Miss Marple Comes to Life

Let me take a day off gender choices and phony Global Warming.

It’s hard for an actor to play a well-established, popular, beloved fictional character and bring that character to life on the screen. Christopher Reeve did it with Superman. Both Basil Rathbone and Jeremy Brett succeeded in “becoming” Sherlock Holmes. David Suchet is Hercule Poirot.

And if you haven’t yet seen those TV movies from the 1980s starring Joan Hickson as Miss Marple–well, you’ve missed something wonderful. But you can find most of them on youtube, free of charge, or rent them from amazon.com for instant viewing for a very small fee.

Agatha Christie herself wanted Hickson to play Miss Marple someday–although when she told the actress that, in person, Hickson was only in her 40s and some decades away from Miss Marple’s age. Christie’s instinctive choice was right on the money, though.

No one can play Miss Marple like Joan Hickson! Anybody else, nice try, but no cigar.

Imagine–a detective who’s not a cop, not a private eye, but just a little old lady who has lived in a village all her life and has, in the words of one of her acquaintances, “a mind like a bacon-slicer.” She hunts down murderers, but she can’t defend herself physically and she can’t run away, nor does she carry a gun. It must always be born in mind that any murderer who got wise to Miss Marple could very easily bump her off.

If you can watch one of these films without thinking, at the end, that, if only you could tell your troubles to Miss Marple, she’d know what to do… well, then, the performance just didn’t speak to you.

Note: Patty and I did watch one of the Miss Marple movies made after Hickson’s death, and it just didn’t come up to snuff–not even close.

Once you’ve seen the real deal, nothing else will do.

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