Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5.
United Kingdom, 1980. G.W. Films, EMI Films. Screenplay by Jonathan Hales, Barry Sandler, based on the novel The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side by Agatha Christie. Cinematography by Christopher Challis. Produced by John Brabourne, Richard B. Goodwin. Music by John Cameron. Production Design by Michael Stringer. Costume Design by Phyllis Dalton. Film Editing by Richard Marden.
Critics have often been unkind to this workmanlike adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple mystery, but I think it’s a fun diversion that is pepped up by its cast of Hollywood stars. Marple’s tiny little hamlet of a town is thrown into a tizzy when it is announced that a Hollywood movie about Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots will be filmed among them, with two fantastic, aging movie queens (Elizabeth Taylor and Kim Novak) playing the leads. It is not long after the ladies come to town that a murder is attempted on Taylor that accidentally kills a local woman attending a reception for the movie stars. Taylor is terrified of whomever it is that is trying to bump her off, but this isn’t nearly as dramatic a confrontation as the ones she enjoys with bitter rival Novak. These two superstars have a whole lot of fun playing off each other, while Angela Lansbury does a terrific turn as the nosy Miss Marple, who always gets her man in the end. Tony Curtis, Geraldine Chaplin and Rock Hudson co-star in a film that may not be all that polished but is certainly entertaining, with Taylor doing an especially good job of lighting up the screen (watch the sudden change of expression on her face when she delivers her “someone is trying to kill me” monologue, it’s terrific).