Miss Marple: A Caribbean Mystery (TV Movie 1989) Poster

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A brilliant, superior adaptation.
Sleepin_Dragon16 April 2008
I cannot believe the lack of positive comments on this episode. Everything works together, the acting, the locations, the music, the subtle changes to the book. To make what is in my humble opinion a wonderful piece of drama, Joan Hickson is as always incredibly good in the role. Superior in every way to the inferior Helen Hayes version, Adrian Lukis and the gorgeous Sophie Ward are superb, and the closing scene between them is superbly acted and gripping. It would be really interesting to see if ITV can produce something as good as this when it comes around to it, will also be interesting to see who will be starring as Miss Marple. Sit back and enjoy this wonderful drama. 10/10
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Solid Entertainment
Dawnfrancis5 May 2003
This is worth sitting down to watch. Not your typical Miss Marple, as it takes place in Barbados. However, all the usual ingredients are there to make this a worthwhile diversion. I agree that there are some changes from the book, but on the whole these are positive. Give it a go.
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"By far and away the best adaptation of Christie's novel."
jamesraeburn200330 December 2004
Miss Marple is enjoying a holiday in Barbados recovering from a recent illness. However, an ex colonial police officer called Major Palgrave (Frank Middlemass), boasts to Miss Marple about a murder story and takes a photograph out of his wallet which apparently has a murderer's face on it. However, he suddenly sees that person and quickly puts the photograph back into his wallet. Miss Marple didn't take it very seriously at the time but when Major Palgrave is found dead the next morning, she wishes she had when more murders follow.

By far and a way the best version of Christie's whodunit. It was filmed in Hollywood in 1983 as a lacklustre TV movie starring Helen Hayes as Miss Marple and was saddled with an indifferent script. This BBC production is lengthly, but there is more attention to detail and a first rate cast including Donald Pleasance, Frank Middlemass and not forgetting Hickson's Miss Marple. All do fine work in their roles.
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Worth a look
lucy-6620 May 2002
Well shot and acted, and it transports you to a pleasant hotel in the Caribbean. Is Donald Pleasance making up his own dialogue? I'm sure Christie never called anyone a 'saucy mare'. Liberties are taken with the book, some good (Miss Marple's visit to the chambermaid's aunt) and some pointless (made up superstitions about the dead taking revenge). Directors should trust Christie!

Many of the 'improvements' blur and confuse the storyline. xxxxxx
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She was outlandish on this island
Dr_Coulardeau11 February 2011
Warning: Spoilers
It is no good for Miss Marple to take a vacation – sorry, holiday – in some distant exotic place like Barbados because crime is following her just the same and she gets mixed in several murders. The gist of the case here is that she was told everything that was going to happen by some kind of blabber mouth of a major of the colonial police, and she did not listen properly, just providing him with the few prompts and cues necessary for him to go on talking. But of course she will manage to prevent the last murder but three people had had it hard in the hands of that murderer. Once again that poor Miss Marple finds herself in a human environment that is not very gratifying for humanity itself: rich self-made men who control people around them with money and nurture that way all kinds and types of jealousy and hatred and that is the real fodder a murderer needs to accomplish his deadly mission which in a way is a cleansing mission in this society. There is some kind of cynicism in Miss Marple and her vision of society as being the real home of all kinds of cankers and rotten apples. And yet she manages to protect these selfish and self-centered individuals. This film was slightly too slow in a way and the Barbados setting was not used as much as it could have been.

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Beautifully shot adaptation, and I do think it is the best adaptation of the book
TheLittleSongbird8 November 2009
Caribbean Mystery is a good book by Agatha Christie, but I wouldn't go to say it was one of her best. It is worth the read, but I do prefer Murder is Announced and Sleeping Murder out of the Marple books. This adaptation while taking some liberties with the book, is the best adaptation, and yes I do prefer it over the Helen Hayes version. The adaptation is beautifully shot, with lovely camera work and the scenery is colourful and very pleasing to the eye. The music is well composed and fits nicely with what's going on on screen, if careful not to overshadow the action in those crucial scenes. The script and plot are solid, while taking liberties with the book. Speaking of the changes, I liked the idea of Miss Marple visiting the chambermaid's aunt, however some other changes like the dead coming back from the dead seemed far-fetched and didn't quite work. The adaptation also is rather lengthy, and there is some sluggish pacing in the middle half. On the plus side though, asides from how it was filmed and the good plot and script, we are also treated to a first-rate cast. Joan Hickson is as wonderful as ever as Miss Marple, and Donald Pleasance makes the most out of his role as Jason Rafiel. Sue Lloyd is suitably nasty as Lucy Dyson, and T.P.McKenna is good as Dr Grahame. Adrian Lukis and Sophie Ward are a little on the dull side as the Kendalls though. I will say the final solution was very effective. Overall, a worthwhile diversion, not so bad as an adaptation either. If you want a better Hickson- Marple adaptation though, try Murder Is Announced and Sleeping Murder. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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Surprisingly faithful to the novel
rosarypliers8 December 2009
Warning: Spoilers
"A Caribbean Mystery" is my favorite Miss Marple novel. It takes her to a scenery where you might expect Hercule Poirot but not our favorite English spinster. The book has many intriguing characters…and this TV movie kept many of them. You might miss Senora de Caspearo, who, in the book, gets Miss Marple on the right track with her "evil eye" superstition. But we have all necessary characters who are knitted into this mystery which is mostly about adultery, money…and murder. They dedicated much screen time to the maid, who was little more than a prop for Christie. However, befriending the maid and visiting her village, I actually think this is what Christie's Miss Marple might do. The voodoo stuff was probably inspired by other Christie novels, such as "The Pale Horse" or "Endless Night" but it used up much screen time which I would have rather dedicated to actually seeing Lucky's death. In the book, when they discover her floating corpse, they at first think it is Molly — which leads to the conclusion that the murderer might have been mistaken, too. That's why I give 9 stars out of 10.

And last but not least some hints for those who might be confused by user lossowitz' comments: The poison was not administered through pills in a bottle randomly placed into Palgrave's medicine cabinet but in another way which is not disclosed in the movie. Tim Kendall placed regular blood pressure pills there afterwards, taking advantage of the fact that many people in the hotel believed Palgrave had a heart condition. When Victoria started to tell people about the pill bottle that had not been in the cabinet before, Tim just played cool. He was still safe. Even if the police found out that Palgrave did not die of natural causes, he could have gotten away with it. But Victoria simply knew too much. She knew that the bottle belonged to Greg Dyson and that the person who placed it into Palgraves cabinet must have been either him or somebody who had access to his suite — the hotel manager, for example. Victoria confronts Dyson, who does not react to her threats because he simply didn't do it. Victoria did not enlist Miss Marple's help because she did not want the murderer brought to justice, she wanted money. She probably blackmailed Tim off-screen when he was "returning the knife". And if you watch the movie carefully, it becomes obvious that Palgrave is not just dug out because of a superfluous pill bottle but on behalf of the doctor who is Miss Marple's ally.
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Joan Hickson
stephen-best5 May 2014
Joan Hickson plays Miss Marple - she is the best to have done so.

If you like Agatha Christie's Marple stories that is all you need to know,

Unfortunately at the time of writing we seem to get on TV repeats the later made series with Geraldine Mcewan in the role.

The difference between the two is chasmic.

This is not my favourite Marple story but enjoyable nevertheless.

Good to see the great Donald Pleasance in the cast.

But oh so good to see Joan HIckson once again.

Let's have more of her on TV please pretty please.
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OK but not one of the best
Iain-2155 April 2008
Warning: Spoilers
This is quite a late entry in the BBC Hickson Miss Marple series. The story had a previous outing with Helen Hayes as an American Miss Marple. I re watched this recently a found it surprisingly worthwhile though hopelessly trapped in 80's TV movie-land - it had a good Mr Rafiel! This Hickson version is quite faithful to the book though it has to be said that Christie spent less time mourning the death of the maid than this more PC version. There are a couple of minor characters cut out but otherwise its fairly intact. The cast is OK; Donald Pleasance does pretty well as Rafiel but no better than his Hayes counterpart, the Kendalls are a little dull and Sue Lloyd affects a bored Texan drawl as the unpleasant Lucky Dyson.

Joan Hickson is wonderful as always as Miss Marple but this is not, in my opinion one of her better outings.
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pwme2 August 2017
This was such a good movie. So very beautifully filmed and shot. Joan Hickson is brilliant as Miss Marple so much so that when I read the books now, which I've read many times before, it's Miss Hickson in my mind as I am reading. She is amazing.

This was such an engrossing movie that I watched it without any boredom and thoroughly enjoyed myself. It doesn't rush the story line or add foolish characters or little pathetic jokes as the remake does.

Definitely worth seeing and adding to your collection.
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A commercial excursion
Oct14 August 2004
Originally screened as a Christmas treat, this "Miss Marple" adaptation-- part of a cycle established since 1984- was mainly shot in Barbados and presumably commanded a bigger budget than usual. All the more surprising that direction was entrusted not to a BBC trusty but to Chris Petit, a critic who had turned road-movie maker, imitating Germans such as Wenders.

True, Petit had previously helmed PD James's "An Unsuitable Job for a Woman", with many an attempt to "subvert" that conservative Queen of Crime's material in a feminist direction; but the movie tanked, and this Agatha Christie version is more respectful. As others have remarked, the screenplay (by regular Christie scenarist Trevor Bowen, who as usual writes in a small part for himself) introduces a dash of political correction. Miss M trots round to Isabelle Lucas's shanty for a nice cup of tea to show she's no segregationist, and Shaughan Seymour's haughty white colonial administrator patronises the black police inspector: reasonably so, since the latter has less to do with solving the crime than Miss M's English foil DI Slack, as it turns out.

Donald Pleasence injects an amusingly repellent late cameo as a rough old fellow guest; Barbara Barnes (what happened to her?) is alluring as his put-upon secretary. But for the most part the story unrolls with no conspicuous directorial touches. This was Petit's height as a commercial proposition; subsequently he sank back into the wilderness of arty late-night TV projects. The explosion in British feature film production since the early 1980s seems to have left him as high and dry as Michael Winner, though one would not bracket them for any other reason.
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The Best, by the Best
edavidathome21 December 2019
Many years ago before Joan Hickson started in the role, Margaret Rutherford was my favourite Miss Marple and couldn't envisage changing my mind. However now, for me Hickson is the best, and this is the best episode, just! She is ably assisted by an excellent Donald Pleasance.
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Murder in Barbadoes
bkoganbing23 December 2013
The casting of Donald Pleasance as one of the guests would probably immediately make you think he's the guilty party in A Caribbean Mystery. After all look at his career and the roles he's played for the most part. But this much I will give you, he's not the perpetrator in this Miss Marple mystery starring Joan Hickson. Oh, he's a disagreeable individual, but murder isn't in his makeup this time around.

Not like you haven't got a whole resort hotel filled with likely suspects. On doctor's advice Joan Hickson has left St. Mary Mead for the sunny climate of Barbadoes and she's booked into a hotel run by the husband and wife team of Adrian Lukis and Sophie Ward. A Colonel Blimp like guest played by Frank Middlemass who makes a crashing boor of himself to Hickson and the rest of the guests is found dead in his room the next day after he tells Hickson he's on to a murderer from back in his days in the colonial service. Some blood pressure medicine is found at the scene that doesn't belong to him. That sets Hickson's little gray cells inside her gray head working.

Two more murders follow before Hickson figures it out. And figuring prominently is the glass eye that Middlemass had.

Hickson as Marple is the oldest Marple out there unless someone tells me different. She was in her 80s doing this role. But her powers if anything seem to increase with age.

Jane Marple is always good viewing for anyone wanting to get their little gray cells in action.
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Has color and some spark, but not strong enough in the build
bob the moo31 March 2013
The BBC Marple is often considered as the best version but at the same time it is hard not to take as a reaction to the ITV versions so much as it is about the BBC one in particular. Personally I often find that its rather dry and crisp approach is both its strength and its undoing as it provides a really good base but then seems to hamper the build up and development of the mystery. In this case the film appears to be trying to do something a bit different and, reading around, I found that it was originally screened as a Christmas special, with a larger budget allowing it a move away from the UK.

This move allows for a bit more color in the production, and I mean that in several ways as of course the location is livelier but also the cast features characters that befit the exotic location. This location is used reasonably well against the character of Marple, who continues to be a bit dry and "tut tut" in her approach, although in this case it is played for the contrast. This works for a while but then the film settles into the telling and the setup works well, providing a small group that it must have been, an interesting back-story for Marple to uncover and a colorful group of characters. For the most part this base makes the film work but I thought the solution as always came too quickly and without much in the way of help for the viewer, it is something I watched than something I was engaged – particularly as it got closer to the end.

The performances and characters are solid though. Hickson plays to what she knows and I quite liked her out of her usual setting. The supporting cast is solid but owe a massive debt to Pleasence, who is fun and sparky in a supporting role. The locations are reasonably good but it does feel rather sanitized in terms of accents, characters and places – the action doesn't really leave the resort and, when it does, it doesn't seem to go to anywhere that isn't equally nice and well spoken.

Anyway, despite the usual problems, this is a solid Marple with a decent plot, good characters and a nice line in color and fun through it. Not enough to win over those that aren't fans of the approach (and an unlikely festive "treat") but still solid despite not taking the viewer with it at the end.
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Gossipy and a little slow.
rmax3048239 December 2011
Warning: Spoilers
The performances are all satisfactory without any being exceptional. Joan Hickson has a presence about equal in impact to a tuna fish on white bread but other reviewers have compared her acting favorably with that of Helen Hayes in an earlier version of the story, and I can believe it.

Donald Pleasance, whose bald head has become freckled with age, is great as the wheelchair-bound curmudgeon, and Barbara Barnes as his major domo is properly pretty. As Lucky Dyson, Sue Loyd is presented as repellent but Sophie Ward as the endangered wife is flawless -- beautiful, slender, frangible, edible. Her acting is okay too. But it's really a little unfair that someone should be as attractive as Ward, way out there on the end of the Gaussian distribution, while so many of the rest of us fall short by a silly millimeter here, a tangent there, a conical section somewhere else. What is it that makes one person gorgeous and another not? Inquiring minds want to know. And, curse her, she moves with elegance and grace too. Has she no modesty?

As for the plot, well, I read the novel years ago and found it confusing and gossipy and the film doesn't change things much. I actually didn't understand much of it. Partly because of the intricacy of the story itself, partly because of some odd accents used by the principals, and partly because those damned chirping crickets didn't sound like crickets at all, but rather the squeakings of a rusty old porch swing -- and loud. The photography seemed subdued, considering this is Barbados. There's little sense of sunshine and beaches. Though we see some sand and sea, they lack dazzle.

I think, if I had to choose, I'd prefer Hercule Poirot. He has a good many quirks that make him a person of some interest, while Miss Marple has only her knitting. It's also more fun -- and more politically correct -- to make fun of a short, squat, vain, finicky epicurean. It's harder to have fun with a little old lady who is essentially a passive observer.
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Oh dear
lossowitz16 April 2009
Warning: Spoilers
A good crime novel might be material for a fine movie or even for some entertaining distraction, as the hunt for the killer is a plot technique that keeps the attention focused. How they made such a gruesome movie out of an Agatha Christie novel is an art in itself.

As not having read the novel, I'm not sure if the plotting mistakes are due to the writing or the adaption, but either way, they are there and aren't going away. The poison in the pills that the major never takes? Why would he take one now? The killer not trying to hush the possible poisoning but even informing the police about it? The exhumation based on the fact that a pill bottle was in his bathroom that wasn't there before? The hotel nurse telling someone in a highly suspecting way that she saw the killer? Why not tell the police or even her 'new friend' miss Marple? Dramatic effects like the exhumation during the night, some tiny voodoo and the nervy score cannot save the lack of drama.

Badly scripted, awfully acted and Barbados seems a perpetually overcast island with some techno-echo-crickets chirping away every time we are supposed to witness outdoor scenes at night. This isn't even entertaining anymore, this movie is a crime itself.
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Hayes-Hickson 2-0
gridoon202029 September 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Apparently I'm in the minority, but I liked the Helen Hayes (1983 and 1985) versions of two of Agatha Christie' Miss Marple novels - this one and "They Do It With Mirrors" - more than the Joan Hickson takes on the same stories. Not only because I warmed up more easily to Hayes after only 2 movies than I have to Hickson after seeing her in 7 so far, but also because the plot is much better explained in the Hayes versions; it's ironic how these two Hickson films are so plodding for most of their running time, but when they get to the most important part of any mystery, the resolution, they rush right through it. Another problem with this film is the often annoyingly loud score, which sometimes drowns out the dialogue (most frustratingly, this even happens during Miss Marple's final explanations!). Admittedly, if you don't know the story, the film does a good job of camouflaging the killer - by barely featuring him or her on the screen! The Barbados island does make for a pleasant change of scenery in the series, and the absolutely lovely Sophie Ward gives a sympathetic performance as the vulnerable Molly (my rating would have been lower without her), but nobody else in the cast is particularly memorable, and that includes Donald Pleasence. (**1/2)
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zombiemockingbird11 April 2019
I love Miss Marple but this was my least favorite of the series. The worst part was the soundtrack; there was this constant squeaking that I guess was supposed to be ceiling fans maybe? I never could figure it out but it set my teeth on edge and made the show almost unwatchable.Aside from that it was just extremely slow and kind of boring. Most of the characters were particularly annoying; the poor acting made them completely unrealistic except for Miss Marple and Mr. Rafiel. It's a shame, because it was set in such a beautiful place and could have been better done.
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A Drugged Blur
tedg9 September 2003
Christie did all sorts of things with mystery, but in this case she stuck to the genre as genre. In this case, the idea is to deepen the groove, to follow the pattern and surprise with small things rather than the grand upsets of other stories.

In that case, the subtleties are important: the richnesses of character aren't there to define a person, instead to indicate a world, many worlds as candidates for the one world that is true.

These BBC do more than just tinker with the story, they flatten those worlds into characters, and then strut these characters as stereotypes. All the richness of the mystery is lost.

In this case, there's an extra cause for humor: to enhance the local flavor and also satisfy modern correctness, we have extended additions involving the local people: an aunt and a patronizing voodoo bit.

The result is an unwatchable mess.

Since nothing of value can be said of this particular episode, this is a good a place as any to remark on the portrayal of Miss Marple. In the books, the character is a busybody, slightly obnoxious, fussy. Bright, but only by measurements in her own world. She is as occupied with her garden as the gossip in the village. She is, in fact, as comical in her own way as Poirot is meant to be.

The BBC characterizations make Poirot more comical and Marple decidedly less so. She is reduced to one mannerism, an "oh dear oh dear oh dear" or some slight variation, while at the same time hovering near fondly remembered grandmotherisms. The whole

fulcrum of the craft is in the position of the detective, where they are in comparison to us. Here that fulcrum has been blindly moved to a sunnier spot.

A real shame.

Ted's Evaluation -- 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.
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newer, British miss marple.
ksf-224 February 2014
Joan Hickson had played Jane Marple numerous times, so she was a pro by the time this TV movie came along. Not my favorite Jane Marple, but to each his own. In this one, she is on vacation in the Caribbean, and looking quite bored as she listens to the other hotel guest drone on, and on, and on.

Frank Middlemass guest stars as the (boring) retired military man who drives everyone away with his war stories. The hotel owners are a married couple who flirt with the guests, as it is good for business. You'll recognize Donald Pleasance, as another hotel guest, who was in TONS of stuff, probably the most famous role being "Blofeld" in You Only Live Twice. And a group of Americans. Then a hotel guest croaks, and the police show up to investigate. Things move a slower in this one than the old black and white Miss Marples, and there isn't the clever banter here that we see in those... pretty dry, all in all. It's OK. This one was made for TV; have never seen it shown on TV, but it IS available on Netflix streaming.
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