Murder, She Said (1961) is a murder mystery film directed by George Pollock, based on the novel 4.50 from Paddington by Agatha Christie. The production starred Margaret Rutherford as Miss Marple along with Arthur Kennedy and Muriel Pavlow, and features Rutherford's real life husband Stringer Davis.
While passing by on a different train, Miss Marple witnesses the strangulation of a young woman in the opposite carriage. The local police dismiss her story as the ramblings of a senile and bored old woman, so, undaunted, she conducts her own investigation, and comes to the conclusion that the body must be buried on the grounds of Ackenthorpe Hall, which adjoins the railway line.
Wheedling her way into a job as housemaid there, Marple copes with the pompous machinations of her difficult employer, Luther Ackenthorpe (James Robertson Justice), so she can search for the mysterious corpse, and eventually finds it while supposedly practicing her golf shots.
As she begins collecting suspects, accompanied by her long suffering companion Jim Stringer (Stringer Davis), Miss Marple finds herself faced with an increasingly devious and resourceful killer, who begins casting his shadow over Ackenthorpe's heirs...
Differences from the novelEdit
In Christie's original story, an elderly character called Elspeth McGillicuddy witnessed the murder, not her friend Miss Marple, who wasn't introduced until later. As with most of her appearances in the role, Margaret Rutherford's flamboyant, comical portrayal of the sleuth was quite different from Christie's languid, passive depiction. The tone of the novel was also changed somewhat; instead of Christie's trademark suspense and underlying darkness, the film relied heavily on light, even whimsical comedy of manners.
The name of the manor house where Marple conducts her inquiries was called Rutherford Hall in the novel, and was changed to Ackenthorpe in the film to avoid comparison with the leading actress' surname.
- Margaret Rutherford as Miss Jane Marple
- Arthur Kennedy as Dr. Paul Quimper
- Muriel Pavlow as Emma Ackenthorpe
- James Robertson Justice as Luther Ackenthorpe
- Thorley Walters as Cedric Ackenthorpe
- Bud Tingwell as Inspector Craddock
- Conrad Phillips as Harold Ackenthorpe
- Ronald Howard as Brian Eastley
- Joan Hickson as Mrs. Kidder
- Stringer Davis as Jim Stringer
- Ronnie Raymond as Alexander Eastley
- Gerald Cross as Albert Ackenthorpe
- Michael Golden as Hillman
- Barbara Leake as Mrs. Hilda Stainton
- Gordon Harris as Sergeant Bacon
- Peter Butterworth as Ticket collector
- Richard Briers as "Mrs Binster"
- Lucy Griffiths as Lucy
- Cast notes
- Joan Hickson would later star as Miss Marple in the popular BBC Miss Marple TV series
Despite Christie's dislike of this adaptation, Murder, She Said received a generally positive response from critics, and maintains an 83% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Almar Halfidason, a critic for the BBC film website, awarded the picture four stars out of a possible five, calling it "delightfully dotty" and "fun".