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Truly Miss Marple – The Curious Case of Margaret Rutherford

Of the many actresses who have played the role of Agatha Christie’s genteel fictional sleuth Miss Jane Marple in cinema and television, the London-born thespian Margaret Rutherford probably remains the most memorable (if admittedly not the most faithful to the literary original). Throughout much of her movie career Rutherford portrayed the quintessential upper middle-class Englishwomen of a certain age, either imperious as in the 1952 dramatisation of The Importance of Being Earnest or eccentric as in 1945’s supernatural romance, Blithe Spirit. With a rare gift for comedy she became a reliable character actor in theatre and films from the 1930s to the ’60s, featuring in both domestic and international productions. From 1961 to 1964 she starred in four lighthearted – and very loose – adaptations of several different stories by Christie: Murder She Said, Murder at the GallopMurder Most Foul and Murder Ahoy. However her own life was anything but lighthearted, darkened by childhood tragedy, murder and madness. The 2012 German documentary, Truly Miss Marple – The Curious Case of Margaret Rutherford, investigates all of this in a rather poignant and at times appropriately eccentric manner. It includes her family relationship with the late Labour Party MP, Tony Benn, an almost legendary figure in Britain’s left-wing politics and a close friend of Ireland during the worse years of the conflict in the UK-occupied Six Counties.

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