Thursday 6 December 2007

Murder Ahoy (1964) George Pollock

It's been a while but finally I get to see the fourth and final Margaret Rutherford Miss Marple (fourth of five if you count her guest appearance in the Poirot movie, The Alphabet Murders. As with the others it's hardly Agatha Christie's Marple but a reinterpretation of the character for film, and this fact is even pointed out during the credits. The rest of the credits involve Miss Marple dressing up as the Navy's version of a battleaxe in preparation for where the title takes her and us.

She takes her uncle's place on the board of a trust that maintains a boat called the Battledore to rehabilitate young rascals, with awesome coincidence the very day one of her fellow trustees drops dead during their first meeting, murdered by strychnine laced snuff. Talk about convenience. Anyway he was about to speak up about something important, so Miss Marple naturally takes it upon herself (and Mr Stringer, of course) to visit the Battledore and investigate.

The mystery here is about as shipshape as that initial coincidence, which is to say not very. However Margaret Rutherford is in fine fettle as the indomitable Jane and lets full fly with her astounding range of facial manipulations. Her co-lead is a young Lionel Jeffries, who has the wonderful timing and barely contained apoplexy you'd expect. In fact the whole thing is timed very well indeed, with everyone from Derek Nimmo to Nicholas Parsons playing their part. It plays like a more modern piece of fluff, full of pantomime, forced yet quotable lines and a major lack of subtlety, not to mention a growing body count. Also by this time Inspector Craddock is reduced to little more than a couple of jokes.

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