Tuesday, 25 August 2015

4.50 From Paddington.

Here is a Christie I was so looking forward to picking up and reading. Not least because it formed the basis of the first Margaret Rutherford Ms Marple Murder She Said. I have been hooked on the idea of catching up with this novel and reading it ever since I was first captured by the opening credits of that movie with Ms Marple making her way through that nineteen sixties railway station in all its Victorian grandeur. the tinkling keys of that fantastic theme as she makes her way onto the train where she will witness murder. Two trains pass each other and Ms Marple as witness sees the murderer dispatch his helpless victim by strangling her. A vicious and completely personal form of murder, one that requires a particularly wicked streak, doing the terrible deed with ones own bare hands. the movie departs from the book in this concern and is just one of the many script differences between the book and the film. Not just in terms of action but tone also.
              In the novel it is ms Marples old lady chum who witnesses the murder but for the movie they seem to have decided to shorthand this to Ms Marple herself. One of the surprising tone differences, and I suspect one that Agatha Christie herself was unhappy with, was the difference between the frail old lady on paper and the super old lady as played by the indomitable Margaret Rutherford. In the book old age has in fact caught up with Jane Marple and it means she is just physically unable to take on the strain of entering the fray. Her mind is as agile as ever but her aching bones tell a different tale. Margaret Rutherford comes across as a sort of female Doctor Who, a sister figure to the role as played by William Hartnell himself in high church fashion. She quite marvelously comes across as a Galifreyan eccentric. Even going as far as getting a companion in order to share the adventure(and tiring legwork,) This younger woman goes undercover as a maid in the remote manor house they suspect the killer has hidden the victim's body and hides himself. On screen it is Jane Marple herself who straps on an apron to become that house maid doing the work of a team of servants( Happy days at Downton Abbey; My Arse!). In time she must not only do all that work but she must detect and confront a younger and very aggressive ruthless killer who has already murdered a younger fitter stronger woman. Old in years but young at heart she must deal with all who stand between her and the truth. She is something of a Lionheart is old Jane Marple.
               In the novel, again with tonal differences, there are two posh school boys who make it their business to yomp their way into the great game of detection, whilst in the movie it is a singularly judged performance by a Rodger The Dodger type who also becomes a young set of eyes and ears for Ms Marple.  For all the tone and script differences both versions are by now very much the products of another age. Both seem as remote as the Edwardian or Victorian eras as so much has changed in the world of then and now. Yet time has been kind and there is much to like in both versions. Murder She Said and murder there was on the 4.50 From Paddington. Sometimes journeys end in lovers meeting but sometimes the outcome is altogether something very different.