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Helen Hayes as Miss Marple

Film Review: “Murder with Mirrors” (1985)

with Helen Hayes (Miss Jane Marple), Bette Davis (Carrie Louise Serrocold), John Mills (Lewis Serrocold), Leo McKern (Inspector Curry)

written by George Eckstein

directed by Dick Lowry

“I think not being killed raises one’s spirits.”

— Miss Marple

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And so, more than twenty years after he began in the role, David Suchet returns for four more Poirot films: Three Act Tragedy, The Clocks, Hallowe’en Party and Murder on the Orient Express. Below, I’ll look at each of them in detail, as well as considering the dramatic evolution of the series. Tomorrow, I’ll mull through some hopes and prayers for the program’s final series, which is currently in the midst of negotiation. (Update: as of January 2012, the series has been renewed.)

(For previous posts, see: series 1 – 6, series 7 – 8, series 9, series 10 – 11).

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2. Five Little Pigs  (1942)

Hercule Poirot #23

Poirot reads five different accounts of the same long-forgotten murder, uncovering an intricate crime, and the devastating effect it had on the lives of those involved.

It’s hard work discerning between entrants at the very top of my Christie rankings. Every novel in the Top Ten could conceivably be someone’s favourite. But Five Little Pigs is – for my money – Hercule Poirot’s best outing, and Christie’s most mature novel. (Yes, I know it’s only number two, but we’ll get to that…)

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Well, after only ten episodes and one film, Partners in Crime comes to an end. Fair enough: there were only a few short stories and the three later novels (set many years later) remaining, but it’s still hard to say farewell…

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Well, after three years of lovely Marple stories, Geraldine McEwan retired (quite understandably), passing the torch to renowned theatre and television actress Julia McKenzie. I’d only heard some grumblings about “these new Marples” before I started this project, so I was very intrigued to leave rumour behind and make up my own mind. And you know what? Much like this overhyped nonsense about every episode of this series featuring anachronistically gallivanting lesbians, any qualms about McKenzie are complete tosh. After some initial trepidation, I think she serves the role admirably.

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After two big-budget, all-star Poirot films, Peter Ustinov‘s series took an unexpected turn into that dreaded genre: the TV movie. And, as if that wasn’t enough, it also helpfully shifts the entire tone and chronology of the films, for good measure! Today, I’ll be looking at the next two films in Ustinov’s Poirot sextet:

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Agatha Christie’s Endless Night is one of her most intriguing works – whether you like the novel or not, there’s something undeniably haunting and adult about her tale of the tragic young couple, and in the growing sense of unease that surrounds their new home, Gypsy’s Acre. With its youthful protagonists and non-formulaic structure, it’s no surprise that the novel was filmed just four years after its release, and in the early 1970s at that.

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