Dame Christie's most popular character, prim and proper Miss Jane Marple, is adored worldwide by mystery fans for her razor-sharp mind, intuitive understanding of criminal behavior, and trademark knitting needles. Enjoy fo... more »ur feature-film adaptations of Miss Marple's greatest mysteries in one collectible 2-pack. It's hours of great whodunnits for all ages.« less
"It is dangerous to believe people. I haven't for years ..."
Themis-Athena | from somewhere between California and Germany | 01/25/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There she sits: A white-haired lady dressed in tweeds, a pair of knitting needles in her lap, more interested in village gossip than in the goings-on of the world at large - and out of nothing, she utters sentences like that.
For more likely than not, another murder has been committed; and Miss Jane Marple, elderly spinster from the village of St. Mary Mead, just happens to find herself near the scene of the crime. And also more likely than not, while the police are still toddling around searching for clues she'll find the solution - relying on her ever-unfailing "village parallels;" those seemingly innocuous incidents of village life that make up the sum of her knowledge of human nature, and to which she routinely turns in unmasking even the cleverest killer. "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," already observes Vicar Clement, the narrator of Miss Marple's literary debut, 1930's "Murder at the Vicarage" (although in the BBC series, only her fifth adventure).
Originally airing in the 1980s, the BBC's adaptations of Agatha Christie's twelve Miss Marple novels featured Joan Hickson in the title role; quickly establishing her as the quintessential Miss 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 one day "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 decidedly 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" version 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 and 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 Inspector Slack 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 series's first instalment, 1984's "The Body in the Library" (where he really does appear) to Superintendent in 1992's "The Mirror Crack'd" (which is originally only an Inspector Craddock story). 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 her friend, retired Scotland Yard chief Sir Henry Clithering, "wonderful gift to state the obvious." (During a conversation with Craddock [John Castle] in "The Mirror Crack'd," Slack - whom Miss Marple herself, in the TV adaptation of "Murder at the Vicarage," has already likened to a railway diesel engine, or in that story's literary original to a shoe vendor intent on selling you patent leather boots while completely ignoring your request for brown calf leather instead - unaware that he is talking to one of Aunt Jane's nephews, rather unsubtly credits her with having "a mind like a meat cleaver.")
Although Agatha Christie herself reportedly preferred Miss Marple over Hercule Poirot, her audience's demands compelled her to bring back the moustachioed Belgian with the many little grey cells much more frequently than the village sleuth from St. Mary Mead. All the greater the tribute paid to "Dear Aunt Jane" in these lovingly-executed adaptations - now, if only this set also contained the series' first three entries ...
"Murder at the Vicarage" (1930, BBC 1986; Christie's first Marple story) "The Moving Finger" (1942, BBC 1985) "They Do It with Mirrors" (1952, BBC 1991) "4:50 From Paddington" (1957, BBC 1987; a/k/a "What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw!") "The Mirror Crack'd" (1962, BBC 1992; title taken from Tennyson's "Lady of Shalott") "At Bertram's Hotel" (1965; BBC 1987) "A Caribbean Mystery" (1965, BBC 1989) "Nemesis" (1971, BBC 1987; sequel to the above) "Sleeping Murder" (1976, BBC 1987; Christie's last Miss Marple mystery)
Episodes not included:
"The Body in the Library" (1942, BBC 1984, the first adaptation starring Hickson) "A Murder Is Announced" (1950, BBC 1985) "A Pocket Full of Rye" (1953, BBC also 1985)
Also recommended: Murder at the Vicarage: A Miss Marple Mystery (Agatha Christie Collection) Agatha Christie: Five Complete Miss Marple Novels (Avenel Suspense Classics) Miss Marple: The Complete Short Stories Miss Marple - 3 Feature Length Mysteries (The Body in the Library / A Murder Is Announced / A Pocketful of Rye) The Mirror Crack'd"
Nice deal (if you haven't already bought them)
Eric Pregosin | New Carrollton, Maryland United States | 01/14/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a collection of 5 discs of 9 episodes 2 hrs each (1 hr 40 mins without commercials of course) of the Miss Marple series of mysteries that aired on PBS' Mystery and later A&E after being "inherited" from BBC. Joan Hickson is a delight in the title role. Ok, she's not the hilarious "twit" that Margaret Rutherford was on the big screen 4 times in the 1960s (that set is now available too), but she does a first class job just as David Suchet did for Poirot and Jeremy Brett did for Sherlock Holmes. 2 things you should be aware of. 1) These discs were previously released in 2 separate sets (which I bought ages ago), and admittedly the current asking price on Amazon for this set is less than the 2 combined (heck, it's less than set 2 by itself as I type this). Point is, nothing new here, if you like me bought the other 2 sets, all this will do is duplicate your existing stuff. 2) Although this is a lot of good mystery, it's not "THE COMPLETE SERIES". To complete your series, you will need to order the 3 disc set released by BBC Video through there deal with Warner also offered on this page. Albeit, these A&E copies are better than the Warner ones (these are shown as 1 complete story each while the Warner episodes are cut into 3 installments each with their own set of credits, 1 into 2 installments). But still if you want the complete series, you will need the other set plus this set (or the previously released 2). If you have a real yen for Miss Marple, buy this, the Warner 3 pack and the Margaret Rutherford set. Then after you pay your bill, think about the new Geraldine McEwan sets (I have yet to see those episodes, so you'll have to tell me how good or bad they are). Seriously, these (all the Hicksons) are first rate and if you have the complete Poirot sets and/or the Holmes sets, this would be just as welcome in your library."
Comments on edits made to stories
John Prentice | St Kilda, Victoria Australia | 10/16/2001
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Much to my annoyance I found out that at least two of the stories in this set have been edited. For those trying to make a decision whether or not to buy these disks, I have outlined the cuts below:Sleeping Murder - intact: no cuts.
The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side - appears to be intact.4.50 from Paddington - edited: 5 mins 11 secs
Scenes edited are:
* Miss Marple and Mrs McGillicuddy directly after the latter arrives at Miss Marple's where she talks about how the people on the railway wouldn't believe a word she said about what she saw on the train(30 secs)
* Miss Marple collects the mail after it has been dropped off by the postman (13 secs)
* A continuation of the conversation between Lucy Eylesbarrow and Emma Crackenthorpe as they walk down the hall after the former arrives there where they discuss the imminent arrival of the rest of the family and the peculiarities of the family will / Emma introduces Lucy to Mrs Kidder (the cook) / Dr Quimper leaving and chatting to Emma / Mrs Kidder leaving for the day and Lucy asking if she minds if she does a bit of tidying up / Lucy cleaning the kitchen (3 mins 10 sec)
* Dr Qumper walking with Inspector Slack away from the barn watched by the two boys / Slack talking to Quimper about the family (1 min 26 secs)As you can see substantial edits here that actually affect what information we receive about the will, plus the removal of chunks of character development - grrr.A Caribbean Mystery - edited: 3 mins 54 secs
Scenes edited are:
* Man setting up lantern on raft - a continuation of this scene where he jumps in boat and starts back / Miss Marple meeting Victoria / Tim greeting Miss Marple and discussing with her whether or not she would prefer an English-style meal for dinner, as Jason Rafiel enters (1 min 13 secs)
* Miss Marple unable to sleep (12 secs)
* Molly returning to dinner covered in blood after she finds Victoria and breaking down (1 min 3 secs)
* Greg Dyson the beach / Evelyn Hillingdon talking to Miss Marple (26 secs)
* Inspector Weston arriving at Victoria's funeral / singing at funeral (25 sec)
* Jason Rafiel watching Miss Marple approach and inviting her to tea, to which Miss Marple responds that she was coming to see him anyway (21 secs)
* Miss Marple folding linen as she packs to leave (4 secs)
* Inspector Weston with Miss Marple and Molly after the murderer is caught (10 secs)The cuts here are not as severe except for the ones concerning Victoria (they establish Miss marples relationship with her) and the one with Molly returning to dinner where she finally cracks."
Agatha Chtistie Marple - The Classic Mysteries Collection
DG Bucknall | Atlanta, USA | 07/09/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Coming from Britain where the original episodes were broadcast and repeated a number of times I am one of the legion of fans of these versions of Miss Marple - Joan Hickson is the definitive old lady of crime envisioned by Agatha Christie. Therefore when I saw this collection of Miss Marple on DVD we had to have it despite already owning the VHS tapes from the UK. Whilst the stories are there to be enjoyed, we have been extremely disappointed by the drastic cuts that have been inflicted on all the stories we have watched so far. We have noted in one review someone said that Miss Marple makes more sense of the clues than the viewer, perhaps not surprising given the cuts that have been made. For instance in 'The Mirror Crack'd From Side to Side' 11 minutes of footage has been cut from the VHS version. Whilst 11 minutes may not sound a lot, in the uncut VHS version of the same story it does include critical moments which genuinely add to the story. Of all the episodes we have watched in this DVD collection, all have been cut by between 5 and 15 minutes. Why did the A&E people feel the need to tamper when it wasn't necessary?"
New Miss Marple DVD is a disappointment!
Book Lover | Orlando, Florida USA | 10/03/2001
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I'd been eagerly waiting for the DVD release of this wonderful series but am now very disappointed. This is the second set of A&E DVDs I've had to return recently because of poor quality. THE 4:50 FROM PADDINGTON DVD is the worst I've seen. It looks like an old and worn out video. It's dirty and the colors are washed out. No restoration work there! SLEEPING MURDER is better but not as good as it could be. Frankly, I didn't even bother to watch the other two shows, I returned the set. I've bought other A&E DVDs made from much older shows, like The Saint, from the sixties, and all 12 episodes are crisp and clear and the color is nice and bright. Also, why did they edit these shows? You lose important information that way, especially in mysteries. It appears that A@E no longer cares about the quality of the products they sell. They should check them before they're made available to the public. Visually they lack the high standards that one expects from DVDs. Hopefully A&E will rectify this in future releases of this set."