The normally friendly village of Lymston is plagued by vile anonymous letters. When a mother of three takes her own life, following such a letter, Ms. Marple is not at all convinced things are as they seem.
A friend of Miss Marple's sees a woman being strangled in a passing train. When police cannot find a body and doubt the story, Miss Marple enlists professional housekeeper, Lucy Eyelesbarrow, to go undercover.
While on vacation at a resort hotel in the West Indies, Miss Marple correctly suspects that the apparently natural death of a retired British major is actually the work of a murderer planning yet another killing.
When a despised magistrate is found shot to death in the library of the local vicarage, his wife and her lover, a portrait painter living on the church grounds, both confess to the crime. Miss Marple's keen powers of observation clear both of them of the crime, but other suspects abound. Included are the murdered man's daughter, who posed for the artist, a neurotic cleric who's embezzled church funds, the local doctor, an ex-convict who poached on the magistrate's land, and a missionary's enigmatic widow who argued with him the day before he was killed. An exasperated Inspector Slack must reluctantly accept help from the analytical Miss Marple.Written by
Gabe Taverney (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Cheryl Campbell (Griselda Clement) and Ian Brimble (Sgt. Lake) were both in Inspector Morse series 4 episode 1 The Infernal Serpent See more »
This seems to be set in the spring of 1955 or 1956. When the parishioners are coming to church late in the second part, they arrive to Albinoni's Adagio even though this wasn't published until 1958. See more »
Robert Lang (Colonel Lucius Protheroe) was omitted from the closing credits even though his name appeared in the opening titles and he played a significant role in the opening scenes before his character was murdered. See more »
Engaging story with gentle laughs and a nice development around the "village grapevine" theme
Life in the vicarage is not as gentile and peaceful as it would seem as even mild-mannered Reverend Clement is driven to swearing by the stiff-necked attitude of Colonel Protheroe over the church accounts. In fact Protheroe is so unpopular that, when he is found murdered in the vicarage, several people confess to the crime to protect others who they assume must have done it. When the police manage to prove that the confessors couldn't possibly have done it, it leaves them with the question of who actually has killed him. As they conduct their investigation, Miss Marple continues her gardening and listens to the village grapevine to build a picture in her mind of what could have happened.
Although I have seen several BBC Miss Marple films where boredom could have been the cause of the murder, I still tried again several times and I was happy when this film turned out to be one of the more enjoyable and free-flowing in the series. Stepping away from the uptight and repressed standards of the period this film instead builds on the gossipy, small-world nature of life in a small English village. In doing this it show Miss Marple's quiet use of the grapevine in nice contrast to the police resources of Slack. The story itself is well structured and has plenty going on it avoids the trap of being dull by way of trying to "English" and is quite fun. The mystery is well spun out and well solved with a nice air of humour along the way. It will still appear "boring" to those raised on the quick-fire mysteries of CSI etc but I found it to be quite sparky by the usual BBC Miss Marple standards.
Hickson is the one I always think of when I think of Miss Marple and here she is good value. She plays the "village" aspect of her character well and her personality comes through well in even simple lines. She is well supported by Horovitch's Slack who provides several laughs with his character. The support are generally up to the task Eddington had a smaller role than I expected but was good; Lang was enjoyable before his final shot while people like Adams, Hazeldine, Good, West and others are all solid enough to stop the audience ignoring them or seeing them as dominate (and thus a possible murderer).
Overall this is an enjoyable and interesting entry in the solid BBC Miss Marple film series. The story is engaging and developed well and, far from being stiff, it actually flows quite well. The addition of humour and lively performances only helps to make it all the more enjoyable and makes this a good introduction to the BBC Marple series.
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