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The book is not Agatha Christie's best, but it was very good and
interesting. Likewise with the Joan Hickson adaptation, and the Angela
Lansbury film was flawed but enjoyable. When I heard about this
version, I was curious in both a good and bad way. Part of me was
looking forward to it, seeing as how superb The Blue Geranium was,
something that felt like Agatha Christie and had a great tone to it
that was missing I think. But part of me was worried, I was hoping it
wouldn't be another Sittaford Mystery or At Bertram's Hotel, in short
an adaptation that not only was a complete disrespect in detail and
spirit to the Queen of Crime but also on its own terms.
After seeing it, I needn't have worried. The Mirror Crack'd From Side to Side is one of the better entries of the series, and I also think it is the best adaptation of the book. In fact it is almost perfect, though I think the second murder could have been more drawn out than it was and the story of the photographer could have done with more development.
That said, the adaptation succeeds as an adaptation. The story is wonderful and compelling. Also, it felt like Agatha Christie, the tone was tense when it needed to be, the memorable characters were there and just as interesting and her style was there. While there are some changes, the backbone is still intact, in fact in comparison this is one of the more faithful Marple adaptations. The script does do justice to the book, there are the red herrings and the charming and witty dialogue that makes her work furthermore engrossing.
The adaptation also succeeds on its own terms. The pacing is bright and breezy, while the final scene is quite poignant. The production values are superb, I loved everything about how the adaptation looked, from the way it was shot to the house itself. The music is lovely, some of it is beautiful(the final scene) while some of it is intense and haunting(the scene on the film set about half way through). As always, the cast are impeccable, Julia McKenzie is terrific while Joanna Lumley seems to be thoroughly enjoying herself. Hugh Bonneville at the moment seems to be one of the busiest men on television, and he is interesting, and Nigel Harmon is a nice addition. I also loved Caroline Quentin here, her character is tiresome but Quentin is great, plus this is the best developed Heather Badcock I've seen. The real revelation though is Lindsay Duncan as Marina, she is brilliant and by far and large the best Marina Gregg I know of. Not only in the delivery of the lines, the voice and the gestures but especially her look of what seemed like a combination of guilt and sadness.
All in all, a wonderful adaptation and one of the best. 9/10 Bethany Cox
I haven't been a fan of the new Miss Marple series that began with
Geraldine McEwan as the lady sleuth, but this time--with JULIA McKENZIE
as the inquisitive old lady, readers of the book should be pleased to
know that it follows the original story fairly well. The plot itself is
not as gimmicky as some of the other Christie stories and is easy to
follow. An alert viewer will realize what's going on from the start,
since the incident surrounding the death of movie fan Heather Badcock
was based on the true-life case of movie star Gene Tierney's situation
involving a fan who got out of her sickbed to greet the actress. From
that incident, Miss Christie drew her inspiration for writing this
murder mystery centering around the tragic result based on a casual
As Marina Gregg, the temperamental Hollywood star, LINDSAY DUNCAN does a fine job and her handsome young husband is played well by NIGEL HARMAN. Others in the supporting cast are all proficient and well cast in their respective roles.
The solution is one you can spot coming if you know the background story of the Gene Tierney incident. One of the better Agatha Christie tales to be transposed to the screen, it's interesting from start to finish with never a dull spot or lagging moment.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is the third screen version of a rather peculiar Agatha Christie tale - peculiar because it's really more of a tragedy than a whodunit. If you haven't seen either of the previous two (1980 with Lansbury, 1992 with Hickson), you will probably enjoy this latest one more than I did; it's very well-made, with grand production values and a terrific cast, but it doesn't really bring much that's new to the table, apart maybe from the director-husband knowing, or at least suspecting, what has been going on all along. In comparison to the 1980 version, story-wise, this one gets a point for explaining who the photographer at the party is (which the older version never bothered to do), but loses a point for not showing to the audience until the very end the picture that Marina was looking at when she "froze" (the 1980 film played fairer in that respect). As I mentioned before, the cast is terrific; Joanna Lumley returns as Dolly Bantry after "The Body In The Library" and she is just as delightful, Lindsay Duncan is excellent as the neurotic Marina, and Hannah Waddingham is ideally cast as the sexbomb Lola - she has a truly amazing body <- I wish more women looked like that! *** out of 4.
Miss Marple is thrilled when one of her favourite movie stars, Marina
Gregg, and her husband, director Jason Rudd, move to her village of St
Mary Mead. Ms Gregg and her husband throw a housewarming party and,
unfortunately, Miss Marple is injured shortly beforehand, so can't
attend. The party turns out to be very eventful as one of the guests,
Heather Badcock, dies of an overdose of anti-depressants in her
cocktail. Ms Gregg suspects the poison was meant for her, a fear which
is justified when her coffee is poisoned on a film set. The police,
aided by Miss Marple, investigate.
The best of the Miss Marple series. Very intriguing mystery, quite plausible in its back story, and quite simple in its implementation. For once it's about the characters and everyday human motives, rather than a fantastical, long-winded story.
Miss Marple is less bland than usual but the episode is aided and abetted considerably by the presence of Joanna Lumley as Marple's friend Dolly Bantry. She gives the episode a great deal of colour.
A showing of a recent version of the film "Marie Antoinette," directed
by Jason Rudd (Nigel Harman), and starring Marina Gregg (Lindsay
Duncan) with Marie Thérèse (Isabella Parriss) and Louis Charles (Gene
Goodman) as her children, preceding a "British Cinematone News" reel,
announcing that famous actress Marina Gregg and her (fifth) husband,
Director Jason Rudd, have purchased an estate in St. Mary Mead.
House lights activate to guide the audience along the aisles, while Miss Jane Marple (Julia McKenzie, in her fifth turn in the role) and neighbor Dolly Bantry (Joanna Lumley) enter the lobby to discuss the report that these two celebrities (Marina and Jason, who have met on the set of "Marie Antoinette" and have since married) plan to relocate to their community, and to Goston Hall, which Dolly has owned with late husband, Arthur.
Marina Gregg and young groom, Jason Rudd, indeed, arrive to welcome neighbors Dolly and Miss Marple for tea, but Miss Marple turns her ankle and becomes advised by Doctor Haydock (Neil Stuke) not to attend Marina and Jason's garden party for charity, to which she and Dolly have been invited.
Cherry Baker (Olivia Darnley) tends to Miss Marple's care and socializes with Primrose Dixon (Lois Jones), an employee of Marina and Jason's, who serves as a maid at their gathering, and reports information to Miss Marple through a curious Cherry.
Doctor Haydock attends the reception, meeting hosts and their employees and guests who are welcomed upstairs. Employees include Ella Blunt (Victoria Smurfit), Jason Rudd's Secretary, and Hailey Preston (Brennan Brown), Marina's Personal Assistant.
Guests include Counselor and Mrs. Hubbard (Michele Dotrice) and Heather Badcock (Caroline Quentin), Secretary of Association (who has assisted Jane Marple in her recovery), and Dolly Bantry, who snoops around her former residence with Mrs. Hubbard.
Margot Bence (Charlotte Riley) sneaks into the gathering to photograph the event and is spotted around corners and staircases with her active camera. She operates a studio, which Dolly and Miss Marple patronize when additional snooping call a bit later on.
Vincent Hogg (Martin Jarvis), entertainment columnist arrives with Lola Brewster (Hannah Waddingham) to crash the reception. Vincent has been one of Marina's former husbands, while Lola has been involved with Jason in the past.
But when a victim passes out and perishes after consuming narcotic-laced alcohol, Scotland Yard Inspector Hewitt (Hugh Bonneville) and Sergeant Tiddler (Samuel Barnett) arrive to investigate this overdose of anti-depressants and consider the possibility of murder, which seems to have been intended for a different victim.
As the authorities visit Miss Marple, who has been learning of various accounts of events transpiring at the manor, she, also, begins to conclude various scenarios, as Marina prepares for her next role as "Queen Nefertiti," under Jason's direction, opposite Gay actor Casey Croft (Will Young), about whom Marina complains for touching her. Maisie Cooper (Anna Anderson) participates in the second film play-within-a-play in a supporting role.
Along with Jason and his employees Ella Blunt, Primrose Dixon and Hailey Preston on hand at the studio, as well as the visiting Lola Brewster, Vincent Hogg, Margot Bence, Dolly Bantry and Miss Marple herself, many observe a temperamental Marina's reacting harshly to a substance which has been slipped into her coffee server.
But back at the scene of the first crime, a second body is discovered, as a result of cyanide poisoning.
And now, as Inspector Hewitt and Sergeant Tiddler continue to question witnesses and possible suspects, Agatha Christie's Miss Jane Marple attempts to solve the murders from a distance, after hearing first-hand accounts, and her re-thinking of a clue from "The Lady of Shilot," involving the line, "The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side."
Has any of this to do with adoptive children Margot and Angus, or handicapped birth son, Bobby? Will an injured Miss Marple be able to confront her suspect before a possible third murder transpires?
The cast is rounded out by Julie Salter as Banquet Guest, Jonathan Coyne as French Officer, Simon John Wilson as Press Reporter, Don Gallagher as Man in Livery, and Darren Petrucci in an unidentified role (possibly as ring-leader in the "Marie Antoinette" segment).
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