Agatha Christie: Marple 4.01 A Pocket Full of Rye (2009, Mystery TV) – 5/10 review

Julia McKenzie: Miss Marple
Writer (Original Novel): Agatha Christie
Helen Baxendale: Mary Dove
Joseph Beattie: Vivian Dubois
Ken Campbell: Crump
Lucy Cohu: Pat Fortescue
Kenneth Cranham: Rex Fortescue
Rupert Graves: Lance Fortescue
Ralf Little: Sergeant Pickford
Matthew Macfadyen: Inspector Neele
Anna Madeley: Adele Fortescue
Ben Miles: Percival Fortescue
Hattie Morahan: Elaine Fortescue
Wendy Richard: Mrs Crump
Edward Tudor Pole: Professor Bernsdorrf
Liz White: Jennifer Fortescue
Prunella Scales: Mrs Mackenzie
Writer (Screenplay): Kevin Elyot
Producer: Karen Thrussell
Director: Charles Palmer
In Memory Of 1941 to 2008: Ken Campbell
In Memory Of 1943 to 2009: Wendy Richard

Agatha Christie: Marple 4.01 Pocket Full of Rye, A (2009)

Unloved patriarch and odious businessman-losing-his-touch Rex Fortescue dies drinking his morning tea while alone in his office. He’s been poisoned but, even more unusually, his pocket is full of rye.

5/10

This whodunit has a brilliant intrigue (why does a dead man have a pocketful of the eponymous rye?) and a mystery where, as is ideal, all the clues can be clearly presented visually without giving the game away. Sadly, new Marple Julia Mckenzie doesn’t sound like an old lady and doesn’t have much of a reason to be where she is most of the time but she does look the part. The critical problem, though, is the same as all the ITV Christie stuff for years: no atmosphere, no fun and no humanity. In place of genuine atmosphere, it’s photographed in a permanent haze. The clumsy director also clearly isn’t interested in character and performance and spends his time impressing himself with flashbacks and different but boring composition. It’s quite well paced but when you’re expecting it to wrap things up, there’s still another ad-break to go.

This Agatha Christie: Marple episode contains unpleasant scenes, violence and mild sexuality.

Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple s02e03,04 At Bertram’s Hotel (1986,) – 8/10 murder mystery TV review

AmazonBuy At Bertram’s Hotel at Amazon

Cast / crew
Novel Writer: Agatha Christie
Screenplay Writer: Jill Hyem
Director: Mary McMurray
Joan Hickson: Miss Marple
Producer: George Gallaccio

Miss Marple, Agatha Christie’s 2.03,04 At Bertram’s Hotel (1986)

Miss Marple is thrilled to be going to stay as Bertram’s Hotel, a little bit of England as it used to be but when she arrives, a glamorous female pioneer is dominating proceedings and Marple senses a sinister undercurrent.

8/10

Though the only murder in this adaptation occurs a few minutes before the end, the atmosphere and dotty characters are so splendid that it almost covers the lack of dead people. The wonderful Joan Hickson is backed by Joan Greenwood as a delightfully gossipy friend (she still has that magnificently husky voice) and Preston Lockwood as a spectacularly absent-minded cleric. And while the viewer will certainly have bits and pieces solved before the reveal, Marple still has the final touches up her sleeve. Special delight is reserved for the line "I’m dying to see ITV. I hear it’s ghastly." (For non-British viewers, this programme was created by Britain’s public broadcaster BBC and ITV is the name of the country’s first and principal commercial television broadcaster.)

This Miss Marple, Agatha Christie’s episode contains a mild swear word, mild adult dialogue, Mild unpleasant scenes

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

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Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple in A Caribbean Mystery (1989) – 7/10 murder mystery TV review

AmazonBuy A Caribbean Mystery at Amazon

Cast / crew
Novel Writer: Agatha Christie
Screenplay Writer: T.R. Bowen
Director: Christopher Petit
Joan Hickson: Miss Marple
Donald Pleasence: Jason Rafiel
T.P. McKenna: Dr. Grahame
Frank Middlemass: Major Palgrave
Producer: George Gallaccio

Miss Marple, Agatha Christie’s A Caribbean Mystery (1989)

After an illness, Jane Marple’s nephew sends her off on a Caribbean holiday but the death of an old Major with endless stories about his time as a hunter, military and police man doesn’t sit quite right. Miss Marple immediately connects his story involving “the picture of a killer” in his wallet with his unexpected demise but fears that the local authorities will pay no attention to her. Enter Jason Rafiel (“Oi! Miss Marple!”): a rude, obnoxious and immensely wealthy wheelchair-bound man who may be able to put a word in the right ear.

7/10

Coming after a three year gap, we finally get to find out why old dead codger Jason Rafiel got Miss Marple to investigate the suspicious death in Nemesis as he runs into the woman with “a mind like a bacon slicer” on a Caribbean holiday. Hickson is perfect as Marple, Donald Pleasence is stroppy fun as Rafiel (“Don’t start knitting on me”) and the mystery and identity of the murderer is explained in the first ten minutes without the audience realising it. The music is clumsier than usual and the first half is a tad slow but this is a solid adaptation of a decent mystery.

This Miss Marple, Agatha Christie’s episode contains adult dialogue, mild swear word, Gory and unpleasant scenes

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Links

Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple in They Do It With Mirrors (1991) – 8/10 murder mystery TV review

AmazonBuy They Do It With Mirrors at Amazon

Cast / crew
Novel Writer: Agatha Christie
Screenplay Writer: T.R. Bowen
Director: Norman Stone
Joan Hickson: Miss Marple
Jean Simmons: Carrie-Louise Serrocold
Joss Ackland: Lewis Serrocold
Faith Brook: Ruth van Rydock
Gillian Barge: Mildred Strete
David Horovitch: Chief Inspector Slack
Producer: George Gallaccio

Miss Marple, Agatha Christie’s They Do It With Mirrors (1991)

Miss Marple is asked to go and visit someone an old friend, Carrie-Louise Serrocold, but it’s not just to catch up: Carrie-Louise’s life is thought to be in danger. Within a couple of days, a murder is committed.

8/10

Entertaining and atmospheric murder mystery which has plenty to delight, not least, of course, Joan Hickson as the perfect Miss Marple and her interactions with David Horovitch as the impressively irritable Chief Inspector Slack. However, the critical scene (in the sitting room listening to the goings-on in the study) is fluffed by the director making the identity of the murderer rather more obvious than it should be and the novel’s tricky climax is weakly handled (it should be tragic; here it’s a bit silly). Still, the atmosphere is superb. Joss Ackland is surprisingly good as we are sadly used to seeing him as a bellowing, eye-rolling villain. Naturally, Joan Hickson as Miss Marple (in her penultimate performance) is, as usual, outstanding. Has any part ever been more perfectly cast?

This Miss Marple, Agatha Christie’s episode contains , Strong violence, unpleasant scenes

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Links