stories as low-grade pap that can be used or abused at their whim. Christie and Marple come in handy as famous names to market the films, and the books are a quarry for bits of material that can be bent to fit their own agenda.

Sad, really.
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Miss Marple does it again
lonedragon142229 July 2006
This was a terrific movie. I watched it on PBS, and I had to wait a week for the last hour. It is the only time in my life where I've bitten my nails all week about a two parter episode to a show. It had the perfect blend of mystery, while also giving you a feeling that you were learning something about the characters.

The acting was superb, and I felt as if the story really was unfolding right before my eyes. They cast really well, from the gossipy Mrs. Symmington, to Talulah Riley as Megan, and then of course, Geraldine McEwan as Miss Marple herself. She will always be my favorite Miss Marple, and there have been several.

The best part of The Moving Finger, is that the ending was so completely unexpected. My hats off to Miss Marple.
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Absolutely AMAZING!
tml_pohlak_1319 September 2007
After being "ripped off" on "SLEEPING MURDER" where the storyline was completely different than the book, I made a firm resolution to read the book FIRST and watch the movie later. I absolutely loved this great adaptation. The biggest difference was an added suicide and changing Mrs. Holland's personality a bit. And Jerry Burton was made a drunken sex maniac. Other than that this movie was a beautiful adaptation of the original. I absolutely recommend this movie for anyone, regardless whether you read the book or not. This is truly one of the best adaptations of the series. Now, I have to watch "BY THE PRICKING OF MY THUMBS" and "THE SITTAFORD MYSTERY". Then I will form a full impression of this series.
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So far, one of McEwan's best episodes
shanty_sleuth24 February 2006
Warning: Spoilers
OK, so there were a few minor things with lighting, and the back-projection of the driving scenes were a bit odd, but all in all this is an excellent Miss Marple starring Geraldine McEwan. Harry Enfield was a magnificent portrayal of the uptight solicitor Richard Symmington, and Imogen Stubbs was a great gossipy, snobbish Mona Symmington. Ken Russell scared me (I have to admit) as Reverand Caleb Dane Calthrop, and I can't believe Frances De La Tour was cast as his wife, Maude (she looked as ugly as a gargoyle)! James D'Arcy was a good Jerry Burton, and Emilia Fox as Joanna Burton was good.

I thoroughly enjoyed this episode, and it's on my Top 3 list along with "A Murder is Announced" and "The Murder at the Vicarage." This adaptation isn't as good as Hickson's version, but still very enjoyable. I recommend that you see it, for I know you will enjoy it!
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One of the better ITV versions
dis-613 February 2006
Warning: Spoilers
After the travesty of Sleeping Murder, I feared how ITV could wreck Moving Finger but they actually did a good job with this one. Yes they did change a few things like the makeover of Megan but overall the cast and script were faithful to the Christie story !

Of the cast special mention should be made of Sean Pertwee as the doctor, Keith Allen as the detective and Harry Enfield as the repressed solicitor Symmington. But the real delight was in the well known names and faces in tight effective cameos like John Sessions as Mr Pye, Ken Russell as the vicar ! and Frances Der la Tour as Mrs Calthrop.

This still isn't as good as the Hickson version but its nearly its equal. Excellent job all round!
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All mood noise/music and little content!!
horus-research16 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Has no one noticed that the mood music (I use the term VERY loosely) is OTT to set the mood that has no follow through with the dialog, the setting, the lighting, the costumes, or any other part of this production? This is a 2-part presentation with only a 1-part content. And the production has little to do with Christie's ability to set village life through dialog. The speeches are overblown and mean. I cannot remember Christie making that part of the mystery theme or emotion. While the story pretends to be post-WWII, all the staging is far too bright and new. Since rationing in UK did not go away until 1955, where did that bright red wig come from? The lighting gives a mood only when the background music/noise wants us to notice that the evil that comes forth and we must strain to make out the scene. I am quite put off by the entire piece. McEwen is not Marple. Christie made certain that if one was not to be noticed, while noticing everything, one did not march up to another 'one' and present oneself and make ferfluffle comments that are strained and reedy. Even the knitting did not look strained and "present." It always was contained within the lap and hands of the knitter. Where is the subtlety? Obviously, this production was meant to bring modernity into the fore. It does that. Unfortunately, that is not enough to make it 'happen.'
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A Great Marple Mystery
triumph_of_the_bugle2 April 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Agatha Christie has always been one of my favourite authors, and this fabulous mystery really does her magnificent story lines justice. This season of Marple has had two very large mistakes, bringing Miss Marple into stories where she doesn't belong (dispite the fact there are plenty of original stories for them to film) and also changing the murderer in 'The Sittaford Mystery'. This mystery includes a wonderful cast, and, I'm pleased to say Miss Marple doesn't seem to be the main character. James D'Arcy is wonderful, and Frances de la Tour never ceases to amaze. Gripping and enjoyable, though I feel Agatha let us down with the murderer's identity. He was very boring, and not at all someone lively and unexpected. The naughty notes were fun, and Emilia Fox yet again put on a marvellous performance- despite the strange red hair.

Wonderful, I recommend it for everyone who's ever felt alone and for anyone that wants proof as to that fact English village life isn't boring. (only, it's not really proof as the whole story is fictional)
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Engaging mystery with a nice romantic angle
grantss2 July 2016
Jerry Burton is badly injured after a motorcycle accident. To aid his convalescence he and his sister spend some time in the small English village of Lymstock. Unfortunately for them they have walked into a rather unpleasant situation. Someone in the village is writing hate mail to local inhabitants, calling them names and accusing them of all manner of things. It appears this has already lead to one local, a retired Army Colonel, killing themselves. Another, Mona Symmington, also dies, leaving a suicide note. The police are now taking the case seriously, with Inspector Graves on the case. Miss Marple is also on the scene, but it is Jerry Burton who is doing most of the investigating. For more personal purposes, he has his eye on the beautiful nanny to the Symmington's children, Elsie Holland. Mr Symmington's step-daughter, Megan Hunter, is another distraction.

Interesting mystery with some very interesting and engaging sub- plots. The Jerry Burton-Elsie Holland-Megan Hunter romantic angle was quite interesting and played out nicely in the end.

If anything, this episode shows the difference between the Poirot series and the Miss Marple series. In the Poirot series, Poirot was undeniably the central character. With his eccentricities he was colourful and larger-than-life. He was in almost every scene in that series.

In the Miss Marple series, she tends to not be the central character. Yes, she ultimately always solves the case but her character is too bland to carry an episode from start to finish. So we have another, more interesting, character be the central character. In this case it is Jerry Burton (played by James D'Arcy).

D'Arcy does a fine job as Burton. Cast also includes Harry Enfield. Kelly Brook plays Elsie Holland, and it's always good to see her (!). She has some good competition, on screen and in the looks stakes, from Talulah Riley, as Megan Hunter.
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If you liked the Joan Hickson versions turn away now
JammyBux13 February 2006
I always thought my wife was a bit OTT in liking the Joan Hickson versions of Miss Marple, up until now the Geraldine McEwan versions have been OK but nothing specially.

After last nights episode we both agreed that what we saw was utter drivel.

Not a patch on the original, the choice of actors was a bit dubious.

Come on ITV you can make some great Crime Dramas (Midsummer Murders, Poirot). This however is not one of them.

Avoid at all costs

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"Pretentious Christie mystery."
jamesraeburn200313 February 2006
Warning: Spoilers
In the picturesque village of Lymstock, someone is sending the villagers poisoned pen letters accusing them of illicit sexual behaviour. Recepitents include the village GP Dr Owen Griffith (Sean Pertwee) whom is accused of interfering with one of his patients and Joanna and Jerry Barton (Emilia Fox and James D' Arcy), who have only just arrived in the village as Jerry is recovering from a motorcycle crash, alleging that they are not brother and sister. Meanwhile, two of the receivers have taken their own lives. They are Colonel Appleton whom shot himself after the letter accused him of being unfaithful to his dead wife by having affairs with several woman and Mona Symmington (Imogen Stubbs) whom took cyanide after her letter stated that her son wasn't fathered by her husband Richard Symmington (Harry Enfield). Did these people crack and commit suicide as a result of these letters or is there a cunning murder plot afoot. Luckily, the vicar Cardew Pye's (John Sessions) house guest is Miss Marple (Geraldine McEwen) who sets out to investigate the bizarre goings on and she is aided by Jerry Barton who also turns detective to unravel the mystery.

Pretentious adaptation of Christie whodunit, which had been much better filmed in 1987 as part of the BBC's celebrated series starring Joan Hickson as Miss Marple. The script is fairly competent but the direction is pretentious and the cinematography has more the air of a pop video rather than whodunit and fails to capture the sense of menace or the fifties period setting with any conviction. Suspense is lacking throughout and the cast is loaded with stars who are largely unsuited to play Christie's characters with the exceptions of Harry Enfield (in a rare dramatic role) as the arrogant and well-to-do Richard Symmington and James D' Arcy is quite good as Jerry Barton. McEwen is uncomfortably cast as Miss Marple and too little is seen of her in this one as Jerry Barton does most of the sleuthing and the film is narrated from his point of view. All in all, The Moving Finger is another disappointing addition to what has largely been a disappointing series.
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By far one of the better ITV Marple adaptations
TheLittleSongbird12 February 2010
As far as this series has gone, I liked "Murder is Announced", "Murder at the Vicarage" and in some ways "4.50 From Paddington" but was disappointed in "Sleeping Murder", "Nemesis", "Body in the Library" and especially "Sittaford Mystery". While not 100% perfect, "Moving Finger" is by far one of the better ITV Marple adaptations. While taking a few minor liberties, it does respect the book somewhat, and manages to be absorbing in terms of plot and stylish in terms of production values, as they were really delightful here. The acting is very, very good, Harry Enfield overdoes it just a tad as Symmington and I didn't care for Ken Russell very much as the vicar, but Frances DeLa Tour, Talullah Riley, Imogen Stubbs, Keith Allen and John Sessions all turn in solid work. Geraldine McEwan does give one of her better performances as Miss Marple, and as Joanna and Jerry Emilia Fox and James D'Arcy are appealing enough. The direction was decent and the pace is nice and skippy, but if I had any other complaints other than the occasional overacting of one or two members of the cast, the writers could have developed the script a tad. Other than that, this is a surprisingly good adaptation. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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such a disappointment!
Savy6 July 2011
I have only thought once in the entire 90 minutes of the film that a scene out of the book was in it - and even then it wasn't REALLY the way it was written by Christie. Needless to say, I didn't like it. One watches the movie to a book to find the story depicted by actors the way it was written, or at the very least CLOSELY to what was written. The screenplay for this movie is rubbish. Someone watching the movie without having read the book would get an ENTIRELY different idea about what happened! Granted it's supposed to be an adaptation, but for god's sake, if there was ever a book that was written so you could take only the scenes it describes (maybe leave some out, but definitely not create new ones) it was this book, but I guess it's not flashy enough! Very, very sad - the book is so good, you could make such a good movie with/from it... I didn't think the previous movie ('85) could compare much to the book. It still can't, but if I had to choose between watching this adaptation and the one from '85, I would take the one from '85 any time. No dice.

The characters are messed up, the storyline is messed up, the relations between certain characters (Owen and Joanna, cough) - the only good thing I have to say about this movie, is that D'Arcy, Riley and the actress playing Aimée Griffith did a pretty good job. They resembled their original characters the most (in D'Arcy's case with a few minor *literal* hick-ups due to the screenplay) and gave me the feeling of the book at least a little bit. Though Aimée did not look at all as I pictured her - but that is entirely my imagination anyways.
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Nearly spot on
Iain-2155 April 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I enjoyed this very much on a first viewing. Then I re-read the book and watched again with renewed respect because it really is a very faithful adaptation and much of the characterisation is spot on - more so I'm afraid to say than the Hickson version. Caleb Dane Caltrop is a creature who seems to exist on another plane, frequently spouting Latin and sometimes making the most dazzlingly accurate observation...that is exactly what we get from Ken Russell. His wife is a determined, enigmatic and slightly frightening woman...that is what Frances de la Tour gives us. Aimee Griffith is a jolly, overbearing, gossipy and opinionated woman which is just how Jessica Stevenson portrays her and - finally - Joanna Burton is a bright, modern, exotic girl who brings a dash of colour and life into Lymstock and Emilia Fox does this perfectly.

There is a great deal of mischievous humour in this book and it is reflected in this adaptation. It is true that Mr Pye should not be so extravagantly gay given the period setting but his nature is well hinted at in the book. My only slight reservations were in the portrayals of the Symmington household. I felt Harry Enfield was quite weak, Elsie Holland should not really be a seductress despite her goddess looks, Mona Symmington should probably be rather more pathetic than Stubbs' virago and Megan was just a bit too knowing and moved too quickly from childish lump to Audrey Hepburn (as someone else described it).

As always, this series looks terrific. 'Moving Finger' is even brighter and brasher than other instalments but I don't mind that at all as a contrast to the older, grainy Hickson versions. The linking motifs of the 'letters through the box' and the funerals were great. Overall, a really good entry in this series and easily the best in Season 2.
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Surprisingly good
pwme4 August 2017
Warning: Spoilers
This is probably the best done remake of this particular series with this Miss Marple. It was nicely done with sympathetic characters and finally Miss Marple seemed more like Miss Marple instead of a spoof of her.

It was not too terribly different from the classic version with Joan Hickson, although I did not like how pathetic they made Gerry.

Very viewable.
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As good as can be expected
mody-138-50226720 August 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I have read All the Christie books and seen quite a few movies One of the worst case of a director messing with the original story seems to be "Sittaford mystery" .

I found "Moving Finger" to be more or less faithful to the original story. But I do think I have found a big goof-up here. On the day Mrs Symmington dies, the governess is shown to pick up some letters which have arrived just then and put them on a tray in the hall and the next shot is that of the empty tray which seems to imply that Mrs Symmington has picked up and read the letters. But here there is a major contradiction. The house maid is murdered because she saw that no postman or anyone else delivered any letters that day and she was confused because she knew that Mrs Symmington was supposed to have received a poison-pen letter that day .So how to reconcile this with the scene mentioned in the previous para where some letters are seen to be received that day and the governess picking them up at the doorstep.

I believe this is a goof up in the movie.
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Energetic adaptation with some odd character choices
spottedreptile25 March 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I enjoyed this adaptation of The Moving Finger, and I thought Miss Marple's increased role in the story was well done. The plot moved forward with conviction, but there were some odd changes in character from the book which didn't add to the overall enjoyment. Ken Russell was amusing as Caleb Calthrop; I loved Emilia Fox's Joanna and Imogen Stubbs made a suitably awful Mrs. Symmington. But why Owen Griffith was reduced to a bumbling tongue-tied idiot was beyond me; if I were Joanna I would never have given him a second glance. And Elsie Holland as a scheming seductress was just silly. James D'Arcy was good, though and Tallulah Riley's Megan sensitive and interesting. Overall a good and watchable adaptation. I'm glad they tidied up the bit about the Burton/Barton typo on the envelope; Agatha Christie never went far enough with it.
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Slick, stylish and bang up to date
Paul Evans5 October 2015
Warning: Spoilers
A very faithful adaptation with only minor changes. The Moving Finger is one of my favourite Christie novels, there is no much spite in it, it's quite a nasty story, that spite is brilliantly realised here.

Once again idyllic village life is shown, bright skies, everyone smiling, beautiful country life, but underneath the veneers are the poison pen letters, and then a murder.

As usual it looks rather wonderful, the settings are glorious. The fashions and clothes are spot on, Emilia Fox gets to don some stunning outfits, you can see she enjoyed the production. Some really smart and slick dialogue, some of the chat is brilliant. The filming too is really slick, it's very interesting to watch. I also like how James D'Arcy part narrates it. The music is always appropriate it builds the tension.

Some interesting casting, we'll start with the unusual choices, Ken Russell, a rather surprising choice to play a man of the cloth, I would have said a better choice could have been made. Kelly Brook, shows that she can act, that she's not just there to look heavenly (which of course she does!)

As for the more traditional casting, I think the episode is stolen by Harry Enfield, known more as a man of comedy I thought he was excellent. I loved Emilia Fox, Frances de la Tour and of course Geraldine too, she's a brilliant Jane Marple.
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tedg3 November 2007
I liked this production a lot. And that's in spite of it being one of Christie's lesser works. She usually plays one big game per story, some fundamental innovation in the form. This time, its the removal of Marple as the primary detective. Usually the form is we have Marple, who we follow. She's the detective and there is a second, "official" detective in the mix, usually no more than background noise.

In this case, we have a troubled war veteran, suicidal. Its him we follow, as he deduces and discovers, and part of what he watches is what Marple is up to. By this time in Marple's career, the charm had gone out of the series, so far as reliance on the primary character. So we have here the two body problem of the two amateur detectives, the three body problem adding in the police, and the many-body situation since everyone in the village is hunting for the note-writer.

Oh. The guy who's our detective? Two years previously he played a shockingly modernized Sherlock Holmes!

And we have three attractive women circling around our hero: his quirky sister (here the designated redhead), a sexy earth mother, and an innocent waif (who in the final, transformative scene is lit so her hair is red).

So the story is structured less around episodes and more around observation than usual. That's why this adaptation works so well. Viewers seem to get upset when the plot is adjusted in the translation from word to image. So they like this one because in that respect it "follows the book." I guess they missed that it radically changes the narrative stance — the most important part in detective fiction. Oh well, I suppose there are bigger blind spots in the world.

What the filmmaker has done here is shoot visions at us with relentless speed. We have long sequences with less than a second to two second shots. Sometimes they do jump briefly to perspectives that would normally be called "arty" but in this case it constructs a many-eyed world. Its darn effective, and shows some understanding of what detective fiction and film is all about. Its too good for TeeVee, at least this one is.

One small touch that I liked was the way the notes were handled. These were letters (presented to us as images) constructed by taking letters out of books. Its an incidental thing in the book, but in this film — which does select the big letters to paste together for us — it matters, a sort of side annotation, a tiny meta-narrative. These books are the ancient texts that seem to be the focus of the vicar, who is an obvious red herring as he wears gloves and is reflexively judgemental.

He's played by by Ken Russell, and that alone is the biggest hoot of my moviewatching week. Watch "Lair of the White Worm" and then this to see what I mean.

Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
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Lymstock is not as quiet as it seems!
gridoon20188 July 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Beautifully directed, photographed and costumed, "The Moving Finger" captures both the light, sunny and the dark, grimy side of English village life. The genius of Agatha Christie in this particular story is that it reverses some common gender and geographical stereotypes; it also introduces us to a variety of fun characters, brought to life by a near-perfect cast (John Sessions is downright hilarious at times as the flamboyant Mr. Pye). This series has had no shortage of female beauties so far (Mary Stockley, Amanda Holden, Sienna Guillory, Sophia Myles, etc.), but the angelic Kelly Brook may just top them all. In fact, her casting is like a double-edged sword; it makes certain character motivations very believable, but it also makes certain character choices very un-believable (I'm being vague here to avoid heavy spoilers). The only directorial choice that I think is more of a distraction than a benefit to the film is the intentionally (I assume) very fake "back projection" in the driving scenes, but thankfully these only happen briefly at the start and the end of the film. Otherwise, one of the better entries so far. *** out of 4.
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