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Miss Marple - 3 Feature Length Mysteries (The Body in the Library / A Murder Is Announced / A Pocketful of Rye)

4.8 out of 5 stars 186 customer reviews

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(Oct 25, 2005)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Miss Marple Murder Mysteries (DVD)

In the hands of Agatha Christie, the murder mystery is like a sonata crossed with a magic trick--an intricate formal structure that depends on ingenious misdirection. On top of that, the movies made from her novels are an opportunity for great British character actors to languish in icydisdain, insinuating glances, arch humor, and trembling suggestions of guilt. This set gathers together three fine BBC productions, starting with The Body in the Library (in which a blond stranger's corpse turns up in a British squire's house), A Murder Is Announced) (in which a supposed parlor game has fatal consequences), and A Pocketful of Rye (in which a nursery rhyme becomes a recipe for a series of poisonings). All star Joan Hickson as Christie's much-loved elderly sleuth, Miss Marple. The way Hickson's eyes light up at the mention of mysterious death makes her seem like a delightfully dotty old ghoul; she hovers at the periphery of investigations, noticing the telling details that police inspectors overlook. The productions lay out plot threads and clues with surgical precision, while the actors play stock characters with exquisite relish.

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Amazon.com

In the hands of Agatha Christie, the murder mystery is like a sonata crossed with a magic trick--an intricate formal structure that depends on ingenious misdirection. On top of that, the movies made from her novels are an opportunity for great British character actors to languish in icy disdain, insinuating glances, arch humor, and trembling suggestions of guilt. This set gathers together three fine BBC productions, starting with The Body in the Library (in which a blond stranger's corpse turns up in a British squire's house), A Murder Is Announced) (in which a supposed parlor game has fatal consequences), and A Pocketful of Rye (in which a nursery rhyme becomes a recipe for a series of poisonings). All star Joan Hickson as Christie's much-loved elderly sleuth, Miss Marple. The way Hickson's eyes light up at the mention of mysterious death makes her seem like a delightfully dotty old ghoul; she hovers at the periphery of investigations, noticing the telling details that police inspectors overlook. The productions lay out plot threads and clues with surgical precision, while the actors play stock characters with exquisite relish. --Bret Fetzer

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Various
  • Directors: Various
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: October 25, 2005
  • Run Time: 421 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (186 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000068UE9
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #24,249 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Miss Marple - 3 Feature Length Mysteries (The Body in the Library / A Murder Is Announced / A Pocketful of Rye)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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My favorite Miss Marple film is BODY IN THE LIBRARY, which is included in this set. First off, unlike for some other reviewers, the films are crisp, no dark multi-gen'd versions on my disks. Re the set appearance itself, quite charming overall, as if one should sit down with coffee, tea or cocoa while perusing. The individual disk decor is lovely, with photos from the particular installment, and the disks contain chaptering of the installments (you can elect to view all three eps on disk 1 & 2 in one go or do it on an individual basis). The real drawback with high irritation factor is the BBC-A ads that appear at the beginning of each disk, you can fast-forward through both, but really they shouldn't be there at all. One point of possible confusion is John Castle, who played Miss Marple's inspector nephew elsewhere is actually an inspector of non-relation in A MURDER IS ANNOUNCED. The introduction of the Inspector Slagg character, who resented Miss Marple's detecting skills, is introduced in BODY IN THE LIBRARY. There is also - on Disk 3 - which contains the two-parter of POCKETFUL OF RYE - a half-hour documentary on the birthplace of Agatha Christie celebrating the centenary of her birth. In this, the Orient Express makes an appearance as well as the actors who played Marple and Poirot (david suchet) appearing in character and meeting each other formally and for the first time.
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By A Customer on January 12, 2003
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Restricting my comments to the quality of the 3-disc release: I was very worried, based on a review published here, that the video quality of this product might be poor. It isn't; in fact, it's very good. I don't know why the reviewer would have complained about this unless his/her copy of the DVD was really as poor as described, which I have to accept that it was. All I can say is, mine isn't. A couple of nights ago, one of our Bay Area PBS channels did re-broadcast one of the 3-part episodes on this disc, and the quality of their print was awful. So, I can tell the difference between grainy and spotty on the one hand, and sharp and clear on the other...it's quite plain on my equipment, which is only average. Unlike the other reviewer's, my discs are quite sharp.
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"You're telling me to look for a Mr. X," says Inspector Craddock (John Castle) to Miss Jane Marple (Joan Hickson) during tea. The inspector had thought he was dealing with a rather straight forward case of murder in the village of Chipping Cleghorn.

"A Mr., Mrs. or Miss X, I should say," replies Miss Marple. She is an old woman who may knit and garden, but she has very sharp eyes. "You know, Inspector," she continues, "some of the best murderers are women, especially in an English village. Turn over a stone and you'll have no idea what will crawl out." Miss Marple takes another sip of tea.

Nor should any murderer underestimate this slightly frail, inquisitive and observant woman, long a resident of the English village of St. Mary Mead, who is given to wearing tweeds and sensible shoes. Miss Marple has a mind as logical as a trap. As she says, "It's very dangerous to believe people. I haven't for years." When murder has been done, those aged eyes see things, especially in the behavior and habits of those around her, which lead to retribution. As played by Joan Hickson, Miss Marple is invariably courteous and very much of the old school when it comes to manners. She may occasionally offer advice, but is remarkably realistic. "Good advice is almost certain to be ignored," she says, "but that's no reason for not giving it." She may take part in a bit of gossip, but almost always she is giving a bit of information in order to get even more back. Hickson's Miss Marple is not without empathy or friends, but she essentially is a person quite satisfied to do her gardening. She does not twinkle.
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... so you'd think," retired Scotland Yard chief Sir Henry Clithering (Raymond Francis) says when describing St. Mary Mead's best-known inhabitant to his friend, wealthy paraplegic Conway Jefferson in the first adaptation of a Miss Marple mystery, "The Body in the Library." "Yet," Sir Henry continues, "her mind has plumbed the depths of human iniquity, and taken all in a day's work." And Vicar Clement, the narrator of Agatha Christie's first Miss Marple story, 1930's "Murder at the Vicarage," couldn't agree more: "Miss Marple is a white-haired old lady with a gentle, appealing manner - Miss Wetherby is a mixture of vinegar and gush. Of the two Miss Marple is the more dangerous," he observes on one occasion.

The BBC's 1980s adaptations of Christie's twelve Miss Marple novels quickly established Joan Hickson as the quintessential Jane Marple, even in the view of the grandmother (or rather, grand-aunt) of all village sleuths and "noticing kinds of persons"'s creator, Dame Agatha herself. (After seeing Hickson in an adaptation of her "Appointment With Death," as early as 1946 Christie reportedly sent her a note expressing the hope she would "play my dear Miss Marple.") Prior versions, partly involving rather high-octane casts, had seen as Miss Marple, inter alia, Angela Lansbury and Margaret Rutherford, but had been less faithful to Christie's books.
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