“It may irritate you Inspector, that women sometimes have superior minds. You’ll simply have to accept it.”
Margaret McGinty’s lodger has been arrested for the murder of Margaret McGinty. He was found by constable Wells (Terry Scott) in Mrs. McGinty’s house with his hands on the rope she was hung from, one hundred, one pound notes and a crushed rose on the floor under her body. The jury needs to decide if the lodger was trying to untie her from the rope or if he was tying her up to make manual strangulation look like suicide. It may look like an open and shut case, but there is one holdout in the jury that results in a mistrial. The holdout is Miss Jane Marple (Margaret Rutherford).
Miss Marple is convinced that someone else killed Mrs. McGinty. On the ruse of collecting for a church tag sale she searches Mrs. McGinty’s house. She finds a newspaper that had words cut out of it and she finds six copies of a program for a play called “Murder She Said”. Miss Marple figures out that the words from the paper and the programs point to Mrs. McGinty as a blackmailer. The victim is someone associated with the play. The play was performed by the Cosgood Players.
Miss Marple auditions for Driffold Cosgood (Ron Moody). She lets it be known she is a woman of independent wealth. Repertory companies are always short of funds. Cosgood takes the bait and makes her a member of the troupe. At that moment George Rowton (Maurice Good), one of the cast members, enters and falls down dead. Inspector Craddock (Charles Tingwell) and Sergeant Brick (Windsor Davies) are called.
The police think that Rowton killed Mrs. McGinty and then committed suicide. Mrs. Marple disagrees. Then Dorothy (Annette Kerr), another member of the troupe is killed. Miss Marple gathers all the clues together with wit, and an energy that I haven’t had in years, and solves a case that started in 1951.
“Murder Most Foul” was released in 1964 and was directed by George Pollock. It is the third of four Miss Marple films made by MGM and Britain. It is loosely based on the 1952 novel “Mrs. McGinty's Dead” by Agatha Christie published in 1952. The book featured Hercule Poirot as the detective and not Miss Marple. The title of the film comes from Hamlet where the ghost comments on his own death: "Murder most foul as in the best it is/But this most foul, strange and unnatural."
I’m not sure what makes this movie more fun, Agatha Christie or Margaret Rutherford. Margaret Rutherford did four Agatha Christie movies as Miss Jane Marple. Dame Rutherford’s partner in crime in the film is a character named Mr. Jim Stringer (Stringer Davis). Davis is Margaret Rutherford’s real life husband. It explains the twinkle between them when they talk.
It was a delightful mystery with touches of natural humor. Rutherford as the spunky detective is always two steps ahead of the police. The mystery was also compelling and the story telling flowed. It was a fast hour and a half.
There are several Shakespeare references in the film. Besides the title coming from “Hamlet”, the rose by any other name reference is from “Romeo and Juliet”. Also Driffold Cosgood alludes to "Macbeth” when he says "Sleep that knits up the ravelled sleave of care"