"Agatha Christie's Marple: The Moving Finger (#2.2)"
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Reviews & Ratings for
"Agatha Christie's Marple" The Moving Finger (2006)

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19 out of 27 people found the following review useful:

Better than expected

Author: benbrae76
28 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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18 out of 26 people found the following review useful:

Pleasantly stunned

Author: petehazell from United Kingdom
13 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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11 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Marvellous Marple!

Author: Stargazer59 from United Kingdom
16 February 2006

*** This review may contain 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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8 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

A Marvelous Gallery of Grotesques

Author: raymundohpl from Honolulu, Hawaii
10 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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11 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

Hardly one for the Christie traditionalists but gaudy, surprisingly lively and strangely entertaining

Author: bob the moo from United Kingdom
2 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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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Marple series with Geraldine McEwan

Author: blanche-2 from United States
16 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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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Engaging mystery with a nice romantic angle

Author: grantss from Sydney, Australia
2 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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6 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Absolutely AMAZING!

Author: tml_pohlak_13 from Canada
19 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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8 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Miss Marple does it again

Author: lonedragon1422 from United States
29 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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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Slick, stylish and bang up to date

Author: Paul Evans from Swansea, United Kingdom
5 October 2015

*** This review may contain 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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