7 November 2017

STUDIOCANAL PRESENTS: AGATHA CHRISTIE'S 'THE MIRROR CRACKED.' (1980) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS.




THE MIRROR CRACK'D. (1980) DIRECTED BY GUY HAMILTON. BASED ON 'THE MIRROR CRACK'D FROM SIDE TO SIDE' BY AGATHA CHRISTIE. STARRING ELIZABETH TAYLOR, ROCK HUDSON, TONY CURTIS, KIM NOVAK, GERALDINE CHAPLIN, EDWARD FOX, CHARLES GRAY, CAROLYN PICKLES AND PIERCE BROSNAN.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

'Out flew the web and floated wide-
The mirror crack'd from side to side;
The curse has come upon me,
Cried the Lady of Shalott.'

Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

'Have you seen his last picture? I could eat a can of Kodak and puke a better film!'

Lola Brewster.

I love this old Agatha Christie book-to-film adaptation starring Angela Lansbury (Jessica Fletcher from MURDER SHE WROTE) as the world's most famous lady detective, Miss Marple.
Hercule Poirot is of course Ms. Christie's male detective. Ms. Christie had a most prodigious output, the kind that makes lesser writers like myself want to stick their heads in the gas oven from despair.

Apparently, she turned out a whopping sixty-six novels in her lifetime and fourteen short story collections. She also wrote THE MOUSETRAP, the world's longest-running play, and six romances under the nice sensible pseudonym of Mary Westmacott.

Well, I'll just go and shoot myself now then, but before I do that I should probably talk a little bit about 'THE MIRROR CRACK'D,' a marvellous film adaptation that I first remembering watching when I was a nipper. I never forgot Liz Taylor's form-fitting purple dress and the mad-looking hat that looks like a swimming cap that's been used to plant flowers in, haha.

The still beautiful Elizabeth Taylor plays a big Hollywood movie star, Marina Gregg, who has come to a small rural English village in 1953 to make an historical epic about Mary, Queen of Scots.

The little picturesque village of St. Mary Mead is the perfect English village, the sort where jolly good eggs in white flannel trousers and v-necked sweaters play a spot of cricket on the Green and the vicar judges the Women's Institute's baking competition at the annual village fete in the summertime.

It's the home of Miss Jane Marple, an inquisite soul with a lively, curious turn of mind whom we wouldn't dream of terming a busybody or a gossip but who, as she says so herself, merely takes a healthy interest in human nature and the goings-on around her. Good on ya, Miss Marple.

With an acute brain and a nice apposite turn of phrase, she's been solving the little mysteries of St. Mary Mead for years with a speed and efficiency that would bring a blush to the cheeks of a certain other fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes of 221B Baker Street.

Anyway, it's up at the swanky mansion, Gossington House, where the movie stars are making their picture, that all the action is happening. At a sort of meet 'n' greet for the celebs and the villagers up at the big house on the day of the village fete, a chatty young village woman called Heather Babcock shockingly and suddenly pops her clogs after drinking a daiquiri intended for Marina, after having been actually deep in conversation with Marina.

Who would want to kill Marina? Her much put-upon husband, Jason, played by Rock
Hudson? Jason's secretary and obvious sometime-lover Ella Zelinsky, who is clearly jealous of the overly-dramatic and extremely needy and high-maintenance Marina's hold on Jason? She'd be the obvious choice, the jealous mistress.

Less obvious a candidate for the role of murderer is the wonderful character of Lola Brewster, played by Kim Novak who had partnered all-American actor James Stewart in Alfred Hitchcock's masterpiece VERTIGO a couple of decades earlier.

She's still looking fantastic though, still a stunning blonde bombshell with the same trim figure from the old glory days when she was being fished out of San Francisco bay by an utterly smitten John 'Scottie' Ferguson, who took her home and gently undressed her and warmed her in front of his fire, the horny beast.

In this film, she plays a washed-up movie star, just like Marina Gregg, but unlike Marina, Lola hasn't had a complete nervous breakdown from which she's still recovering. Marina has a secret, or nearly-secret, tragedy in her recent past that has left her fragile and on edge, and the gloriously bitchy Lola loses no time in getting in a few digs and snide remarks.

The two women hate each other. Their bitchy comments to and about each other are hilarious. Marina about Lola: 'I've always considered Lola to be one of my oldest, OLDEST friends.' And Lola to Marina when they're both being photographed: 'Chin up, darling. That's right, both of them.' That little bitch, haha.

Tony Curtis (SOME LIKE IT HOT) plays Lola's long-suffering producer hubby, Marty, who is the only reason that the ageing drama queen is getting to play Elizabeth the First opposite Mary, Queen of Sluts, as Lola rather brilliantly puts it.

To be honest, both women are nightmares to be married to. They run their husbands ragged with their constant demands. They're neurotic, over-sensitive about their age and appearance and, if it wasn't for the money they've made and, no doubt, squirrelled away over the years, their husbands would probably have bailed out years ago. As it is, who can really blame them if they have to play away from home the odd time, just to make living with their wives more bearable...?

Marina is, if anything, even worse and more dramatic than Lola, although she might have good reason to be. She's been getting death threats posted to her and her coffee's being doctored with poison on the set, and so she's already a ball of nerves when we meet her for the first time.

But when another person directly connected to Marina drops dead suddenly, it looks like the plot is thickening dangerously quickly and suddenly everyone is a suspect. Enter Miss Marple and her copper nephew Inspector Dermot Craddock, impeccably played by the delightfully plummy-voiced posho Edward Fox.

I noticed that the butler at Gossington Hall, Mr. Bates, was played by Charles Gray who, a few years earlier, had played the evil but mesmerisingly compelling Mocata in THE DEVIL RIDES OUT. This is a superb British horror film by Hammer Film Studios, also starring horror legend Christopher Lee as well as Patrick Mower and Nike Arrighi. 

It was based on the novel by iconic writer Dennis Wheatley (screenplay written by Richard Matheson) and some folks consider this, along with NIGHT OF THE DEMON, THE WICKER MAN and BLOOD ON SATAN'S CLAW, to be one of the finest British horror movies ever made, and they're not wrong there.

Watch out for Irish heart-throb Pierce Brosnan (JAMES BOND, REMINGTON STEELE, THE SIMPSONS) in an uncredited cameo role here as well, acting as a romantic interest for one of the old Queens, haha.

He's had many acting roles but my favourite of all his works is the part he played in HOUSE OF WHACKS, a segment on one of THE SIMPSONS' TREEHOUSE OF HORROR Halloween episodes. As a crazed robot, he orders Marge Simpson to: 'Take your knickers off and wait for me in the bath,' the horny piece of scrap metal...!

Anyway, THE MIRROR CRACK'D is available to buy now on EST and in DVD and Blu-Ray form on an Agatha Christie box-set from STUDIOCANAL, as part of their VINTAGE CLASSICS series.

Other excellent films in the box-set include: MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS; DEATH ON THE NILE; and finally, EVIL UNDER THE SUN. 

This'll make a terrific pressie for anyone who likes a good old detective story because, trust me, they don't come any better for this. And watch out for the funny fake-out at the start of THE MIRROR CRACK'D, it'll bamboozle and flummox you just like it did me.

I was supposed to put my head in the gas oven after writing this review, wasn't I? Well, there's a Tesco pizza heating up in there at the moment. Must be why this thing smells of pepperoni and pineapple...

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:


http://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com










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