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Mord im Pfarrhaus

West Germany 1970
produced by
Ulrich Kühn for ZDF
directed by Hans Quest
starring Inge Langen, Heinz Bennent, Edith Schneider, Paula Denk, Helga Anders, Paul Neuhaus, Willy Semmelrogge, Fritz Haneke, Ingrid Capelle, Clara Walbröhl, Christian Margulies, Herbert Mensching, Käte Jaenicke
play by Moie Charles, Barbara Toy, based on the novel The Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie, music by Raimund Rosenberger

Miss Marple

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Colonel Hampton is murdered in the vicarage, at the time the vicar (Herbert Mensching) was called away on a bogus call. Now the Colonel was not very well-liked in the community, not by the vicar or his wife Griselda (Ingrid Capelle), not by his own wife Anne (Edith Schneider) or daughter Virginia (Helga Anders), but least of all probably by curate Hawes (Paul Neuhaus), whom he has (correctly, as it will turn out) suspected of embezzling church money. When inspector Slack (Willy Semmelrogge) arrives on the scene, he's confronted with not only one but two confessions, one from the Colonel's wife Anne, the other by artist Redding (Heinz Bennent), both of their motive being that they had an affair with one another and needed the Colonel out of the way. However, both their confessions are easily disproven, the former's because she didn't carry a weapon when entering the vicarage around the time of the murder, the latter's because he's quickly provided with a water-proof alibi. So the investigations go on, and the curate gets more and more nervous, so much so that he confesses to Redding that he has taken the church money, and Redding persuades him to write a confession, but then poisons him when he's only half way through, with the confession than looking like Hawes is admitting to the murder. Enter Miss Marple (Inge Langen), a middle-aged busybody, who just like that figures everything out, including that Anne has killed her husband with a gun Redding had hidden in the vicarage. Redding naturally threatens to kill Miss Marple, and pretty much everyone else who arrives on the scene. Anne tries to disarm him, and he shoots her in the struggle that ensues and is then easily apprehended.

 

A disappointingly dull adaptation of the first ever Miss Marple novel by Agatha Christie, which is at least partly due to the fact that the film isn't directly based on the novel but on its stage version from 1949, written by Moie Charles and Barbara Toy, as this TV movie comes across as incredibly stagey, being confined to just one location, with nothing in terms of interesting visuals or the like. And thus, also all the characters' appearances seem unnatural and, well, staged - something you do get away with in theater, but on film it's jarring and seems forced. And the film's not really helped by the lack of real suspense, and actually the absence of an actual lead - especially Miss Marple is only an uninteresting supporting character most of the time who doesn't come across as very likeable, actually. And Inge Langen, 46 at the time this was filmed, was quite simply too young for the role and not able to give her character the gravitas the script failed to give her. It's still interesting from an obscurity point of view, but definitely less than good.

 

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review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD