Margaret Rutherford (1892-1972) was an Academy Award winning character actress with a huge chin and sagging jowls who generally portrayed a woman with a lively indomitable spirit. She, therefore, was perfect for the part of Miss Marple in four delightful films recently released on DVD. All four are black and white crisply transposed to the DVD format making them visually rewarding for those who enjoy seeing black and white movies as they were originally presented.
In all four films the Agatha Christie character is aided by her friend, Mr. Stringer - played by Rutherford's real life husband, Stringer Davis (1896-1973) - and Inspector Craddock played by Charles Tingwell (1923-). Each film also has a costar known to United States audiences. All are entertaining larks with good acting and a tidy little mystery.
Murder, She Said (http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0055205/) costars Arthur Kennedy and has Miss Marple witnessing a murder on a passing train which, later, cannot be confirmed. From there we are carried to an estate peopled with the most interesting characters of the four films.
I found Murder at the Gallup (http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0057334/) the least entertaining of the four because of the dearth of interesting characters, but Robert Morley as the costar is always engaging. The scenes between him and Rutherford are pure gems.
Murder Ahoy! (http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0058382/) is the silliest of the four but Lionel Jeffries adds spark as a somewhat dimwitted ship's captain. This is the only film in the four that is not based upon a Christie novel.
The last of the series, Murder Most Foul (http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0058383/) is probably the most solidly entertaining of the four - which is unusual praise for a third sequel. Ron Moody is great as a comic actor and director of a small theater company at the center of the murders. The mystery is solid, and all the supporting characters are enjoyable and watchable.
If you are in the mood for a good, old-fashioned black and white mystery with that special English touch, you can't go wrong with one or all of this light, enjoyable series.