A friend of Miss Marple, Mrs Elspeth McGillicuddy, is traveling down to meet Miss Marple on the 4.50 from Paddington. On the way she witnesses a murder when her train draws alongside another train briefly traveling in the same direction. Mrs McGillicuddy reports her sighting to the Railway Police but no body is found. Miss Marple suspects that the body was thrown off the train near the grounds of Rutherford Hall. Miss Marple recruits the services of her niece, Lucy Eeylesbarrow (played by Amanda Holden), to infiltrate the staff at Rutherford Hall and investigate the large, wealthy and dysfunctional Crackenthorpe family whose ancestral home it is. She also gets the local police, in the form of Inspector Tom Campbell (John Hannah), involved.Written by
The least offensive of the ITV Marple films that I have seen but still not very good
Mrs McGillicuddy is on her way to see her friend Miss Marple when she looks out of the train window and sees, in an adjacent train, a woman being strangled by a man. Disturbed and doubted by the police she asks Miss Marple to look into it. With nothing but mockery from Inspector Awdry, the pair try to pinpoint the location of the murder and thus the possible places where the body would be dumped. The most likely would be the ample grounds of the Crackenthorpe estate but they can't go wandering around that looking for a body. So instead Marple turns to her niece Lucy Eyelesbarrow for help getting her to take a job within the grounds to allow her to look around.
I was not actually that taken by the BBC's version of this story so I thought that maybe the ITV "light-entertainment romp" version would be more to my tastes. I say this despite having disliked every other "Marple" (as they call it) entry that I've bothered to try and watch. Here though it does start on familiar terms with a pacier delivery of the murder and setup of the film and in fairness it does continue at this pace throughout, which should make it more accessible that the significantly drier and dull BBC version. However in this opening we also get the thing that annoys me about the Marple films the rather overdone and over-egged delivery across the board.
Here it first struck me with the portrayal of Mrs McGillicuddy as she is delivered a bit lecherous and in a rather crude comical way. It also opens with the overly-loud and ill-fitting dramatic music that continues throughout, even when it was not only unnecessary but totally unwelcome. The cast continue to force their performances as part of the hammy, star-studded, light-entertainment and this does rather overdo things. I can understand what McEwan was asked to do and she does it well but this is different from it being good. She isn't in that context because she is far too giggly and she rarely is able to demonstrate her supposedly keen mind other than reading out the solution of the mystery she doesn't bring it out other than that. The support cast is as usual full of well-known British faces, all of whom have been told to overact somewhat to induce an easy Sunday night. Jones, Warner, Brydon, Holden and Hannah all work well enough but Daniels is mixed while McMenamin, Ferris and a few others are rubbish.
Overall then a better entry in the Marple series but still full of the same problems. The plot is more accessible and lively than the BBC version but it comes at the expense of gaudy delivery, badly used dramatic music and too many performances that ham on the surface but offer little below. The least offensive of the Marple films that I have seen but still not very good.
8 of 20 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this