Sometimes an actor perfectly embodies a literary character. So much so that you cannot picture anyone else playing that character. Such is the case with the Joan Hickson portrayal of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple. Visually and in tone she is spot on. That plus the fact that this is a BBC production makes this a must watch for any fan of Agatha Christie’s intricate and clever mysteries.
Episode 1: They Do It With Mirrors: Miss Marple (played by Joan Hickson) is en route to London to catch a show with a friend, Ruth van Rydock (played by Faith Brook). Over lunch Ruth expresses her concern for her sister Carrie (played by Jean Simmons). Carrie is living in the huge mansion of her first husband with her third husband Lewis (played by Joss Ackland). Lewis has transformed the mansion into an establishment for juvenile delinquents. A murder does occur but it is not Carrie who is the victim rather it is the son of her first husband.
Episode 2: A Pocketful of Rye: It seems like it is going to be a good day for Mr. Rex Fortescue (played by Timothy West), owner of Fortescue Holdings, then suddenly things take a turn for the worse. After drinking his tea, brought to him by his secretary, he collapses on the floor. He is obviously dead before the ambulance can even arrive. The man was obviously a victim of poisoning and it certainly is a case for the police. Things are made even curiouser when some rye is found in his jacket pocket. Things are a mess causing the Fortescue maid Gladys (played by Annette Badland) to call on her friend Miss Marple for some help.
Episode 3: 4:50 From Paddington: Elspeth McGillicuddy (played by Mona Bruce) has decided to visit her friend Miss Marple. She is traveling there by train. While reading a mystery novel on the trip she falls asleep only to wake up to find it dark outside. As the train comes to a crossing it slows down to let another pass. Elspeth looks out her window to recoil in horror when she sees a man on the other train strangling a woman. When she arrives at Jane’s house she tells her all about what she saw. When Miss Marple brings her friend to report the crime to Inspector Slack (played by David Horovitch) and he looks into the matter turning up nothing, she knows it is time for her to step in.
Episode 4: The Mirror Crack’d From Side to Side: Dolly Bantry (played by Gwen Watford), a friend of Miss Marple, has sold Gossington Hall. After her husband’s death she sees no need for such a large house. Without a permanent place to live, Dolly decides to take a trip around the world. Upon her return she drops by to see Miss Marple. While there she invites Miss Marple to the annual St. John’s Ambulance Garden Party, which the new owners, Jason Rudd (played by Barry Newman) and Marina Gregg (played by Claire Bloom) of Hollywood, has agreed to continue hosting. The party is brought to a halt when a murder occurs.
Special Features: A Very British Murder, Part 2: Detection Most Ingenious