Murder Most Foul

Murder Most Foul is the third of four Miss Marple films made by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.[1] Loosely based on the novel Mrs McGinty's Dead by Agatha Christie, it stars Margaret Rutherford as Miss Jane Marple, Charles Tingwell as Inspector Craddock, and Stringer Davis (Rutherford's real-life husband) as Mr Stringer.[2] The story is ostensibly based on Christie's novel, but notably changes the action and the characters. Hercule Poirot is replaced by Miss Marple and most of the other characters are not in the novel.[3]

Murder Most Foul
Theatrical release poster by Tom Jung
Directed byGeorge Pollock
Written byAgatha Christie (novel)
Screenplay byDavid Pursall (screenplay)
Jack Seddon
Based onMrs. McGinty's Dead
StarringMargaret Rutherford
Stringer Davis
Ron Moody
Bud Tingwell
Music byRon Goodwin
CinematographyDesmond Dickinson
Edited byErnest Walter
Production
company
Lawrence P. Bachman Production
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
September 1964 (USA)
Running time
90 min/
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish

The film was released in 1964. It was directed by George Pollock and David Pursall is credited with the adaptation. The music is by Ron Goodwin.[4]

The title is a quotation from Hamlet (I.v.27-28), where the Ghost comments about his own death: "Murder most foul as in the best it is/But this most foul, strange and unnatural."

The third film in the MGM series, this was preceded by Murder, She Said and Murder at the Gallop, and followed by Murder Ahoy!, all with Rutherford starring as Miss Marple.[5]

Plot

Margaret McGinty, a barmaid and former actress, is found hanged, and her lodger, Harold Taylor, caught at the scene, seems plainly guilty. Everyone believes it to be an open-and-shut case except for Miss Marple. She is the lone holdout in the jury that tries him, leading to a mistrial.

Despite the disapproval of Inspector Craddock (Charles Tingwell), Miss Marple decides to delve into the case. She poses as a gatherer for a church jumble sale to enter and search Mrs McGinty's home. She finds a newspaper with words cut out and several programmes for a murder mystery play, Murder She Said, recently performed in the town. These clues lead her to suspect that Mrs McGinty was blackmailing a member of the repertory company, the Cosgood Players.

Miss Marple auditions for the Cosgood Players under their actor/manager Driffold Cosgood (Ron Moody). Cosgood is unimpressed by her acting ability, but as she is willing to work for free and mentions that she has independent means he takes her on. Miss Marple knows that she is on the right track when one of the actors, George Rowton (Maurice Good), is poisoned moments later. She secures accommodation in the boarding house in which the cast is staying to further her investigation. Cosgood leaves a copy of his play Remember September in her bedroom for her to read. Narrowly avoiding an attempt to silence her, which claims the life of another actress by mistake, Miss Marple unmasks the killer. Cosgood appeals to her to finance Remember September, but she says "Mr Cosgood, whatever else I am, I am definitely no angel."

Cast

Production

The courthouse seen behind the opening credit "Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Presents" is in the market square of Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire.

The police station to which Miss Marple is taken for questioning by Inspector Craddock and Sergeant Brick, following the death of the actor George Rowton, is on Shady Lane in Watford, Hertfordshire.

The theatre in which the Cosgood Players perform Fly By Nightand where much of the action takes place is the Palace Theatre on Clarendon Road in Watford. At the time of filming the theatre was being run by Jimmy Perry (co-creator of Dad's Army, It Ain't Half Hot Mum and Hi-de-Hi!) and his wife Gilda.

The YMCA where Mr Stringer stays and where Miss Marple meets him in the grounds to discuss her progress in the investigation – supposedly near the Palace Theatre where the Cosgood Players are performing, and their lodging house nearby – is actually Memorial Park in Pinner, in what is now the London Borough of Harrow.

The scene of the murder and associated village scenes were filmed in Sarratt near Rickmansworth in Hertfordshire.

Notes

The title of the first film in the series, Murder She Said, is also the title of the Cosgood Players production that appears on the playbills in the first murder victim's suitcase.

Margaret Rutherford performs a section of the poem "The Shooting of Dan McGrew" by Robert W. Service in the film.[6]

References

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