A mathematician and author, Luke Williams, is travelling up to London on a train when he meets a old lady, Lavinia Fullerton, who is also going to London, to Scotland Yard. Lavinia tells Luke that in her small village several people have died. The local police are certain that it was all accidental and are taking no action but Lavinia isn't convinced. In London Luke watches, horrified, as Lavinia is run over in a hit and run and he becomes convinced that she was telling the truth. He travels down to the village and with the aid of a local girl, who is also convinced that the deaths were murder, sets out to solve the mystery...Written by
Lee Horton <Leeh@tcp.co.uk>
Agatha Christie's 'Murder Is Easy' gets off to a brisk start with Helen Hayes as a little old lady on her way to Scotland Yard to report a series of murders in her village. She describes the look that made her realize who the murderer is and tells Bill Bixby, "If no one suspects you, murder is easy." Shortly after she leaves the train station, she is killed in an auto accident. Thus, Bixby decides to investigate for himself.
Carmen Culver's teleplay would have been better if it hadn't updated the Christie material and tried to modernize the story with foolish computer nonsense. Furthermore, by devoting entirely too much time to the red herrings and focusing almost all of the remaining time on Lesley-Anne Down and Bill Bixby's growing relationship, it turns the surprise ending into little more than a sham for which there is no preparation. Bill Bixby's character in the novel was a young policeman--here he is an American computer wizard who delves into use of the computer (to no avail) to solve the crime. He's charming and believable enough but too many scenes are throwaways involving him and Lesley-Anne Down.
Suffice it to say that this is not one of the best adaptations of Christie's work. The technical aspects are excellent--the color photography of the English settings is impressive and all of the performances are first-rate. Nice to see Olivia de Havilland and Helen Hayes as "special guest stars". Helen Hayes contributes so much to the opening scenes that she makes up for the fact that there is no Miss Marple in this one.
But the tight suspense of the final scenes in the novel when the murderer is caught and revealed is missing here and the explanations are too swift to carry much weight.
Still, an absorbing who-dun-it for mystery fans although modernizing the story with computer detection work is no help at all.
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