Who's your favorite Miss Marple?

I was re-watching The Body In The Library this evening, and was thinking about this. Over the years I have seen these actresses in this role:

Margaret Rutherford - several movies in the early 60’s
Angela Lansbury - the movie The Mirror Crack’d with Elizabeth Taylor and Kim Novak
Joan Hickson - the long-running British TV series from the 80’s and 90’s, still seen on your local PBS station
Geraldine McEwan - the recently-finished British TV series, also seen on your local PBS station (apparently she stopped doing this role in 2007)

and one I haven’t seen yet

Julie McKenzie - the newest British TV series, she apparently started in 2008 and I haven’t seen this series in the U.S. yet.

Now, about Dame Margaret in this role, the less said the better ::shudder::

I always thought Joan Hickson was too vinegary looking, and also far too dithery (although that’s the way the adaptation was written, I presume).

Geraldine McEwan is closer, but she was too twinkly and self-satisfied for my taste. Still, very watchable (I didn’t think the story adaptations were as well written as the Hickson ones, though).

But I thought Angela Lansbury was spot on, physically and temperamentally. The snowy white hair, the height (I’m not sure why, but I always pictured Marple as rather tall and thin), no distracting mannerisms, just a nice ordinary English lady who paid careful attention to details, and was able to put two and two and another two together.

Any other actresses I have missed? Who’s your favorite?

If you’re including parodies, there’s Elsa Lanchester as Jessica Marbles in Murder by Death. She was probably the least used of the classic detetives in that movie, though.

I think because that’s how she was described in print. Only she’s so rarely described in later books, once she became a recurrent, established character, that no one remembers.

No Helen Hayes? I guess you know my choice.

Joan Hickson

I’ll always think of Margaret Rutherford as Miss Marple, although I’ve not seen any of the more recent versions.

I prefer Joan Hickson, and the adaptations of the novels she appeared in. I own these on DVD.

I’ve seen the Helen Hayes and Margaret Rutherford movies and, while I don’t enjoy them as much as Hickson, they’re okay. I have no objection to them.

Angela Lansbury seemed too healthy and forcefull for the role–to my mind, Miss Marple should appear deceptively fragile and old ladyish.

I normally like Geraldine McEwan, but not as Miss Marple. She annoys me. And I really dislike what this recent series has done with some of my favorite stories:

For example, what the heck were Nazis doing at Bertram’s Hotel? And how did the writers manage to turn a murder of deceptive simplicity into something bizarrely elaborate depending on an overflowing bathtub?

I’d forgotten about Helen Hayes; I assume you are referring to the 1985 TV movie of Murder With Mirrors. I don’t think she was at all right for the part either.

Maybe Angela did seem too healthy, I just took it that she was a bit younger than in some of her later adventures (Marples’ career did span over 40 years, I believe). She was always a spinster, but she wasn’t always so very old.

I agree with Miss Mapp’s assessment of the Geraldine McEwan story adaptations. But one thing I do like is that they are set in the 50’s rather than the 30’s, I’m not sure why. I don’t much care for the backstory of losing her married lover in WWI, and I’m glad they only used it a couple of times (as far as I remember). I don’t remember that in any of the books (disclaimer: it’s been a very long time since I read those books).

The one I watched recently was a modernized (set in the 1980s version) of A Carribean Mystery, but Murder With Mirrors is also coming up in my DVD rental queue.

If I recall correctly, she is first introduced as an elderly lady of perhaps 65-70, and therefore must be about 110 by the time she investigates her last mystery. :slight_smile:

There isn’t anything like it in the books. After I saw the episode in which the story of the lover was introduced, I tried to puzzle it out mathmatically–how old Miss Marple was during WWI (she looked quite young in the flashback scene) and how old therefore she is supposed to be in the early 50’s.

I don’t have a copy of the first book (which is apparently Murder at the Vicarage) but she could have been 50-ish and been considered old then.

I have a picture of my grandmother when she was only 46 years old, and she already had the old-lady thing going on. And I have another picture with my great-grandmother when she was under 50, and she looks a total granny (white hair up in a knot, old lady dress). Standards for “old” were just very different then.

Here is an interesting paragraph from Wikipedia, I hope it is short enough to quote without violating copyright:

So, contrary to what I thought, and supporting your point, A Mirror Crack’d is one of the later ones and she should have been older and more frail. I still like Lansbury best!


Oh my Lord, I have nearly had a stroke at what they have done in the past series…2 of my favorite Agatha Christie mysteries, ***Ordeal by Innocence ***and ***Towards Zero ***(neither of which had Miss Marple in them, BTW) have been altered beyond recognition. I am almost afraid to watch any more…