Movie Review: Murder, She Said (1961)

Synopsis: While traveling by train, Jane Marple witnesses a woman being strangled to death in another train. Police are unable to find a body and assume the elderly Marple was just imagining things. Determined to prove she wasn't senile, she conducts her own investigation and, believing the woman's body is hidden on the grounds of Ackenthorpe Hall, gets herself hired as a maid.

Who's in it? The movie stars Dame Margaret Rutherford, Arthur Kennedy, Muriel Pavlow, James Robertson Justice and Charles Tingwell.

Review: The cats were making a ruckus early this morning and, realizing there was no point in me trying to go back to sleep, I wound up getting up 30 minutes earlier than usual. Since I had plenty of time before I had to wake my oldest daughter for school, I looked for a movie to watch and eventually picked this one out.

While I am a big fan of Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot, I only managed to read one Miss Marple mystery and, because of that, this film (which is based on one of her books) was something I was unfamiliar with when I started watching it. Overall, I have to say I enjoyed it.

There are a couple things that really stood out for me. One of the main ones was the mystery itself. Marple (Rutherford) didn't just witness a murder, she witnessed it at a glance from a completely different train. That, alone, made me wonder how she would even begin to find out what happened to the woman's body, let along who strangled that woman to death. Even though I was able to figure out who the killer was about halfway through the movie (along with that person's motive), the film also did a good job of keeping some details, including the identity of the victim, a secret until the end.

Another thing I liked about this film was the way it managed to be a comedy while, at the same time, remembered some scenes required a bit more drama. I was especially impressed with a scene in the movie involving a power outage and Marple, knowing she is in the house with a murderer, showed obvious signs of being on edge. That wound up being much more suspenseful than I was expecting.

I even have to say I liked the ending. Most of the time, movies like this fall in one of two categories. Either they end without addressing loose ends or they drag on for longer than they need to. This film had a perfect balance and managed to have a decent ending that didn't seem like it was being used stretch out the movie to a certain length.

Final Opinion: I wasn't sure if I would enjoy this movie but it proved to be both a funny film and an intriguing murder mystery. I know there are other Miss Marple films starring Rutherford and I intend to watch all of them now.

My Grade: A


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