Directed by veyeran UK filmmaker Roy Boulting, this made-for-TV Miss Marple movie is an engrossing mystery that lacks for neither suspects nor bleak English country color.
Vicar's wife Maud Calthrop (Dilys Hamlett) calls upon old friend Jane Marple (Joan Hickson) when her community is plagued by hate mail. Although the village looks picturesque and benign, its serene beauty belies the forbidden longings of its residents. Spinsterish Eryl Griffith (Sandra Payne), who toils at
the office of her brother, Dr. Owen Griffith (Martin Fisk), pines for married attorney Edward Symington (Michael Culver). Ostensibly content with his socially prominent wife, Angela (Elizabeth Counsell), Symington lusts after his
children's nanny, Elsie Holland (Imogen Pickford-Smith). High-strung Angela resents the presence of Megan (Deborah Appleby), her tomboyish adult daughter from a previous marriage; Megan's gracelessness is a blot on Angela's public image. Although any of these locals could have penned the accusatory letters, suspicion rests on newcomers Gerry Burton (Andrew Bicknell) and his beautiful sister, Joanna (Sabina Franklyn). Wounded while serving as a test pilot,
Burton could be dealing with his convalescence by bombarding the village with muckraking correspondence. Fair-minded Miss Marple rules out no-one, especially after crank letter writing escalates to murder. Someone arranges Angela's demise so it looks like a suicide, precipitated by a revelation in a letter she received; the slayer also dispatches a maid who's in the wrong place at the wrong time. Although the police arrest jealous Eryl for sending a poison pen letter to Elsie, Miss Marple suspects that Eryl acted impulsively on this one occasion. The real killer may have started the poison pen campaign to camouflage Angela's murder, which was his or her real aim all long.
Screenwriter Julia Jones, who adapted Agatha Christie's novel, is able to keep the suspense going until the denouement, because practically every character has a skeleton in the closet. With a nod to Henri-Georges Clouzot's LE CORBEAU (1943), Christie exposes small town hypocrisy with surgical precision.
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- Released: 1984
- Rating: NR
- Review: Directed by veyeran UK filmmaker Roy Boulting, this made-for-TV Miss Marple movie is an engrossing mystery that lacks for neither suspects nor bleak English country color. Vicar's wife Maud Calthrop (Dilys Hamlett) calls upon old friend Jane Marple (Joa… (more)