Jan 8, 2010

Review~ Miss Marple: Ordeal by Innocence (2007)

Move over, Jessica Fletcher!
There's another crime-solving old lady in town...
and this one is wearing a cute hat.

Seeing "Miss Marple: Ordeal by Innocence" reminded me of watching "Murder, She Wrote"
with my grandma as a kid.  [Side note: I later found out that "Murder, She Wrote" is loosely based
on Agatha Christie's Miss Marple series and that Angela Lansbury (who plays Jessica Fletcher) also
played Miss Marple in "The Mirror Crack'd."]  For that grandma-bonding sentimental memory alone,
I would have enjoyed this movie, but there were many other things I liked as well.

First of all, seeing Richard Armitage in another role was great!
This year I want to view the RA films I haven't seen yet and this movie was a great way to start.
The plot revolves around the Argyle family.  Richard portrays Philip Durrant, who is married
to their oldest daughter, Mary.  Philip may look good in a tux, but he's a gold digger and cheater.
Photobucket  Photobucket

I loved getting caught up in the story and guessing game.
It takes an interesting plot to distract me from Richard's screen presence,
but I became engrossed in the storyline of this movie.

Here's an overview:
(there may be a few spoilers, although I've tried to avoid too many)

Rachel Argyle (Jane Seymour) is the wealthy matriarch of the Argyle family, who adopted
6 underprivileged children with her husband, Leo.  She meant well, but showed her children little love.
She is found murdered one evening, a few hours after arguing with her son Jacko (Burn Gorman)
who had attacked and threatened to kill her after she refused to give him money for his debts.

Jacko is arrested and executed for the murder of his mother.
The Argyle family is saddened by both losses, but eventually move on with life.

Two years later...

Most of the Argyle family members are happy and making plans for the future.
Philip, however, has been disabled due to polio and everyone mentions his grumpiness. 
I guess I'd be grumpy too if I were aged prematurely by being dependant on a wheelchair,
donning an old man hat and being wrapped up in blankets and an ugly gray sweater. 

Miss Marple comes into the picture when she's invited to the Argyle residence for a wedding.
While the family is enjoying an evening together, a stranger appears and reveals there is proof  that Jacko
had been innocent.  They're all shocked to discover that he'd been wrongly accused and executed.
"How dare you interrupt our awesome game of charades with such bad news!"
The news is a blow to the Argyle family, who were the only ones home on the night of the murder.
Immediately, suspicions are raised and everyone is now a suspect.
Sadly, every person in the family had something to gain by Rachel Argyle's death.

The viewer is left guessing, who did it???

Was it Leo Argyle?

~Author and patriarch of the family,
who had been under his wife's disapproving thumb for years.

Was it Gwenda?

~Friend of Miss Marple and Leo's secretary,
who has secretly been in love with him all along.

Was it Bobby Argyle?

~Twin brother of Jacko, who acts a bit fishy.

Was it Philip or Mary Durrant?

~Both want the inheritance money.
Before her death, Rachel Argyle discovered Philip has things to hide.

Was it Mrs. Lindstrom?

~The bossy housekeeper and eyes/ears of the household.

Was it Mickey, Tina or Hester?
~Youngest children in the Argyle family who all show odd behavior
and are bitter about their adoptions.

Miss Marple immediately starts digging around, finding clues on her own to solve the mystery.
Why leave it up to Inspector Huish when he got it wrong the first time?

With the help of Dr. Arthur Calgary, Miss Marple is able to put the pieces of the
puzzle together and announces the true identity of the killer.

It may be unfair to compare two productions, but I was reminded of "Malice Aforethought"
which I also viewed for the first time recently. Malice and Ordeal are both murder mysteries
based on novels, and Philip shares some similarities with Bill Chatford, which I may focus on later.
However, unlike Malice, "Ordeal by Innocence" doesn't reveal the murder until the very end,
leaving the viewer constantly guessing who committed the crime.  There are all sorts of
twists and turns... and as soon as I thought I knew who the killer was, I'd change my mind
and begin suspecting someone else.  I have to say I enjoyed Ordeal much more than Malice.
I highly recommend watching this one, and not just to see the handsome Richard Armitage.

My favorite characters were the intelligent Miss Marple (Geraldine McEwan)
and the nerdy, sputtering Dr. Calgary (Julian Rhind-Tutt.)
They were both adorable.

Sorry, Philip.  You're just too much of a jerk to like...
despite your Gisborne smirk and disability that should urge sympathy.
If you had sideburns, I may reconsider.
I did like seeing you in a tux, so I'll give you points there.

(Richard should take that as a compliment
due to his fine portrayal of another baddie.)

By the way, Americans, Durrant is pronounced
Dur-"int" not "ant" like I'd always thought.

One last thing: I was shocked to find out our little Miss Marple
at one time was the scary witch lady on "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves!"
To avoid giving you nightmares and tainting your view of the sweet old lady,
I won't display a picture here.  What an awesome actress!

Thanks to Richard Armitage Net, Richard Armitage Online and Richard Armitage Central
for supplying wonderful screen caps, as well as other various online sources.


Sue said...

I loved how the private investigator described Richard's chracter as "a leg-over merchant". I'm sure I don't need to elaborate on the meaning of that!

Didn't like the character at all and thought he was a randy, mean-spirited git! (Albeit lovely with it!)

Shame about the wheelchair. I think that was meant to be a red-herring.

Avalon said...

I still have not seen this movie. Good review though. It is just too sad to see R.A in a wheelchair.
I had unsubscribe from your last post...sorry...but they lost me and journeyed too far off the subject. I am a fan of R.A but I am not that emotionally involved.

Miss Eliza said...

I was so sad when they got ride of her as Marple... the perfect Marple in my mind!

Greek RA fan said...

Not a leading role for RA, I've seen the episode expecting more of RA but I guess he was not yet well known at the time.

After all, after N&S his next leading role as Dr Alex in "The Golden hour" wasn't a big hit. I dont really know whom to blame, the Tv show was something like "Trauma" not bad at all, but cancelled after only 4 episodes (mayby Nat you could dig deeper for us pls)

Again Nat thanks for the review.

Twinkling Moon said...

Ordeal was the first thing I saw RA in I think, I was not impressed, moved by him in any way at the time. However, later on when I saw N&S I just fell for the guy, having absolutely no recollection of ever seeing him before, wasn't until later when I looked up other RA works did I realize he was in Ordeal. I actually watched that movie when it aired on PBS because I like Jane Seymour! Eveybody else was incidental.

anyhow, Nat, I agree with you. when I watched it I couldn't figure out "who dunn it" and now I can't remember. THat might be worth rewatching :)

Myrtle said...

Lovely review Nat. I saw 'O by I' for the first time a few weeks ago and enjoyed it, a quaint, gentle, mystery thriller. Richard can play the Cad, can't he!!! :D
I seem to recall that RA did an interview with Lorraine Kelly on GMTV, ?2007 where he discussed playing PD and what it was like to be in a wheelchair. (RAOnline)

Out of interest do you guys in the States get 'Inspector Morse', it's great, unfortunately RA wasn't in it.

Keep up the good work Nat, this Blog is never boring!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Twinkling Moon said...

@ Myrtle, yep, Inspector Morse used to air in the States on the one-nonprofit, partly gov't subsidized tv network we have, PBS. That's where all the British shows/specials air pretty much. Anyhow, IM used to come on as part of the Mystery! series they have. But haven't shown any in quite awhile. I think now they show a continuation of the story with IM sidekick as the lead. Can't remember the name of the series or the actor, but I do remember Laurence Fox costars in it.

mulubinba said...

I enjoyed OBI very much indeed. Nice review, Nat! I saw a lot of Gisborne in Phillip. (Similar gestures, manners etc).

Starheart said...

To think that the author and patriarch of this family is played by the same nasty driver from the 'sensitive skin' clip with annabel!

Mulubinba said...

Well spotted Ragtag!! I confess I had to look up Sensitive Skin on Imdb to see what you were referring to. Annabel and Denis Lawson (Leo) were both in that series.

MTA Nat: I've been away for 3 days so haven't had a chance to comment on the post below. I've been composing a comment in draft but after 126 posts, what can I add that hasn't been talked about already??

Myrtle said...

Twinklingmoon - I think the series is called 'Lewis', for a follow on drama it was also rather good.

Ragtag- I think the chap in OBI and sensitive skin was also in an episode of RH too. He was the guy in S2, I think, who wants to buy Surrey and Marion from the Sherrif, it was very funny!!

Anonymous said...

Although I enjoyed this film, RA's agent should definitely work harder (Ordeal was made 3 years after N&S). He's a great actor and I'd love to see him on a big screen in some good British film... (e.g. Guy Ritchie...? :-) He would be awesome:-)

Starheart said...

Myrtle that's right!!
I love that episode, when the sheriff chucks a tanty cos he's just lost SURREY!

And the end when they ride back to town on the same horse.

Joan Crenshaw said...

I was just looking at the poll on what we've all seen and I am vaguely embarassed that I am the only one who has seen Cleopatra. I actually bought it used at Blockbuster because I love Philip Quast whose character is killed by our Richard. I was COMPLETELY surprised at that.

Twinkling Moon said...

@Myrtle, you're right, it was called Lewis. I enjoyed that series.

@Mulubinba, after having visited the comments on the previous post, I'm with ya, not much left to say so i'm cutting myself off of reading the comments over there, a girl can really get lost in that conversation, lol!

Didn't know Ordeal was 3 years post N&S, maybe RA does have a different agent now because it seems like he is a busy guy running from project to project, which is fine with me, more RA screen time for us all to enjoy :)

Greek RA fan said...

@Eva you are right, I've too found it disappointing such a small part after N&S.

Of course we should consider that UK is not Hollywood, tv shows are normally about 6-8episodes per period (in USA 22-24)less TV channels. Unless he find a hit big-screen role (as others British actors such as Gerald Butler in 300, or Clive Owen) he will always face difficulties (admit it he will not last long in Spooks - always a leading hero dies after 2-3 seasons, he already has 2)

To RA agents: We want more of Richard.

Sue said...

I loved Richard (not) in his "old man's hat" as Nat described it. Actually my dad used to wear one just like that (another Richard) coming from the north of England we are big on hats (to keep warm). I have a picture of my dad in his demob suit after he left the RAF in the 1940's wearing the same hat! Actually he loved it so much that when I saw one at a jumble sale as a kid in the 1970's I bought it for 20p! He wore it for years! By the way they were commonly called a "Pork Pie Hat", don't ask me why, but you always made sure the hat dipped in the middle by a chopping motion with your hand. (My dad also had a striped blue RAF tie, also purchased from a jumble sale!) I'm very tight when it comes to money! These days I go to car boot sales. My dad was also keen on wearing flat caps, but please no, don't let Richard take up wearing one of those! They're horrible!

Sue said...

I know Richard's role in this wasn't huge but I don't see how anyone can complain about his agent in getting him the role.I doubt if Richard thought it beneath him. It pays the bills let's face it and there were some well known faces amongst them such as Jane Seymour, who has acted in Hollywood and appears for only a short time in the drama, less than Richard!

My favourite Miss Marple actress will always be the inimitable Margaret Rutherford, a formidable and eccentric lady indeed.

Back to the topic of Richard's agent, Duncan Millership, has it crossed anyone elses mind that Richard may still keep Duncan as his agent? When Duncan moved from PDF to United Agents Richard made the decision to stay with him, rather than stay with PDF, so who knows in this global computer dominated world of ours why should any move to America make any difference? Indeed, Richard may decide to go for it in the USA and try his luck over there. I think his agent has done pretty well by him so far and if I were Richard I would be loathe to change at this stage in my career.

One more thing, I now realise why Richard hates red carpet occasions. If I'd been faced with that media scrum he and Annabel faced the other week I'd probably have taken one look at them and turned tail and buggered off home for a quiet cup of tea and a hobnob. Having to put up with photographers telling me to turn this way and that would have really pissed me off. No, definitely wouldn't be for me either. I'm surprised Richard went at all, but then I suppose in the acting business the art of networking is all.

Did anyone else notice the trouser suit that Esther Rantzen wore? I thought she looked great in that, stylish, yet warm. I've got a fur hat just like hers too. Must have been to Marks and Sparks, that's where I got mine from anyway. Wonder where the suit came from?

@Rob said...

I wish I could find these to watch on-line. So bummed! Would love to see more RA stuff since Spooks and RH are both over.

La Boricua said...

4/20/19 Ive read she RETIRED from the role & was not FIRED. I dont know the reasons why Ms McEwan retiredbut I enjoyed her immensely. If you see photos of her when she was in her 20s ... she was stunning.