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Trying to find how a millionaire wound up with a phony diamond brings Hercule Poirot (Sir Peter Ustinov) to an exclusive island resort frequented by the rich and famous. When a murder is committed, everyone has an alibi.
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Miss Marple investigates the murder of one of her fellow trustees of a fund which rehabilitates young criminals. To investigate she goes aboard the ship used to train the juveniles, much to the distress of the Captain. She soon stumbles onto more murders, and a ring of thieves.Written by
The screenplay was not based on any published Agatha Christie story. It did, however, borrow a few obscure plot details from "They Do It With Mirrors" and there is a delightful moment when Miss Marple pays homage to Christie's long-running play, "The Mousetrap." See more »
At the beginning of the movie, one of the trustees gets poisoned with strychnine in his snuff. In real life the dose of strychnine required to kill someone is much too large to be contained in a pinch of snuff--the LD50 is 16 mg/kg, so, in order to kill an average person (70 kg) the murderer would have to administer more than a gram of strychnine; close to two grams to be sure. In the past, strychnine was used as a recreational drug and an athletic performance enhancer! Also, death by strychnine overdose is not instantaneous as shown in the movie; it's caused by a series of convulsions of increasing severity until the victim is unable to breathe. A slow, lingering death, very nasty. See more »
[Last line of the movie]
You know, the moment I clapped eyes on her, I said to myself: "What an old darling!"
Matron Alice Fanbraid:
[Remembering his actual first response to Miss Marple's first appearance, raises her eyebrows archly]
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The mystery isn't great but the cast are good and the film is lively and good fun
Whilst visiting the monthly meeting of a naval trust set up long ago one of her relatives, Miss Marple is surprised by the rudeness of Follie Hardwick who demands to speak outside of the agenda. Hardwick insists that his news will drop the rest of the agenda as irrelevant and, taking a pinch of snuff, he stands to speak. Seconds later he is dead from a heart attack and the police are called. Marple notices later that someone has stolen the dead man's snuff, but left the snuffbox. Believing the death was murder by way of poisoned snuff, Miss Marple insists on investigating, much to the chagrin of Detective Inspector Craddock.
For many viewers, myself included, this is not really a Miss Marple film as we think of it. For most of us this should be a film with Joan Hickson that is very slow and very English, however this is not to say that the Rutherford versions are not any good because they are actually pretty enjoyable. Less of a Miss Marple film, this is more a Margaret Rutherford film because she does her usual performance of huff, puff and sheer bloody-minded persistence. The plot is written around this well and is lively and fun with a surprise amount of comedy for a mystery film. The actual development of the case is not that strong but the whole thing is entertaining enough to avoid having to rely too heavily on just this aspect.
The cast make it work as well as it does. Rutherford could be accused of doing what comes naturally but so what if it works? Real life partner Stringer Davis is good value as always in his small role as is Tingwell in the typically cynical Detective Inspector. The crew of the ship are great fun; Jeffries is nearly always funny and he is well supported by Nimmo, Parsons, Mervyn and Benham. Nobody is brilliant and the film belongs to Rutherford, but the presence of some great comedians helps matters.
Overall this is an entertaining and enjoyable film that is driven by the force of Rutherford's presence. She may not be a great Miss Marple but she does what she does well. The rest of the cast are fun as well and they manage to cover the fact that the mystery side of things could have been stronger and more interesting. Light fun though.
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