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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great DVD collection!
Every once in a while, an actor comes along who not only plays the role of Sherlock Holmes, but actually redefines the role. Well, this has now happened with Agatha Christie's detective, Miss Marple! In 1984, veteran actress Joan Hickson (1906-98) was tapped to play Miss Marple, and the rest, as they say, is history.
This is a great DVD collection, containing...
Published on 2 Feb. 2006 by Kurt A. Johnson

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1.0 out of 5 stars 'Miss Marple Murder Mysteries'
Our review is somewhat arbitrary because, being an American import, [why?], we have unable to view them on our DVD player. Can anyone advise differently?
Published 21 months ago by alan james


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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great DVD collection!, 2 Feb. 2006
By 
Kurt A. Johnson (North-Central Illinois, USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Miss Marple Murder Mysteries [DVD] [1983] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
Every once in a while, an actor comes along who not only plays the role of Sherlock Holmes, but actually redefines the role. Well, this has now happened with Agatha Christie's detective, Miss Marple! In 1984, veteran actress Joan Hickson (1906-98) was tapped to play Miss Marple, and the rest, as they say, is history.
This is a great DVD collection, containing three of the excellent Joan Hickson/Miss Marple episodes, each of which is a great small-screen adaptation of Agatha Christie's excellent book of the same name. If you are a fan of great mysteries, then this is for you. Heck, even if you just like high-quality British drama, then you will love these movies. I love this DVD set, and give it my highest recommendations!
The three episodes are:
The Body in the Library - Episode #1, 1984 - When the body of a murdered young woman is found in their library, the Bantry's bring in their old friend, Jane Marple. There's a mystery within a mystery here: who is the murdered girl, and how did she get from where she was last seen to the Bantry's library?
A Murder is Announced - Episode #2, 1985 - When a personal item in the Chipping Cleghorne Gazette invites people to a murder at the home of Miss Blacklock, they show up to be part of a real murder! The police are baffled as to what happened and why, and that leaves only one person who can unravel this mystery - Miss Jane Marple!
A Pocketful of Rye - Episode #3, 1985 - When a rich man dies under very mysterious circumstances, Miss Marple quickly realizes that more murders are sure to follow. This is a very deep mystery, and only Jane Marple can find out what is really going on and why!
By the way, as an added bonus, this set contains "Crime Does Pay," a 1990 episode of the British television show Western Approach. On September 15, 1890, the city of Torquay threw a celebration of the 100th birthday of their favorite citizen, the late Agatha Christie. This show is an interesting salute to Dame Agatha, and focuses on her life, her work, and her legacy.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Never underestimate Miss Marple. She's not afraid to turn over a stone or two, 10 Aug. 2007
By 
C. O. DeRiemer (San Antonio, Texas, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Miss Marple Murder Mysteries [DVD] [1983] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
"You're telling me to look for a Mr. X," says Inspector Craddock (John Castle) to Miss Jane Marple (Joan Hickson) during tea. The inspector had thought he was dealing with a rather straight forward case of murder in the village of Chipping Cleghorn.

"A Mr., Mrs. or Miss X, I should say," replies Miss Marple. She is an old woman who may knit and garden, but she has very sharp eyes. "You know, Inspector," she continues, "some of the best murderers are women, especially in an English village. Turn over a stone and you'll have no idea what will crawl out." Miss Marple takes another sip of tea.

Nor should any murderer underestimate this slightly frail, inquisitive and observant woman, long a resident of the English village of St. Mary Mead, who is given to wearing tweeds and sensible shoes. Miss Marple has a mind as logical as a trap. As she says, "It's very dangerous to believe people. I haven't for years." When murder has been done, those aged eyes see things, especially in the behavior and habits of those around her, which lead to retribution. As played by Joan Hickson, Miss Marple is invariably courteous and very much of the old school when it comes to manners. She may occasionally offer advice, but is remarkably realistic. "Good advice is almost certain to be ignored," she says, "but that's no reason for not giving it." She may take part in a bit of gossip, but almost always she is giving a bit of information in order to get even more back. Hickson's Miss Marple is not without empathy or friends, but she essentially is a person quite satisfied to do her gardening. She does not twinkle.

In A Murder Is Announced (1985), one of three feature-length made-for-TV movies in this collection, Miss Marple finds herself dealing with an almost intractably clever series of murders set in the picture-perfect village of Chipping Cleghorn, all driven by a family relationship that goes back a generation. The mystery is complex, the motives selfish, the manners of the characters are all genteel, and the bodies pile up. The murderer is singularly ruthless.

With The Body in the Library (1984), Miss Marple finds herself with a seemingly anonymous body found in the library of Gossington Hall, stately home of the stately Colonel and Mrs. Bantry.

And with A Pocketful of Rye (1985), Miss Marple finds that with the Fortescue family, she will need all her powers of observation to sort through the many motives of envy, greed, resentment and longing.

Joan Hickson is a marvel as Jane Marple. Many have played the character, usually with distinction, but Hickson has set the bar extremely high. As good as the others have been and are, she still is the best. Lending great support in these three movies are a wide range of superior British actors. In addition to John Castle, some others who show up in the three stories include such favorites as Renee Asherson, Joan Sims, Moray Watson, Tom Wilkinson, Ursula Howells, Peter Davison, Joyce Carey and so many more.

Each mystery runs about 2 hours and 40 minutes. The DVD transfers could have been better; they have the quality of a mid-range VHS tape, not good but not too bad. Regardless of the quality, if you enjoy mysteries with complex plots, fine acting, good manners and featuring a relentless solver of murders, these Miss Marple movies are the real thing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "There she sits: an elderly spinster; sweet, placid ..., 8 Sept. 2006
By 
Themis-Athena (from somewhere between California and Germany) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Miss Marple Murder Mysteries [DVD] [1983] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
... so you'd think," retired Scotland Yard chief Sir Henry Clithering (Raymond Francis) says when describing St. Mary Mead's best-known inhabitant to his friend, wealthy paraplegic Conway Jefferson in the first adaptation of a Miss Marple mystery, "The Body in the Library." "Yet," Sir Henry continues, "her mind has plumbed the depths of human iniquity, and taken all in a day's work." And Vicar Clement, the narrator of Agatha Christie's first Miss Marple story, 1930's "Murder at the Vicarage," couldn't agree more: "Miss Marple is a white-haired old lady with a gentle, appealing manner - Miss Wetherby is a mixture of vinegar and gush. Of the two Miss Marple is the more dangerous," he observes on one occasion.

The BBC's 1980s adaptations of Christie's twelve Miss Marple novels quickly established Joan Hickson as the quintessential Jane Marple, even in the view of the grandmother (or rather, grand-aunt) of all village sleuths and "noticing kinds of persons"'s creator, Dame Agatha herself. (After seeing Hickson in an adaptation of her "Appointment With Death," as early as 1946 Christie reportedly sent her a note expressing the hope she would "play my dear Miss Marple.") Prior versions, partly involving rather high-octane casts, had seen as Miss Marple, inter alia, Angela Lansbury and Margaret Rutherford, but had been less faithful to Christie's books. While Lansbury holds her own fairly well when compared to the character's literary original in 1980's "Hollywood does Christie" adaptation of "The Mirror Crack'd" (and that movie's ageing actresses' showdown featuring Elizabeth Taylor and Kim Novak is a delight to watch) the four movies starring Rutherford are only loosely based on Christie's books: Dame Margaret's Miss Marple, although itself likewise a splendid performance, has about as much to do with Agatha Christie's demure, seemingly scatterbrained village sleuth as Big Ben does with the English countryside, and of the scripts, only "Murder, She Said" is an adaptation of a Miss Marple mystery ("4:50 From Paddington"), whereas two of the others -- "Murder at the Gallop" and "Murder Most Foul" -- are actually Hercule Poirot stories ("After the Funeral" and "Mrs. McGinty's Dead," respectively), and "Murder Ahoy" is based on a completely independent screenplay.

Following the rule that ever since Sherlock Holmes and Inspector Lestrade every great private detective needs a policeman he can outwit, the creators of the BBC series inserted the character of Milchester C.I.D.'s Inspector Slack (David Horovitch) into almost all storylines -- hardly in keeping with the literary originals, which are set over a period of more than 30 years and thus, exceed the career span of a policeman already advanced on his professional path at the time of his first encounter with Miss Marple; even if the BBC's Slack is promoted from D.I. in "The Body in the Library" (where he really does appear) to Superintendent in the adaptation of "The Mirror Crack'd" (where Miss Marple is actually only joined by Inspector Craddock, not also by Slack). Yet, Hickson's and Horovitch's face-offs are a fun addition; and one is almost ready to pity Slack, who hardly ever gets a foot down vis-a-vis Miss Marple's quick rejoinders and, in the words of Sir Henry Clithering, "wonderful gift to state the obvious" ... and whose "good old-fashioned policework" is found to fall short, again and again, in comparison with Miss Marple's ever-unfailing "village parallels," those seemingly innocuous incidents of village life making up the sum of her knowledge of human nature, to which she routinely turns in unmasking even the cleverest killer.

This set contains the region 1 versions of the BBC's first three adaptations starring Joan Hickson:

"The Body in the Library" (written 1942, BBC 1984): In response to a friend's request, Christie makes a mysterious dead platinum blonde appear in the library of St. Mary Mead squire Colonel Bantry and his wife Dolly, Miss Marple's friend. (The horror! The scandal!) The murderer's trail leads from the Bantrys' Gossington Hall estate to nearby seaside resort Danemouth, when the dead girl is identified as a show dancer who used to work at one of the resort's luxury hotels. But as Mrs. Bantry will come to observe to her surprise in the end, "it all boils down to fingernail clippings and Mozart" ...

"A Murder Is Announced" (written 1950, BBC 1985): It was supposed to be "just a silly joke," that startling anonymous advertisement in Chipping Cleghorn's village gazette -- "A murder is announced and will take place Friday, October the 5th, at Little Paddocks, at 7PM." But then a murder really does occur, and the person found lying dead is the ad's author himself. In determining his connection to Little Paddocks's owner Ms. Blacklog -- his failed holdup's apparent target -- Miss Marple and Inspector Craddock (John Castle) ponder the effects of the post-WWII changes of British village society ... and the vital clue is finally provided by a remarkable cat named Delilah.

"A Pocket Full of Rye" (written 1953, BBC also 1985): A murderer uses an old nursery rhyme in a ghastly game with rich tyrannical Rex Fortescue and his family which soon has police and press speculate about black magic. Miss Marple, however, instantly zeroes in on the nursery rhyme, and finding that she has come too late to save the life of her erstwhile protege, the Fortescues' clumsy, naive maid Gladys, she does not rest until she has found the murderer, whose motive is, alas, nothing but "greed -- one knows that, naturally ..."

The series's remaining episodes (available in a variety of other sets):

"Murder at the Vicarage" (written 1930, BBC 1986; Christie's first Marple story)

"The Moving Finger" (written 1942, BBC 1985)

"They Do It with Mirrors" (written 1952, BBC 1991)

"4:50 From Paddington" (written 1957, BBC 1987; a/k/a "What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw!")

"The Mirror Crack'd" (written 1962, BBC 1992; title taken from Tennyson's "Lady of Shalott")

"At Bertram's Hotel" (written 1965; BBC 1987)

"A Caribbean Mystery" (written 1965, BBC 1989)

"Nemesis" (written 1971, BBC 1987; sequel to the above)

"Sleeping Murder" (written 1976, BBC 1987; Christie's last Miss Marple mystery)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The BBC TV Aunt Jane's turned into movies., 16 April 2005
By 
bernie "xyzzy" (Arlington, Texas) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Miss Marple Murder Mysteries [DVD] [1983] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
"Body in the Library"

Mrs. Dolly Bantry (Gwen Watford) tries to inform her husband of the reported body and is accused of imagining the report due to reading trashy books in bead at night. As usual Jane is always in the right place to view the potential suspects. Clues are everywhere yet who would mix body's and books?

Speaking about night I would not start this film to late, as it seems to go on forever at 151 minutes. As it was a made for TV (1984), I suspect that this movie is a composite of a series. And there are places where it takes leaps to different situations with out any transition. You can guess the plot in general but the details are surprising. It is wrapped up so quickly that you will need to run the ending a few times to put it all in perspective

"A Murder is Announced"

A man dies in Chipping Kleghorn under mysterious circumstances and suddenly Aunt Jane is coming to stay. As with most Agatha Christie's movies, everybody and nobody could have done it. Miss Jane Marple is the catalyst that helps Inspector Craddock (John Castle) and others to view the situation differently and extrapolate the "who" that done it.

It is interesting that the inspector in some movies, is related to Jane and in other movies not. Inspector Craddock here is interesting as he is polite and tolerant of the people he is interrogating.

It is fun to try and match the real names of the actors with the part that they are playing. Would you suspect that Hannah is (Elaine Ives-Cameron)? Or that Miss Hinchcliffe is (Paola Dionisotti)?

Anyway keep your eyes open, as there is not a wasted movement or word in this movie.

"A Pocket Full of Rye"

Rex Fortescue is out of character as he arrives at is office. You immediately know something is wrong because this is England and Rex has ordered his tea much too early. Yep mean old nasty Rex is found dead. Thorough detectives have determined that there was some mysterious grain in his pocket. If you remember the nursery rime you can follow the story. So how does Jane become involved? She trained the maid and is afraid for her safety. Naturally at several places in the mystery Miss Marple (Joan Hickson) points out the obvious to Det. Sergeant Hay (Jon Glover) who realizes and corrects the error of not listening to her.

There is only one repugnant scene where you have to watch Rex eat. Other than that it is a thoroughly enjoyable mystery.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A nice package, 21 July 2012
By 
downkiddie "downkiddie" (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Miss Marple Murder Mysteries [DVD] [1983] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
This American region-1, NTSC-standard collection brings three early Miss Marple serials from the BBC production; The Body In The Library, A Murder Is Announced and A Pocketful of Rye. The very high quality of all the Joan Hickson Miss Marple adaptations is well known. The charming production, often imbued with a little humour and always warm and beautiful to look at had as its star a superb Miss Marple, indeed Agatha Christie's own choice for the role. These three serials, presented as they were broadcast in two or three episodes each are no exception.

Of most interest to fans in the UK (seeing as the complete box set is available on Region 2 PAL DVD) is the bonus feature, a BBC South West regional show from the 90s called "Western Approach", a local interest magazine. This particular episode centres on the celebrations in Torquay to mark the centenary of Agatha Christie's birth. Made to the standard of any other local TV programme from 1990, it nevertheless is a fascinating half-hour for anyone who loves Christie or the fine south Devon town itself. We're treated to interviews with David Suchet, Joan Hickson (a rarity itself) and the moment when Poirot (Suchet) got off the Orient Express at Torquay station and presented Miss Marple (Hickson) with a bouquet of flowers. This is still something the English Riviera Tourist Board mention in their "Agatha Christie Mile", a self-guided walking tour of Torquay. The town itself looks particuarly nice in the September sunshine, more than can be said for the fashions and amdram crime weekend over-acting!

Picture quality is supposedly remastered on the three serials, though it's a little disappointing throughout. Anyone who has the UK box set will already have everything apart from the bonus feature, which may or may not be reason enough for a real Marple fan to buy it. If the price is right it's worth a go.
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1.0 out of 5 stars 'Miss Marple Murder Mysteries', 30 July 2013
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This review is from: Miss Marple Murder Mysteries [DVD] [1983] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
Our review is somewhat arbitrary because, being an American import, [why?], we have unable to view them on our DVD player. Can anyone advise differently?
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