Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

MURDER MOST FOUL


MURDER MOST FOUL (1964). Director: George Pollock.

Although Agatha Christie's excellent mystery novel Mrs. McGinty's Dead featured her Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, for some reason it was decided to turn it into a Miss Marple mystery for the films. Christie herself was not happy with the casting of Margaret Rutherford as the slender Miss Marple [Christie also hated the title], but as a comic variation on the character the lovable Rutherford -- a true original if ever there were one -- is excellent. The film takes only the barest premise from the novel and pretty much comes up with a new -- but not a better -- storyline. Miss Marple is the one hold out on the jury when a man is put on trial for the murder of Mrs. McGinty, who was apparently up to a bit of blackmail. Marple decides to investigate on her own while the police just wish she'd disappear. Instead she joins a small theatrical company where there are a couple more murders. Eventually she reveals the dastardly plot while nearly coming to an end more than once. Charles Tingwell is the handsome and exasperated Inspector Craddock, and Marple's friend and assistant Jim Stringer is played by Stringer (sic) Davis. Ron Moody is the single-minded head of the Cosgood Players. This was the third out of four Rutherford/Marple features.

Verdict: Pleasant but a far cry from -- and much less interesting than -- the novel. **1/2.

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