Agatha Christie’s Marple mystery that explodes with dark humour and revenge. Its 1953, small and stately England. Jane Marple is living out the days enjoying church fairs, Woman’s institute functions and the odd Hollywood film production. They are there to shoot a costume drama about the life of Mary, Queen of Scots. Not only have they a famous director Jason Rudd (Rock Hudson) helming the feature but they have two very famous ladies as the stars. Marina Rudd (Elizabeth Taylor) and Lola Brewster (Kim Novak) are massive stars, they also hate each other with a passion. Marina wants to make a come back after years in he shade. She suffered a nervous breakdown after the birth of her first child. This lead in turn to her losing her star billing and someone else taking the stage. Rudd is Marina’s husband and is guiding her through the shoot but when she learns that Lola will be in the film as well, she became uncontrollable.However Marty Fenn (Tony Curtis) who is producing the film, wants this volatile relationship to continue. Now that the village is overcome with excitement, an event to promote the film is staged. The reception sees wine flow and words spilled. However when one guest dies from poisoning, Marple is on the case.
Guy Hamilton directs this adaptation of Christie story. Hamilton had direct Bond, An Inspector Calls and The Battle of Britain among other films. He was a skilled director of action films but as is shown by Mirror Crack’d, was less skilled at directing actors. With talent like Rock Hudson, Taylor, Novak and even Lansbury this might prove detrimental. Well it is detrimental. It lacks urgency, a key component of a mystery film. This could be due to the script or direction as both are weak. However I feel it could also be due to the lack of desire for the film from said cast. You see actors often feel like they are plodding along if they don’t care for the film they are working on. When this shows its destructive to the whole. In the Mirror Crack’d they almost are unable to keep interest in the piece long enough to maintain its course. It feels heavy and this makes the piece weak. It also means that they were and are almost totally under utilized. Elizabeth Taylor is all faces and parrot lines. Novak is dull and damp. Hudson seems just to get something out of it but only just because he makes everything he was in great. Then you have Fox and Lansbury. Both are great actors and both become so underused and poorly placed. They should have been the focus but become background. In the novel this is less so as they expose the final truth. The lack of them playing these roles means that even it becomes empty.
I have now seen all of the Blu Ray releases of the Christie films. This was the first one and to be honest the least well pieced together of the group. The extras are nice however. The interviews are superb.
- Interview with writer Barry Sandler
- Interview with Dame Angela Lansbury
- Interview with producer Richard Goodwin
- Behind the scenes stills gallery
- Storyboard gallery