Murder Most Foul
Murder Most Foul is the third of four Miss Marple films made by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. 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. 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.
|Murder Most Foul|
Theatrical release poster by Tom Jung
|Directed by||George Pollock|
|Written by||Agatha Christie (novel)|
|Screenplay by||David Pursall (screenplay)|
|Based on||Mrs. McGinty's Dead|
|Music by||Ron Goodwin|
|Edited by||Ernest Walter|
Lawrence P. Bachman Production
|September 1964 (USA)|
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."
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."
- Margaret Rutherford — Miss Jane Marple
- Ron Moody — H. Driffold Cosgood
- Bud Tingwell — Inspector Craddock
- Andrew Cruickshank (credited as "Andrew Cruikshank") — Justice Crosby
- Megs Jenkins — Gladys Thomas, Mrs McGinty's sister
- Dennis Price — Harris Tumbrill, a theatrical agent
- Ralph Michael — Ralph Summers, a philandering former matinee idol
- James Bolam — Bill Hanson, an actor
- Stringer Davis — Jim Stringer
- Francesca Annis — Sheila Upward, an actress and heiress engaged to Bill Hanson
- Alison Seebohm — Eva McGonigall, a premonition-prone actress, recently broken up with George Rowton
- Terry Scott — Police Constable Wells
- Pauline Jameson — Maureen Summers, Ralph's wife
- Maurice Good — George Rowton
- Annette Kerr — Dorothy, an actress and murder victim
- Windsor Davies — Sergeant Brick
- Neil Stacy (as "Neil Stacey") — Arthur
- Stella Tanner — Flory, the landlady
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 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.
- Hal Erickson. "Murder Most Foul (1964) - George Pollock - Synopsis, Characteristics, Moods, Themes and Related - AllMovie". AllMovie.
- "Murder Most Foul (1964)". BFI.
- "Murder Most Foul (1965) - Articles - TCM.com". Turner Classic Movies.
- "Murder Most Foul (1965) - Music - TCM.com". Turner Classic Movies.
- "Murder She Said (1961) - Articles - TCM.com". Turner Classic Movies.
- "Robert W. Service (1874-1958) Poet & Adventurer: Miss Marple "Murder Most Foul"".