The year is 1953. The small English village of St. Mary Mead, home to Miss Jane Marple (Dame Angela Lansbury), is delighted when a big American movie company arrives to make a movie telling of the relationship between Jane Grey and Elisabeth I, starring the famous actresses Marina Rudd (Dame Elizabeth Taylor) and Lola Brewster (Kim Novak). Marina arrives with her husband, Jason (Rock Hudson), and when she discovers that Lola is going to be in the movie with her, she hits the roof as Lola and Marina loathe each other on sight. Marina has been getting death threats, and at a party at the manor house, Heather Babcock (Maureen Bennett), after boring Marina with a long story, drinks a cocktail made for Marina, and dies from poisoning. Everybody believes that Marina is the target, but the Police Officer investigating the case, Chief Inspector Dermot Craddock (Edward Fox) isn't sure, so he asks Miss Jane Marple, his aunt, to investigate.Written by
Lee Horton <Leeh@tcp.co.uk>
So-so rendition based on Agatha Christie novel with Miss Marple investigating a strange murder
The film is set in 1953 - hence the Saturday village fête being thrown in aid of the Coronation fund , referring to the Regal Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II on 2nd June that year . Beautiful and veteran film star Marina Gregg (Elizabeth Taylor , being final lead starring role in a cinema movie for this actress) is attempting to make a comeback after being off-screen for many years due to an emotional breakdown and substance abuse. She is supported by her fifth husband and director of the movie, Jason Rudd (Rock Hudson) . They rent a manor house in St. Mary Mead and host a reception for the villagers . Then, there appears another famous actress Lola Brewster (Kim Novak,though Natalie Wood was the first choice but turned the role down after disagreements over cast billing and the portrayal of the character itself) , a real contender to Marina and producer's (Tony Curtis) wife . Marina Rudd (Elizabeth Taylor) and Lola Brewster (Kim Novak) in the period costumer they are shooting within this film were Mary, Queen of Scots and Elizabeth I respectively . At the reception for the fading film star making a screen comeback , a gushing, pushy fan is poisoned by a drink apparently meant for the actress . There she met Gregg briefly before her breakdown and being poisoned by a drink apparently meant for the film star . Because of Gregg's celebrity status, Police Superintendent assigns one of his most skilled and discreet investigators, Inspector Craddock, (Edward Fox) who happens to be Miss Marple's (Angela Lansbury who was only 54 when she played the elderly Miss Marple) nephew . Together they set about investigating the murder , death threats and jealousy associated with the case .
This movie was made and released about eighteen years after Agatha Christie's source novel of the same name was first published in 1962. The film is a detective story in which you are the detective . In the picture there is mystery , emotion , suspense , actors's interpretations are acceptable and wonderful outdoors from Shoreham, St. Clere Estate, Heaverham, Kent, England, UK . The picture eventually arrived fourth in the Brabourne-Goodwin series after Murder on Orient Express , Death on the Nile and Evil under the sun . Nice acting by the great Angela Lansbury , though she stated that playing Miss Marple was 'terrific' and that she 'enjoyed' it very much but thought the film was 'dreadful'. The support cast is pretty good such as Tony Curtis , Geraldine Chaplin , Charles Gray , Nigel Stock and the last feature film of both Anthony Steel, Charles Lloyd and Dinah Sheridan. And one of the first films by Pierce Brosnan at a brief role .
The movie gets a lush costume design by Phyllis Dalton and adequate production design by Michael Stringer . Colorful and sunny cinematography by excellent cameraman Christopher Challis . Sensitive and atmospheric musical score by John Cameron . Passable performances from all-star-cast , a number of the cast had appeared in the earlier'producers Brabourne-Goodwin Agatha Christie movies . Being remade (TV) with Agatha Christie's ¨Miss Marple: The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side¨ by Norman Stone with Joan Hickson , Claire Bloom , Judy Cornwell and Barry Newman .
With this film, Angela Lansbury became the second actress to play Miss Marple on the big screen after Margaret Rutherford had made the role famous during the 1960s. Lansbury was the fourth if one counts TV where Gracie Fields and Inge Langen also played Marple. Subsequently in TV was starred by Joan Hickson who played a successful series . And finally Agatha Christie's Marple series starred by Geraldine McEwan and Julia McKenzie as Miss Marple .
This film was professionally directed by Guy Hamilton though contains some flaws , poor edition and sometimes results to be slow moving as well as boring . Guy Hamilton also directed ¨Live and let die¨, ¨the man with the golden gun¨ with Roger Moore and the best Bond : ¨Goldfinger¨ with Sean Connery . Being final Agatha Christie adaptation directed by Guy Hamilton , his first was Evil under the sun . The two pictures were back-to-back consecutive movies for Hamilton who prior to this movie had not been "totally enamored" by the Christie books . Rating : passable and acceptable , well worth watching . The flick will appeal to suspense lovers and Agatha Christie novels buffs .
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