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P.D. James - The Murder Room
PD James - The Murder Room
Actors: Martin Shaw, Janie Dee, Samantha Bond, Kerry Fox, Siān Phillips
Director: Diarmuid Lawrence
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Television, Mystery & Suspense
NR     2005     3hr 0min

Commander Dalgliesh undertakes a highly sensitive murder investigation at the Dupayne Museum. The circumstances of the case bear an unsettling similarity to the historical cases commemorated in the museum's notorious Murde...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Martin Shaw, Janie Dee, Samantha Bond, Kerry Fox, Siān Phillips
Director: Diarmuid Lawrence
Creators: Rebecca Eaton, Richard Broke, Robbie Sandison, Simon Lewis, Susan Hogg, P.D. James, Robert Jones
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Television, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Television, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: BBC Warner
Format: DVD - Color - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 10/25/2005
Original Release Date: 01/01/2004
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2004
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 3hr 0min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 1
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Room Without a View
Vince Perrin | Stockton, CA USA | 10/28/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"As do her novels and their BBC Television adaptations, the detective fiction of P. D. James is so complicated by character and motive that it is difficult to get one's bearing - - - as it is with the TV version of her last book, "The Murder Room," which like all mysteries has a beginning, middle and end. Lady James eschews proper beginnings, however, and plunges us right into the story without exposition, leaving us to sort out the complexities. Her genius, and that of her adapter, is to peak our interest; we want to know what has happened, is happening and will happen, even if we don't quite understand what we are watching.

It is frustrating up to a point when all falls into place, usually about a quarter into the narrative; from then on, it is sheer bliss. In this one, her detective, a widower nurturing a romance, is asked to solve a pair of murders at a small private museum. The museum has a room devoted to historical murders and a board of sibling directors squabbling over keeping the museum open. Although likely suspects abound, the culprit comes as a surprise (there are clues for anyone paying attention.) The pacing, acting, direction and especially the production design meet the high standards of this series. There's a chatty BBC interview with Lady James that will peak your interest in her novels and other adaptations.
Adam Dalgliesh on the Beat Again
A. Dieckman | 01/17/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"A great story, loaded with suspects, suspense, etc. But this is beautifully shot, beautifully edited as well, and Martin Shaw I believe is the only one who can replace Roy Marsden (of previous televisualizations of P.D. James books) as the eternal Adam Dalgliesh.
Buy this disk and enjoy!"
Flamboyant Murders, a Creepy Setting, and Too Many Suspects.
mirasreviews | McLean, VA USA | 10/26/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Commander Adam Dalgleish (Martin Shaw) of New Scotland Yard's Special Investigation Squad is called upon to investigate the murder of psychiatrist Neville Dupayne (Michael Maloney) at his family's museum. The Dupayne Museum is dedicated to the interwar years in England, the personal project of deceased family patriarch Max Dupayne, whose children Marcus (Nicholas de Prevost), Caroline (Samantha Bond), and Neville inherited its responsibilities. Neville thought the museum a waste of resources that could be put to better use, while Marcus, Caroline, and the museum staff stood to lose home and income if it closed. There is no shortage of suspects when Neville is murdered by a method apparently emulating one of the crimes in The Murder Room, the museum's section dedicated to famous murders between the wars. Dalgleish goes around in circles interviewing the Dupayne family and museum staff -curator James Calder-Hale (Jack Shepherd), receptionist Muriel (Kerry Fox), housekeeper Tally Klutton (Anita Carey), and handyman Ryan Archer (Sid Mitchell)- while tangling with a touch-and-go relationship with ladyfriend Emma (Janie Dee) in his scarce spare time.

"The Murder Room" is a solid British mystery flick with the requisite melodrama, scandal, and a bit of gore. Martin Shaw takes his second turn as Adam Dalgleish, the laconic, pensive police detective. Shaw noted in an interview that Dalgleish is difficult to play because "there isn't a strong character there". He's an observer, "the eyepiece through which the audience sees everything". But Shaw manages to embody a soul amid the enigma of Adam Dalgleish, so the audience has some character to grasp. "The Murder Room" isn't without flaw. I realized that it exceeded the reasonable number of characters when they were still being introduced nearly half-way through this 3-hour film. There are 12 characters involved with the Dupayne museum, not including police or anyone not directly related to the case. So many people with such convoluted interrelationships necessitate a date stamp on the screen for the days leading up to the murder. The action would really be indecipherable without some sense of time. The characters' relationships are difficult to make sense of as it is. Dalgleish's junior colleagues, Detective Inspectors Piers (William Beck) and Kate (Tilly Blackwood), seem unprofessional and unrealistic. And Dalgleish and Emma's pubescent behavior is ridiculous. But it occurs to me that these complaints are common to P.D. James mysteries, so her fans aren't likely to find fault with them.

The DVD (Warner Home Video 2005): The "P.D.James Interview" (6 ½ minutes) is from the television program "BBC Breakfast", recorded in July 2003. James talks about "The Murder Room" (the book), her writing technique, fictional vs real life crime, and chats with her 2 interviewers. The "Cast/Author Biographies" are text bios of 10 cast members and P.D. James, with selective filmographies."
My worst failure comes back to me in flames of fire
Baking Enthusiast | Chicago, IL USA | 05/11/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)

"The Murder Room by P. D. James is a classic whodunit featuring Lady James' franchise character, Adam Dalgliesh. Viewers of Anglia TV's 1980s and 1990s adaptations will remember actor, Roy Marsden, as the analytical, poetry-loving commander in the Metropolitan Police Service of New Scotland Yard. In the more recent BBC productions, actor Martin Shaw is the new Dalgliesh.

The story opens with a heated discussion among siblings Neville, Marc, and Caroline, all trustees of the Dupayne Museum established by their father. The deceased Max Dupayne's will stipulated that the museum would close if his children do not unanimously renew its lease. Marc and Caroline are intent on keeping the museum open. Neville, a psychiatrist, would like to see it sold and his share of the proceeds go toward funding his clinic. A portion of the museum is dedicated to a macabre exhibit of notorious murders in the interwar years thus, the title. Not long after, Neville is found burned to death in a car lock-up and the body of a young model is discovered in a tin trunk inside the museum. Adam Dalgliesh is assigned the investigation while he's attempting to rekindle a romance with Cambridge lecturer, Emma, who he met in a previous case.

I read the book years ago and I actually prefer the film version. But like the book, the initial challenge here is the sheer number of characters, most of whom are suspects, and there are flashbacks that do not make sense until later. As it progresses, though, pieces begin to fall into place and over three hours, we get to know the characters well enough to be engaged in the story. This is a lavish production as we've come to expect with BBC. The actors, especially Samantha Bond as Caroline, are excellent as always. As a long-time viewer of the Roy Marsden versions, it's taking me awhile to get used to the new face of Martin Shaw in the Dalgliesh role, but this, in no way, reflects on Shaw's superb performance. The DVD extras include an interview with P. D. James, a must-see for fans such as myself.

As I mentioned, this story has an overwhelming number of characters we're introduced to rather rapidly. For those interested, I've provided a list of the significant characters, which I hope will be helpful to future viewers.

Dupayne Family:
Dr. Neville Dupayne - dedicated psychiatrist; at odds with siblings over museum's future
Caroline Dupayne - Neville's wealthy and snobbish sister who harbors a secret involving the rich and powerful
Marcus Dupayne - pushed out of his firm and abandoned by his wife, he`s adamant on keeping the museum and running it himself
Sara Dupayne - Neville's daughter who's desperate for her share of the museum's sale

Museum Staff:
Muriel Godby - sees to the everyday running of the museum; will lose her job if museum is sold
Tally Clutton - housekeeper; discovers Neville's body in flames; will lose her job and cottage if museum is sold
James Calder-Hale - curator; same concerns as Muriel and Tally
Marie Strickland - volunteer calligraphist; has a long history with the Dupaynes
Ryan Archer - former car thief; handyman at museum and prime suspect in the murders

Scotland Yard:
Adam Dalgliesh
Kate Miskin - DI on Dalglieh's team
Piers Tarrant - DI on Dalgliesh's team
Bruno Denholm - MI5 agent intent on covering up possible involvement of powerful people

Emma Lavenham - Dalgliesh's love interest
Clara - Emma's friend who thinks Emma deserves better than Dalgliesh
Angela Faraday - Neville's married assistant; distraught over the break-up of her affair with Neville
Lord Marthesham - married politician implicated in Neville's death
Celia Mellock - second victim; young model having an affair with Marthesham
Alfred Arthur Rouse - (only in flashback) a 1930s murderer whose modus operandi is duplicated by Neville's killer"