Cast & Crew
At a board meeting of the Cape of Good Hope Youth Reclamation Trust, trustee Cecil Ffolly-Hardwicke drops dead before he can reveal some vital information concerning H. M. S. Battledore , the naval cadet ship used by the trust to rehabilitate juvenile delinquents. Miss Marple, a fellow trustee and private detective, discovers that Hardwicke has been poisoned, though the police discount her theory. To the dismay of Captain de Courcy Rhumstone, she boards the ship to continue her investigation, leaving her trusted assistant, Mr. Stringer, on shore to aid her. While Miss Marple searches for clues to the murder, Lieutenant Compton, discovered by the detective instructing a group of cadets in the profitable sideline of housebreaking, and Shirley Boston, an assistant matron, are murdered. Miss Marple learns that Commander Breeze-Connington has been embezzling funds for a number of years and has committed the murders in order to protect himself. She confronts Breeze-Connington; a fencing match ensues; and Miss Marple holds the murderer off until the police arrive.
Lawrence P. Bachmann
J. B. Smith
A. W. Watkins
In Murder Ahoy, which had the distinction of being the only one of the four films based on an original script and not one of Christie's stories, Miss Marple investigates the murder of a charity trustee aboard a floating home for boys. As was often the case, Rutherford's real life husband, Stringer Davis, appears with her in the film. In Murder Ahoy he plays Mr. Stringer, the helpful librarian who frequently comes to Miss Marple's aid.
Surprisingly, Rutherford didn't want to play Miss Marple to begin with. In fact for several years she dismissed the idea, saying she wasn't interested in murder stories. But in 1960, MGM purchased the rights to all of Christie's stories for three million dollars, at first with the idea of creating a television series. Eventually, a movie series was decided on and director George Pollock tried once again to convince the reluctant Rutherford to take the role. Pollock sent Rutherford the script for Murder She Said and promised that Miss Marple would be a helpful character, one who took a gamesman-like approach to crime solving instead of focusing on the morbid details. Rutherford finally agreed.
Later on she would find out that Agatha Christie had actually been against the casting. Christie had nothing against Rutherford as an actress, but apparently she had based Miss Marple on an aunt who in no way resembled Rutherford. No matter, the two soon met and became admirers of each other's work. Christie would eventually dedicate the book The Mirror Cracked From Side to Side to Margaret.
Rutherford's career had already spanned some thirty years before she stepped into Miss Marple's memorable shoes. Her screen career began in 1936 with a role in the British film Dusty Ermine. She followed that with appearances in everything from the Nazi thriller The Yellow Canary (1943) to a film adaptation of Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest (1952). Prior to Miss Marple, Rutherford's defining role came in 1946 as an eccentric medium in Blithe Spirit (1945).
Between Christie films in 1963, Rutherford won an Oscar® and a Golden Globe for her performance in The V.I.P.s. And in 1967, that honor was followed by another, when Queen Elizabeth made her a Dame.
Producer: Lawrence P. Bachmann
Director: George Pollock
Screenplay: David Pursall, Jack Seddon
Production Design: Sydney Streeter
Cinematography: Desmond Dickinson
Costume Design: William C. Andrews
Film Editing: Ernest Walter
Original Music: Ron Goodwin
Cast: Dame Margaret Rutherford (Miss Marple), Lionel Jeffries (Capt. Sidney de Courcy Rhumstone), Charles Tingwell (Detective Inspector Craddock), William Mervyn (Cmdr. Breeze-Connington), Joan Benham (Matron Alice Fanbraid), Stringer Davis (Mr. Stringer),
BW-93m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning.
by Stephanie Thames
The Agatha Christie Miss Marple Collection - Margaret Rutherford as Miss Marple in 4 Films on DVD
To order The Miss Marple Collection, go to
The first film, Murder, She Said, is the only one based on a Miss Marple novel (The 4:50 from Paddington). Miss Marple sees a murder being committed on a train running on a parallel track, but when the police fail to turn up any sign of a body and see no case to pursue, Miss Marple decides to take the case on herself. She determines that the only place along that particular stretch of railway that a body could've been tossed from the train without being seen is at Ackenthorp Hall. She manages to get a job as a maid at the Hall, and soon discovers the body in sarcophagus, which brings in Instpector Craddock (Charles Tingwell) and his men. But it's Miss Marple along with her sidekick Mr. Stringer (Striger Davis, Rutherford's real-life husband. Ironically, Joan Hixson, who would later become known as the definitive Miss Marple on the long-running BBC series, has a small part as a maid.
Murder at the Gallop is based on the Hercule Poirot novel After the Funeral. The not-so-unexpected heart attack of a rich man is written off as death by natural causes until Miss Marple discovers that the diseased had a pathological fear of cats, and someone had hidden a cat in the man's house so that he would come on it unawares. Once again the police have no intention of looking into Miss Marple's theory, so she checks into the Gallop Hotel, a horse riding establishment where all of the dead man's heirs are staying, and launches her investigation. But before long there are more deaths. Murder at the Gallop guest stars Robert Morley as the head of the family, who ends up hoping that Miss Marple will permanently keep her saddle at the Gallop.
Murder, Most Foul is also based on a Hercule Poirot novel, Mrs. McGinty's Dead. Miss Marple serves on a jury where she is convinced that the accused is not guilty – of course, the other eleven jurists feel otherwise. When the trial ends in a hung jury and the trial rescheduled, Miss Marple is on the move to solve the case. She traces McGinty's connections to a theatrical company that had just past through town. The struggling company, run by Driffold Cosgood (Ron Moody), is all too happy to take on a wealthy novice who wants to act (namely, Miss Marple). No sooner is Marple on the scene than the cast members start dropping off one by one. To solve the murders, Miss Marple must figure out the identity of an illegitimate child of a former actress. The cast includes Francesca Annis, who would later star in the series Agatha Christie's Tommy and Tuppence: Partners in Crime.
The last film in the set, Murder Ahoy, finds Miss Marple appointed to the board of a school for wayward boys that is housed on the frigate The Battledorn, which is moored in the harbor. At their first meeting, one of the other board members takes a sniff of snuff and promptly drops dead. In the confusion that follows the snuff is stolen from the box. The board member had been upset about something he'd discovered on visiting The Battledorn, so Of course, Miss Marple decides to pay the Battledorn a visit herself, and once there finds that everyone on board appears to have a secret...and some of those secrets will lead to murder.
The four Rutherford Marple movies may not come close to representing Agatha Christie's creation, but they are delightful, entertaining films in their own right, best enjoyed if you don't actually think of them as true Miss Marple adaptations.
Warner Bros.' new set offers four splendid transfers, stuck from source material that in remarkable crisp and clean condition. The audio is also in excellent condition, with no sign of deterioration and crystal clear tone quality. The disc includes the trailers for all four films.
For more information about The Miss Marple Collection, visit Warner Video.
by Fred Hunter
The Agatha Christie Miss Marple Collection - Margaret Rutherford as Miss Marple in 4 Films on DVD To order The Miss Marple Collection, go to TCM Shopping.
Released in Great Britain in October 1965; running time: 74 min.