Miss Marple's friend - a Catholic priest - is battered to death after visiting a woman dying under strange circumstances. Seeking justice, she becomes entangled in a nefarious organization centered around an inn run by purported witches.
Miss Marple is shocked when she receives a note from an old friend,Father Gorman only to read in the newspaper the very same day that he was murdered. He had attended a dying woman, Mrs. Davis, who died the previous evening and it was while he was on his way home that he was apparently attacked. The police have put it down to a mugging but the letter Miss Marple received from him intrigues her: a list of surnames and a quote from the bible. The policeman in charge of the case, Inspector Lejeune is skeptical about it all being a murder but when Miss Marple inspects Mrs. Davis' rooms, she finds an identical list to that sent to her by Father Gorman and also a reference to the Pale Horse Inn in Much Deeping, Hampshire. She soon checks into the inn and pursues her own investigation. Written by
If you look closely at the names of the crew in the closing credits (after the cast of characters), you will see certain names have a red letter in them. The letters spell out GOODY CARNE, the name of the "witch" in the execution reenactment scene. See more »
August, qu'est-ce que tu bois? Shaw, Harmondsworth. God forgive me! Wickedness!
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A muddled mystery inserts Jane Marple into the proceedings...
While not a total disaster, THE PALE HORSE leaves a lot to be desired in the way of a coherent plot that gives us a Miss Marple who wraps everything up very tidily without giving the viewer any idea of how she gets her clues. Indeed, her explanation for the killer's rationale is a textbook study in psychoanalysis as well as a Sherlock Holmes display of knowledge she couldn't possibly have given the dearth of clues.
JULIA McKENZIE, however, does a nice job, settling into her role as Miss Marple with professional poise and ease. And making a strong impression is JONATHAN CAKE as Mark Eastebrook, a character I understand is given much more prominence in the original story. The others do well in supporting roles and there's some juicy atmosphere throughout with costumes and settings doing nicely to sustain the mood of the piece. The supernatural witchery seems more like a red herring thrown in for whatever value it adds to the story about shady goings-on at an inn called "The Pale Horse." The basic plot outline is close to the Agatha Christie original, but as usual the writers have made changes that will upset purists.
The drawback here is that Miss Marple seems to possess detailed information about the criminal that is mind-boggling considering how scarce the clues actually are. Miss Christie never convinces us that Miss Marple could possibly have detected the killer in a back story with so many fabrications.
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