Film Review: Miss Marple Mingles With The Stars

The Mirror Crack'd (1980) - Kent Film Office

The Mirror Crack’d is a British mystery film released in 1980.  Guy Hamilton is the director while Jonathan Hales and Brent Sandler adapts the screenplay from a novel written by Agatha Christie.  Angela Lansbury is in the lead as Jame Marple, one of Christie’s best known sleuths.  The cast has some pretty heavy hitters of the cinema for that time.  Notable cast members are Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, and Tony Curtis.  A very young Pierce Brosnan is in this in an uncredited appearance before his fame hit full stride.

A Hollywood studio has chosen St. Mary Mead for the location of shooting a historical piece about Mary, Queen of Scots, and Elizabeth I.  The two leading ladies have a long standing rivalry.  A fan is poisoned at the reception, which piques the interest of the ever curious Jane Marple.  Miss Marple is the best known of fictional elderly spinster detectives.  The detective inspector investigating the case happens to be a nephew of Miss Marple, so an injury to her foot does not keep her sidelined too long.

I liked Lansbury’s performance of Miss Marple, but the make-up was pretty ghastly.  She is wearing either a white wig or had her hair dyed.  The production team would have done better to just let her keep her natural reddish hair color at that time, even if it didn’t quite match Christie’s description of Miss Marple.  This adaptation was pretty mediocre overall though.  It’s a talented enough cast, but something about the writing just didn’t work for me.  I may have just been too distracted by Lanbury’s appearance.  Of course, I am used to her presentation in Murder, She Wrote, so I just think the performance in this film didn’t need to be too dissimilar from that.  I actually have the upmost respect for Angela Lansbury, and whatever downfall there may be in her performance is likely not her fault.  I found that some of the other actors were overacting a bit, but the setting sort of lends itself to that.  The basic story itself was fine, but it has been a long time since  read that particular novel.  Anyway, I was expecting better since there were so many Hollywood legends involved, but I just couldn’t stay connected to it.  I think the writing and direction is more to blame than the actors though.

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