Murder Most Foul 7.0
eyelights: the plot. the setting.
eyesores: the hackneyed humourous bits. the character with premonitions.
“It may irritate you, Inspector, but sometimes women have superior minds. You’ll simply have to accept it.”
‘Murder Most Foul’ is the first of two Agatha Christie-inspired motion picture featuring Margaret Rutherford as Miss Marple to be released in 1964. It is very loosely based on ‘Mrs McGinty’s Dead’, which originally featured Hercule Poirot, not Miss Marple.
It begins with Miss Marple doing jury duty. A man is accused of hanging a woman, but claims that he returned from a walk and was trying to undo the rope when the police officer found him. Everyone thinks it’s an open and shut case. Even the judge seems convinced.
But the jury is unable to come to an agreement because of Marple, forcing a retrial. Naturally, the police are upset about this turn of events, especially Inspector Craddock, whose hair seems infested with Miss Marple’s endless interferences in recent years.
Convinced that the accused is innocent, Marple returns to the scene of the crime. Under false pretenses, she finds a way to search the victim’s belongings – while her loyal friend Mr. Stringer distracts the woman’s sister. Marple discovers that the victim was blackmailing someone.
Since she also found theatre programs for a production of the play ‘Murder She Said‘ (the title of the first picture in this Marple/Rutherford series of films), Marple seeks out the theatre company that held the play and auditions in order to get to know the players.
She joins the troupe, but there’s another murder. And Miss Marple may be next: one of them knows that she’s not who she says she is!
Again, I enjoyed this romp starring Margaret Rutherford as Agatha Christie. Her schtick no longer bothers me as much as it did when I first saw the series years ago. I wish that she had played it straight, but it likely endeared her to audiences and I accept that.
There are nonetheless moments that stuck in my craw, like the scene in which she decides to perform a silly calisthenics routine in the window to flag Mr. Stringer down – instead of simply waving or some such thing. He was staring at the window anyway, so why the theatrics?
There are also less silly bits that are annoying, like the fake scares wherein Marple is startled by cats, thinking there’s someone in her room. Le sigh. Al annoying: Eva, one of the troupe members, has premonitions – a really grating plot device.
And I’m not even sure if the whole plot ties together neatly. Although the killer lays it out at the end, as can be expected in these whodunnits, I simply couldn’t make sense of it all. I honestly couldn’t say if it was illogical or not: I just couldn’t connect all the dots for some reason.
Thankfully, ‘Murder Most Foul’ is more than just a sum of its parts. It’s an energetic little number that entertains as it intrigues. It’s likely not for Agatha Christie purists, but tourists will probably find it delightful and worth their time.
Date of viewing: November 23, 2014