Agatha Christie's "Miss Marple" novels were hardly the most exciting affairs, yet never did one of them resemble the stunningly turgid mess that is this film. The characters that infest this grotesque depiction of Ye Olde England are not so much stereotypical, as utter fantasy in the most frightening manner.
Ye Olde Miss Marple is played in her third incarnation by the not-so-olde Angela Lansbury whose make-up reminds one of the living dead. She complements her ghastly veneer by putting on a strange doddering faux English accent and slight hunch, which only accentuates the fact that she's taller than most of the other actors. The scriptwriters' masterstroke of giving her consistently irritating and slightly creepy lines helps complete her image as an interfering and rather dangerous old crone. Having effectively committed the central character to the stake, the producers allow her to burn on the sidelines with the bulk of the sleuthing done by her police nephew Edward Fox.
He cuts a rather miserable figure next to the likes of Rock Hudson, who plays an American director visiting St Mary Mead to shoot a biopic on Mary, Queen of Scots. His wife, played by Elizabeth Taylor, is the star of the film and pretty soon of the murder mystery too, as it begins to look like someone wishes to dispose of her. Various stooge characters including Tony Curtis, Kim Novak, and Geraldine Chaplin are wheeled out before the viewer, each with various lame motives. But it becomes increasingly hard to care as pace, reality, and even believable fantasy are buried under a wreath of ye olde boredom. As always though, Elizabeth Taylor brings a little bit of class to her scenes.
"The Mirror Crack'd" is now available from Warner Home Video