"Murder, She Wrote" The Days Dwindle Down (TV Episode 1987) Poster

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"Strange Bargain" Revisited
WeatherViolet31 August 2009
To assemble a stellar roster of guest stars including Jeffrey Lynn, Martha Scott, June Havoc, Gloria Stuart, Harry Morgan, Susan Strasberg, Richard Beymer, Art Hindle and Tom Dressen exhibits greatness in itself, and this episode does not miss a beat to showcase their fine talent wonderfully, intertwining constant action with file footage of the 1949 Universal Classic "Strange Bargain."

The plot of the original film may differ slightly from the back story of "The Days Dwindle Down," but its actions match perfectly with this tale of an innocent murder suspect, who has spent the past thirty years in prison by a corrupt judicial system, which helped to railroad him.

In the current day, Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury) travels to Los Angeles, California, to launch a speaking tour on the talk show circuit regarding her mystery books. At lunch with booking agent Peabody (Tom Dreesen), he suggests that she address some of the various murders which she has helped to solve.

Georgia Wilson (Martha Scott), a hostess at the hotel restaurant, overhears this conversation and later timidly visits Jessica upstairs at her room. "I could be fired for coming up here," Georgia says, preparing to turn around, before Jessica encourages her to visit, to learn that her husband, Sam, has served three decades for a crime which he did not commit: murder.

Sam Wilson (Jeffrey Lynn) reluctantly begins to fill Jessica in on the details, as told by archival flashback scenes, as son Rod Wilson (Art Hindle) enters to inform Jessica that they've explored every avenue. Rod has become a police officer in the hopes of finding evidence to clear his father's name. In the film, the Wilson's have a daughter, Hilda, who is briefly mentioned her but not heard from again.

Jessica naturally accepts the challenge of snooping around town for clues as to what happened that fateful evening many years earlier.

She questions Dorothy Hearn-Davis (Susan Strasberg), the granddaughter of the late Timothy Hearn, a business partner of the late Malcolm Jarvis, whose son, Sidney Jarvis (Richard Beymer), informs Jessica that his mother, Edna Jarvis (Gloria Stuart), has passed. Or has she?

Jessica visits with Jarvis' former private secretary, Thelma Vante (June Havoc), and retired police Lieutenant Richard Webb (Harry Morgan), who handed the original investigation, in the hopes of shedding new light on matters.

While hot on the cold trail of guile, blackmail, intrigue and corruption in the ranks, an unsuspecting Jessica is faced in the night by a gunshot in her hotel room as "The Days Dwindle Down." Debbie Zipp, who would become the recurring Donna Mayberry later in the series, has an early role as the expectant Wilson daughter-in-law.
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One of the most interesting episodes
dbilyewzip4 July 2007
I just saw a rerun of this episode, and do not remember ever seeing it at the time it was originally released. However, I was impressed with the theme of this particular episode. As a long-time fan of 1940's and 1950's actors and actresses, I could tell almost immediately that clips from an old show or movie had been "woven" into the plot of this episode. I have never seen the 1949 movie, for which this "ending" was created -- but after watching this Murder, She Wrote episode, I now want to see the original movie. I bet it was a GREAT thriller of the past! I recommend this particular episode, not only to Angela Lansbury fans, but to movie buffs as well!
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Interesting fact
freilly-230 January 2016
Warning: Spoilers
The flash back scenes in this movie appear to be from a 1949 movie called Strange Bargain with three of the same actors from this Murder she wrote episode. The actors are Martha Scott, Jeffrey Lynn and Harry Morgan. I believe that they used this movie to show the same actors as very younger people. I wish I could get a copy of this old movie. It is interesting that they did this. The scenes appear to be cuts from this movie. I love how murder she wrote uses so many inventive techniques to relay a story. This is what always makes it so interesting. Of course the other thing that makes them so good is the use of so many famous old time actors.
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A cry for help sees Jessica investigate a thirty year old case.
Paul Evans19 November 2017
Warning: Spoilers
When Jessica is out to lunch, her presence is noted by Hotel employee Georgia Wilson, who later approaches Jessica in her suite and asks for her help. Georgia explains that her husband Sam has just been released after thirty years in Prison for a crime he didn't commit. Georgia is desperate for the couple to spend their remaining time together in happiness, and only Jessica can find the truth about the shooting of Richard Jarvis. Jarvis having paid Sam $10,000 to make his suicide look like murder so his family could inherit.

Arguably the show has continued at a particularly high standard, many shows by the time they reach a third series begin to tire, recycling old ideas, but in fairness to Murder she Wrote, it just got better and better, along with episodes The Corpse Flew First Class and Crossed up, I'd place this as one of the best. Shades of the great movie Double Indemnity.

I loved the story here, Jessica finding justice for someone that has suffered for thirty years, not a passing accusation. The black and white shots could have almost been taken from a 1950's film, they look superb. I particularly liked Martha Scott (Georgia) throughout, such a classy performance.

An excellent episode, 9/10
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No signs of dwindling here
TheLittleSongbird15 August 2017
Have always been quite fond of 'Murder She Wrote'. It is a fun and relaxing watch that makes you think as you try to unwind in the evening. If one wants more complex, twisty mysteries with lots of tension and suspense 'Murder She Wrote' may not be for you, but if you want something light-hearted and entertaining but still provide good mysteries 'Murder She Wrote' fits the bill just fine.

Season 3, and 'Murder She Wrote' in general, showS no signs of dwindling in "The Days Dwindle Down", one of the most interesting episodeS of Season 3 and of all 'Murder She Wrote' episodes put together. Not just for the archival footage of 'Strange Bargain' for the flashbacks, but also being one of few episodes with Jessica investigating a case so old in a quest to prove the innocence of a convicted man.

The flashbacks serve a crucial purpose and add hugely to the story in revealing as much about the past as possible. The mystery is hugely intriguing from start to finish with some tense conflict and some well executed surprises, the ending is one that one doesn't see coming at all.

Production values are slick and stylish as ever with 'Murder She Wrote'. The music has energy and has presence but also not making the mistake of over-scoring, while it is hard to forget or resist the theme tune.

Writing is thought-provoking, light-hearted and amiable and one really cares about the case being solved and for the right person to be found out.

Angela Lansbury is spot-on, and the supporting cast is one of Season 3's strongest with standout turns from Harry Morgan and June Havoc.

In conclusion, terrific episode, one of my favourite Season 3 episodes. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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A novel approach
bkoganbing27 July 2017
This story was one of the best Murder She Wrote episodes as Jeffrey Lynn, Martha Scott, and Harry Morgan all play the same roles they did in a film Strange Bargain made three decades earlier. With the passage of real time giving the players aid no amount of makeup could, a whole story is reinvented with flashbacks from the old film worked into the plot.

Jessica Fletcher usually doesn't investigate 30 year old murders, but the story that Jeffrey Lynn tells her about in jail for a crime he didn't commit certainly intrigued her. With these three and a few others she backtracks and proves what actually happened.

The film was Strange Bargain and by making such a bargain Lynn really put himself in a jackpot. Good thing Angela Lansbury was around to straighten it all out.
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