Three Versions of Murder with Mirrors

One of the pleasures of books to movies is seeing how various producers interpret a single work.

Agatha Christie's They Do It With Mirrors (Murder With Mirrors in the U.S.) is not one of my favorites. It has an utterly depressing ending, for one thing. However, the below three versions each borrow from separate aspects of the book to produce uniquely nuanced works, proving that interpretation is an endless pursuit.

BBC They Do It With Mirrors: Joan Hickson is excellently cast, of course, alongside other notables, such as Joss Ackland and Jean Simmons. The movie is the saddest of the three (although at least the scriptwriters didn't kill off nearly as many people as Christie is wont to do). One thing I appreciate about the movie is the emphasis on the three older woman--Miss Marple and the two sisters--and their youth together in Paris. This is entirely in keeping with Christie's tone.

The Helen Hayes version (1985) is fun, mostly because it is so well-cast. Bette Davis plays Louise. Leo Kern plays the detective! Tim Roth plays a troubled young man. John Woodvine even shows up (briefly). Helen Hayes, naturally, plays Miss Marple.

I am quite fond of Helen Hayes--I think she makes a great Miss Marple (much better than Margaret Rutherford or Lansbury--don't get me wrong: Angela Lansbury is wonderful as almost anybody but Miss Marple she ain't). And the movie is quite faithful to the book. The murderer is the least sympathetic of the three versions. But the Wally-Gina relationship is the most accurate (although I do enjoy the utter taciturnity of Joan Hickson's Wally; in all versions, he's an American from the West).

Unfortunately, like many of the 1980 "modernized" Christie-TV-movies, it drags on a bit. (Some of these movies are horrible and some of them are fantastic: Sparkling Cyanide with Anthony Andrews is one of the best Christies I've ever seen. And it "modernized" surprising well--apparently, politicians always behave badly.)

The French version, "Jeux de Glaces" from Les Petits Meurtres d'Agatha Christie is quite faithful to the original except in one glaring particular. *Spoilers* One of the points I love about the original is that Carrie Louise is not in fact as clueless as everyone claims. When she states that her husband is not in any real danger from Edgar, she is right! Once Miss Marple realizes that Carrie-Louise is remarkably astute about people, she is able to put all the pieces together to solve the case.

Despite the change to the Carrie Louise character, the French version is delightful as an introduction to the ever-so-1950's-stylish-and-debonair-and-caustic Detective Laurence and the utterly delightful and hilarious Alice Avril. I'm still not sure if they are potential lovers or not (the age difference is considerable). Like Mulder and Scully, it hardly matters. They are so much fun to watch!

Marlene as the resident Marilyn Monroe completes the picture.

1 comment:

FreeLiveFree said...

Have you seen the trailer of the New Orient Express movie? What do you think? It looks like they may have added bits from an action movie.