Friday, March 12, 2010

Star-filled Christie adaptation is worth looking into

The Mirror Crack'd (1980)
Starring: Angela Lansbury, Geraldine Chaplin, Rock Hudson, and Elizabeth Taylor
Director: Guy Hamilton
Rating: Eight of Ten Stars

When a harmless local from the English village of St. Mary Mead is murdered at a reception held in the honor of visiting Hollywood celebrities (Hudson and Taylor), only the keen mind of spinster detective Miss Marple (Lansbury) can separate the innocent from the guilty and solve a murder mystery with a motive rooted in the hazy past.

"The Mirror Crack'd" in one of the many star-filled Agatha Christie adaptations that were produced during the Sixties, Seventies, and Eighties... and this one has enough stars in it that even Carl Sagan would have been astonished. Even the supporting cast is made up of well-established actors, such as Tony Curtis, Kim Novak, Edward Fox, and Charles Gray.

The amazing collection of talent is supported by a well-written script, and the 105-minute running time of this very excellent example of a cozy mystery movie breezes by in what seems like no time. The spoofing of Hollywood stereotypes is well done in the film, with Taylor, Novak, and Curtis being particularly funny.

On the downside I don't think Lansbury made the best Miss Marple, but that's not so much a negative critique of her performance but a reflection of the fact I don't think she's right for the part; Lansbury simply doesn't have the sort of disarming and completely unassuming aura that a Miss Marple must excude. Lansbury isn't bad in the part, she's just miscast and therefore is doing as well as can be expected.

If you like these sorts of movies--be they Christie adaptations or originals--you'll find that "The Mirror Crack'd" is one of the better of its kind. The only truly bad part of the film is the musical soundtrack. I think the composer mistook St. Mary Mead for Chicago, and no one had the heart to tell him.


  1. I've always wanted to see this one.

  2. It is a good one... although it just struck me that most reviews I've written about films featuring Angela Lansbury have had the phrase "she's miscast" in it. (Although I've had a number of friends express disgreeing opinions about "The Key Man" and Lansbury's role in it.)