Joan Hickson is the epitome of Agatha Christie's spinster sleuth in this DVD boxed set of nine Miss Marple movies from British television. "Little grey-haired cobra," mutters Detective Inspector Slack (David Horovitch), the hard-slogging policeman who finds himself humbled, again and again, by the frail woman's shrewd insight and dogged determination. Whether on a tropical island, in a grand hotel, or on a bus tour of historic sites, Miss Marple never fails to uncover the buried secrets, illicit affairs, tangled finances, and boorish Americans that abound in Agatha Christie's mysteries. Hickson is said to be Christie's own choice for the role (though when Christie told her this, Hickson was taken aback, as she was still fairly young at the time), and it's easy to see why: Hickson is physically unassuming, a perfect village busybody, yet her eyes contain a constant flicker of curiosity and keen intelligence.
This set includes all but three of Hickson's outings as Miss Marple: A Caribbean Mystery, in which an old bore's death on an island resort sets the plot in motion; The Mirror Crack'd From Side to Side, which features an aging movie star and sumptuous marble bathrooms; in 4:50 from Paddington, the launch of Sputnik is accompanied by a strangling on a train; The Moving Finger begins with poison pen letters, but poison and bludgeonings soon follow; At Bertram's Hotel is one of the most unusual stories, as murder doesn't happen until more than 3/4 of the movie has unfolded, and the ending features a dynamic rooftop chase; Murder at the Vicarage, a definitive village mystery which finds Miss Marple solving a killing on her home turf; Nemesis, in which a wealthy old friend of Miss Marple's orchestrates, after his own death, the investigation of a murder long gone cold; Sleeping Murder, one of the best, starts out as more of a ghost story than a mystery and culminates in genuine suspense; and They Do It With Mirrors, in which misdirection--the cunning art upon which any murder mystery depends--is part of the plot itself.
There are a few famous names sprinkled among the casts (among them Donald Pleasance, Halloween, Jean Simmons, Spartacus, and Joan Greenwood, The Importance of Being Earnest, who has one of the most wonderful voices in the history of British cinema), but these BBC dramas depend mostly on solid, enjoyable character actors--actors much like Hickson herself, who labored for decades in bit parts before finding her plum role. The compression necessary to turn a book into a movie sometimes makes sussing out the murderer simpler, but fans of the genre will still be delighted by Miss Marple's perceptive investigations. --Bret Fetzer
Return to post-war England for mystery and a cup of tea with Agatha Christie's most popular creation. The consummate prim and proper crime-fighting spinster, Miss Jane Marple sets down her knitting needles to unwind the most ingenious crimes. As she travels from city to countryside and even the Bahamas, murders, missing bodies and haunted dreams have a habit of falling across Miss Marple's path - which is precisely when, "tail up and head down," the beloved aunt and godmother goes into action.
Digitally re-mastered and faithfully adapted from Agatha Christie's best-selling novels, THE CLASSIC MYSTERIES COLLECTION features Joan Hickson (Christie's personal choice to play the spinster sleuth) in over fifteen hours of suspense, misdirection, rich period detail, and the cleverest solutions imaginable.
- Agatha Christie Biography
- Joan Hickson Biography/Filmography
- Miss Marple Biography
- Complete Index of all Miss Marple Stories
- Interactive Menus
- Scene Selection