Cast & Crew
While collecting for one of her favorite charities, "The Reformed Criminals Assistance League," Miss Marple and her librarian friend, Mr. Stringer, see an elderly recluse named Mr. Enderby fall to his death after being frightened by a cat. Immediately suspecting foul play, Miss Marple listens in on the reading of the dead man's will and learns that his estate will be divided among four relatives. Miss Marple also overhears Enderby's sister declare that her brother was murdered; before any further sleuthing can be accomplished, the sister is also slain. The dead woman's companion, Miss Gilchrist, suspects Miss Marple of the crime, but she is cleared by the long-suffering Inspector Craddock. Determined to solve the mystery, Miss Marple moves into the riding academy inn, The Gallop, which is owned by Enderby's nephew, Hector. She discovers that the three surviving relatives are all anxious to obtain a supposedly worthless painting belonging to the murdered sister. The painting is actually an old French masterpiece worth a fortune. After the murder of another relative, George Crossfield, Miss Marple deduces the identity of the killer but still lacks the proof. Miss Marple fakes a heart attack while dancing the Twist after pretending to have evidence enough to convict the killer, and she permits herself to be placed in a room alone. The murderer, Miss Gilchrist, attacks, but Miss Marple is able to hold her off until Inspector Tingwell arrives. As she prepares to leave The Gallop, Hector proposes marriage, but Miss Marple gracefully declines.
Lawrence P. Bachmann
Lawrence P. Bachmann
George H. Brown
James P. Cavanagh
J. B. Smith
A. W. Watkins
Murder at the Gallop
Though Miss Marple made Margaret Rutherford popular, it was a role that she nearly turned down. "Murder, you see, is not the sort of thing I could get close to. I don't like anything that tends to lower or debase or degrade. But then a friend and I talked it over and she pointed out that it could be entertaining and might indeed have a moral value, of a sort. And one likes to throw one's weight in on the side of good, doesn't one?"
The story of Murder at the Gallop begins with Miss Marple raising money to rehabilitate convicts. When she goes to the home of the elderly Mr. Enderby (played by Finlay Currie), she finds that he has died of a heart attack brought on by a cat. As she always did, Miss Marple investigates with the help of her companion, Mr. Stringer (Stringer Davis, in a role that was created for him at Rutherford's request). Riley, McAllister and Symons write in their book, The Bedside, Bathtub & Armchair Companion to Agatha Christie, that Davis was more than just Rutherford's co-star in the films; he "was Miss Rutherford's husband, best friend, and biggest fan. Every morning before shooting began he would rise early, prepare breakfast (tea), and then go wake his wife (who would usually sleep through the clock's alarm). Together they would rehearse the lines for the scenes to be shot that day, making cuts or breaking up speeches to make memorization easier. On the set he saw to it that she was always well supplied with her favorite ginger chocolates or peppermint creams. He made sure that her lunch - soup, cheese, and biscuits was sent to her dressing room. Then he would spend some time personally answering her fan mail because it was his wife's opinion that those who cared enough to write deserved a reply. The magic of this special relationship is evident in their scenes together in the series. When Miss Marple turns down the marriage proposals of James Robertson Justice in Murder She Said  or Robert Morley in Murder at the Gallop, we know why."
Rutherford had worked with Robert Morley before Murder at the Gallop. In 1935, she appeared in his play Short Story and co-starred with him in the film Curtain Up (1952). Her other costars were respected character actress Flora Robson and Australian actor Charles "Bud" Tingwell reprising his role as Inspector Craddock. Tingwell, who became an Australian institution, was given a state funeral when he died in May 2009 at the age of 86.
Murder at the Gallop had its premiere in a tent at a church garden party in rural Cheshire (most likely for a fund-raiser as Margaret Rutherford was fond of doing charity works) before its American release in June 1963. It was well received and some film critics saw it as the lightweight entertainment it was meant to be. Bosley Crowther of the New York Times wrote of Rutherford "Playing the forceful Miss Marple, as she did in Murder She Said, this chummy old muffin-faced actress puffs her cheeks, cocks her head, squints her eyes when she's stricken with suspicion, whips her sturdy tweed cape about herself and finally exclaims with eyes flashing, "Now we can proceed with certainty!" At one point, to clinch a deft maneuver, she even performs the twist, supported by her husband, Stringer Davis. That's good for a nice genteel laugh. Companionable, too, is Robert Morley as the stout proprietor of the riding residence, who is so carried away with admiration for Miss Marple that he proposes marriage to her. Evidently she is quite accomplished at helping him off with his boots."
As for Agatha Christie, the creator of Miss Marple, while she enjoyed Rutherford's performances, she did not think her very much like the Marple she created. However, she was no fan of the series, often arguing with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer over scripts and characterizations; calling Murder at the Gallop "incredibly silly." The London Times agreed, "[T]he whole thing is happily calculated to convince foreigners yet again that everything they have been told about the English is absolutely true and only a trifle understated."
Producer: George H. Brown; Lawrence P. Bachmann (uncredited)
Director: George Pollock
Screenplay: James P. Cavanagh; Agatha Christie (novel "After the Funeral")
Cinematography: Arthur Ibbetson
Art Direction: Frank White
Music: Ron Goodwin
Film Editing: Bert Rule
Cast: Margaret Rutherford (Miss Marple), Stringer Davis (Mr. Stringer), Robert Morley (Hector Enderby), Flora Robson (Miss Milchrest), Charles Tingwell (Inspector Craddock), Gordon Harris (Sergeant Bacon), Robert Urquhart (George Crossfield), Katya Douglas (Rosamund Shane), James Villiers (Michael Shane), Noel Howlett (Mr. Trundell), Finlay Currie (Old Enderby), Duncan Lamont (Hillman), Kevin Stoney (Doctor Markwell).
BW-81m. Letterboxed. Closed Captioning.
by Lorraine LoBianco
"Actress Margaret Rutherford at 71: The Old Girl Still Kicks Up" Life Magazine 1 Oct. 1963
Crowther, Bosley "Tea with Miss Rutherford: Murder at the Gallop Opens at Beekman" New York Times 23 Jun 1963
Pitts, Michael R. Famous Movie Detectives II
Robertson, Patrick Film Facts
Riley, Dick, McAllister, Pam, and Symons, Julian The Bedside, Bathtub & Armchair Companion to Agatha Christie Shaw, Marion and Vanacker, Sabine Reflecting on Miss Marple
Murder at the Gallop
The Agatha Christie Miss Marple Collection - Margaret Rutherford as Miss Marple in 4 Films on DVD
To order The Miss Marple Collection, go to
The first film, Murder, She Said, is the only one based on a Miss Marple novel (The 4:50 from Paddington). Miss Marple sees a murder being committed on a train running on a parallel track, but when the police fail to turn up any sign of a body and see no case to pursue, Miss Marple decides to take the case on herself. She determines that the only place along that particular stretch of railway that a body could've been tossed from the train without being seen is at Ackenthorp Hall. She manages to get a job as a maid at the Hall, and soon discovers the body in sarcophagus, which brings in Instpector Craddock (Charles Tingwell) and his men. But it's Miss Marple along with her sidekick Mr. Stringer (Striger Davis, Rutherford's real-life husband. Ironically, Joan Hixson, who would later become known as the definitive Miss Marple on the long-running BBC series, has a small part as a maid.
Murder at the Gallop is based on the Hercule Poirot novel After the Funeral. The not-so-unexpected heart attack of a rich man is written off as death by natural causes until Miss Marple discovers that the diseased had a pathological fear of cats, and someone had hidden a cat in the man's house so that he would come on it unawares. Once again the police have no intention of looking into Miss Marple's theory, so she checks into the Gallop Hotel, a horse riding establishment where all of the dead man's heirs are staying, and launches her investigation. But before long there are more deaths. Murder at the Gallop guest stars Robert Morley as the head of the family, who ends up hoping that Miss Marple will permanently keep her saddle at the Gallop.
Murder, Most Foul is also based on a Hercule Poirot novel, Mrs. McGinty's Dead. Miss Marple serves on a jury where she is convinced that the accused is not guilty – of course, the other eleven jurists feel otherwise. When the trial ends in a hung jury and the trial rescheduled, Miss Marple is on the move to solve the case. She traces McGinty's connections to a theatrical company that had just past through town. The struggling company, run by Driffold Cosgood (Ron Moody), is all too happy to take on a wealthy novice who wants to act (namely, Miss Marple). No sooner is Marple on the scene than the cast members start dropping off one by one. To solve the murders, Miss Marple must figure out the identity of an illegitimate child of a former actress. The cast includes Francesca Annis, who would later star in the series Agatha Christie's Tommy and Tuppence: Partners in Crime.
The last film in the set, Murder Ahoy, finds Miss Marple appointed to the board of a school for wayward boys that is housed on the frigate The Battledorn, which is moored in the harbor. At their first meeting, one of the other board members takes a sniff of snuff and promptly drops dead. In the confusion that follows the snuff is stolen from the box. The board member had been upset about something he'd discovered on visiting The Battledorn, so Of course, Miss Marple decides to pay the Battledorn a visit herself, and once there finds that everyone on board appears to have a secret...and some of those secrets will lead to murder.
The four Rutherford Marple movies may not come close to representing Agatha Christie's creation, but they are delightful, entertaining films in their own right, best enjoyed if you don't actually think of them as true Miss Marple adaptations.
Warner Bros.' new set offers four splendid transfers, stuck from source material that in remarkable crisp and clean condition. The audio is also in excellent condition, with no sign of deterioration and crystal clear tone quality. The disc includes the trailers for all four films.
For more information about The Miss Marple Collection, visit Warner Video.
by Fred Hunter
The Agatha Christie Miss Marple Collection - Margaret Rutherford as Miss Marple in 4 Films on DVD To order The Miss Marple Collection, go to TCM Shopping.
Like Murder Most Foul (1964), this movie was adapted from a Poirot novel, not a Miss Marple novel.
Released in Great Britain in 1963.