12 September 2005 | jamesraeburn2003
"Admirable light-hearted mystery."
This is the third entry in MGM's quintet of Miss Marple whodunits starring Rutherford as the eccentric yet highly intelligent spinster detective who time and time again has proved herself more competent than the investigating police even though she is only armed with her knowledge of crime detective novels.
In this feature, Miss Marple is on jury service at the trial of a young man called Howard Taylor whom is accused of killing his landlady Mrs McGinty for her savings. All members of the jury are convinced of Taylor's guilt except Miss Marple. As a result they are unable to say if Taylor is guilty or not guilty and the trial has to be postponed until a later date. This gives Miss Marple the breathing space she needs to find the real killer. The trail leads her to discover that Mrs McGinty was a blackmailer and that she was blackmailing a member of "The Cosgood Players", which is run by the bungling playwright and director Driffold Cosgood (RON MOODY). She manages to secure a place in the company following an unlikely rendition of Robert W. Service's poem "The Shooting Of Dan McGrew" and she is now able to investigate her fellow actors. Two more murders follow within the company before Miss Marple is able to lay a trap for the killer. As usual the hapless Chief Inspector Craddock (CHARLES TINGWELL) resents her interference but as usual she comes out on top even though Craddock is promoted to Chief Inspector for his work on the case but it was Miss Marple who solved it for him!
All in all, MURDER MOST FOUL (adapted loosely from Agatha Christie's 1952 publication Mrs McGinty's Dead in which Hercule Poirot solved the case), has all the comedy delight and charm of its two predecessors, which made the series so popular. Director George Pollock who by now had proved that he was a very efficient craftsman effortlessly blends the humor with mystery and one isn't allowed to overlap the other - something that has ruined mystery films in the past. In fact, I would say that this was his best ever film as a director. Rutherford plays Miss Marple with a great deal of authority and as always she steals the show. But Ron Moody as Cosgood, Tingwell as Craddock and Stringer Davies (Rutherford's real life husband) as her trusty sidekick Mr Stringer all deserve good notices as does composer Ron Goodwin, director Pollock and cinematographer Desmond Dickinson whose black and white camera-work lends the production a considerable atmosphere of the mysterious.