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When Mrs McGinty, a barmaid, is found hanged with her lodger fiddling
about with her rope, it seems a clear case of murder with the lodger as
the culprit - for everyone but Miss Marple (Margaret Rutherford) that
is, who sits in the jury, thus cusing a re-trial at a later date. &
until that date, Miss Marple - with the help of Mr.Stinger
(Stringer Davis) decides to take up investigations of her own.
clues soon reveal Mrs McGinty as a blackmailer with relations to
Cossgood's (Ron Moody) theatre company, where Miss Marple soon succeeds
to get hired to work undercover - & not a moment too soon it seems,
since as soon as she has the job, another stiff, George (Maurice Good),
turns up, poisoned.
The rest of the actors seem a pretty weird bunch
too, including Ralph (Ralph Michael), an aging actor definitely past his
prime but still chasing after every barmaid in town, his jealous wife
Maureen (Pauline Jameson), Sheila Upward (Francesca Annis), the daughter
of a rich family, & her fieancé Bill (James Bolam), or weird girl
Eva (Alison Seebohm), who thinks she has premonitions & was madly in
love with the dead George, among others.
Soon Miss Marple has pieced a
puzzle together, that includes an actress, who once starred in a play by
Cossgood, but later killed her husband & herself over a decade ago.
Her offspring (male or female nobody knows) though was brought up by the
deceased Mrs McGinty ... so could the offspring be the killer of his
adoptive mother ? Or a former lover of the homicidal/suicidal actress ?
Miss Marple - after antoher killing - decides to set up a trap for the
killer, luring him to kill her, at the premiere of the newest play of
the company - a murder mystery with Miss Marple as detective - & she
almost catches the wrong person, Eva, who holds Miss Marple to be
responsible for George's death, before the trap finally springs on Bill,
who desperately needs to marry rich girl Sheila, which is why he couldn'
afford for anyone to know he had a homicidal & suicidal mother,
which was what Mrs McGinty blackmailed him with. Of course, in the right
moment, Miss Marple's trusted friend inspector Craddock (Charles 'Bud'
Tingwell) can interfere & arrest Bill ...
As usual with
the Margaret Rutherford/Miss Marple-series, this movie has little to do
with Agatha Christie, & the murder mystery & especially the
solution are at best remotely convincing, but it is so beautifully &
humourously played (though not by far as comedic as Murder
Ahoy, the next entry in the series), with a carefully selected
cast of British eccentrics in the key roles (including such seemingly
unimportant supporting roles as Dennis Price as a theatrical agent &
Andrew Cruckshank as judge) that one would be hard pressed not to like