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Miss Marple Aboard The HMS Battledore
The third film of the Margaret Rutherford ‘Miss Marple’ series, ‘Murder Ahoy’ is probably my favourite film out of the collection. Surprisingly though, this is not based on an Agatha Christie book.
It’s actually based on certain ‘motifs’ of Agatha Christie’s work. The film’s credit claims this film to be based on ‘Agatha Christie’s interpretation of Miss Marple, though that claim is somewhat debatable.
In the film, Miss Marple has become a member of a Trust for the rehabilitation of young criminals. During her first meeting with the Trust, a fellow trustee is instantly killed after a return trip to a ship.
Miss Marple notices that the fellow trustee who died has had his snuff poisoned. What’s more, the snuff was stolen from the deceased’s snuff box without anybody noticing it. The lady gets suspicious.
Soon, Miss Marple investigates further as she visits the HMS Battledore ship where the fellow trustee member visited before his sad death. Will the culprit from a gallery of suspects be revealed?
I’ve really become quite taken with these Miss Marple films with Margaret Rutherford. They may not meet Agatha Christie’s approval, but they do at least honour the spirit of the author’s original books.
The film also works as an interesting experiment in telling a story that’s original and not actually based on an Agatha Christie novel. The filmmakers took some artistic licence in developing the story.
Apparently the film is derived from Agatha Christie sources like ‘They Do It With Mirrors’ and ‘The Mousetrap’. The aspects of the movie that highlighted it for me were the sailing ship and the sailors.
I can tell you, I did not know what to expect when I was watching the film. I had no idea who the murderer was throughout the film and I was very surprised and stunned by the villain’s true identity.
I also like how Margaret Rutherford’s version of Miss Marple takes centre stage in these films. I find it better than some other interpretations of Miss Marple in films with the likes of Geraldine McEwan.
I like how Margaret Rutherford’s Marple gets investigative and takes matters into her own hands, despite risking breaking the law. There is even a scene where she conducts a ‘scientific’ experiment.
Stringer Davis returns as Jim Stringer, Miss Marple’s librarian friend. I like how Mr. Stringer gets actively involved in the murder mystery solving with Miss Marple, especially in using a torch at night.
Charles ‘Bud’ Tingwell also returns as Inspector Craddock in this film. It’s amazing how Craddock’s become popular in these films and it is funny when he and the lady clash during their investigations.
Lionel Jeffries stars as Captain Sydney De Courcy Rhumstone in the film. I enjoyed his character. I wasn’t sure whether he was guilty of something. He did not like Miss Marple around aboard his ship.
There are two stars from the BBC sitcom series, ‘All Gas and Gaiters’, in this movie. There’s William Mervyn as Commander Breeze-Connington and also Derek Nimmo as Sub-Lieutenant Eric Humbert.
There’s also Gerald Cross as Lieutenant Commander Dimchurch and Francis Matthews as Lieutenant Compton. There’s Norma Foster as Assistant Matron Shirley Boston who has an affair with someone.
There’s a very young Nicholas Parsons as Dr. Crump in the movie. I found it funny when after checking on a murdered body, he was always in a rush to deliver a baby. What?! Why didn’t he stay?
The film’s climax was very exciting as it features a swordfight between Miss Marple and the murder culprit at the end. Wow! That’s rarely done in a Miss Marple story! I wish it happened more often. 😀
‘Murder Ahoy’ is definitely my favourite out of the four ‘Miss Marple’ films with Margaret Rutherford. I liked the ‘sailing ship and sailors’ atmosphere of the film as well as the twists and turns.
‘Murder Ahoy’ rating – 9/10
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