Murder at the Gallop (1963)

Murder at the Gallop
Directed by George Pollock
Written by James P. Cavanagh based on a novel by Agatha Christie
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer British Studios
First viewing/Amazon Instant


Miss Jane Marple: Don’t look so frightened, my dear. I’ve done my quota of murders for today.

Margaret Rutherford shines as Miss Marple in this fun murder mystery.

Miss Marple discovers that a stingy old recluse has been frightened to death by the sudden appearance of a black cat.  At the reading of the will, she finds that his relations all qualify nicely as prime suspects.  This leads her to spend a weekend at The Gallop, a riding establishment/inn run by nephew Hector Enderby (Robert Morley).  She ferrets out the killer amidst even more murder.  With Flora Robson as a paid companion

Rutherford maintains a ridiculous dignity as she does everything from dancing the twist to riding to hounds.  Morley is a whole lot of fun as well.  Good for a rainy, or dry, afternoon.


The V.I.P.s (1963)

The V.I.P.s (1963)
Directed by Anthony Asquith
Written by Terence Rattigan
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/De Grunwald Productions
First viewing/Netflix rental

Frances Andros: I love you for what you are. Not what you think you are.

This was the lame melodrama I expected it to be.  I came for Margaret Rutherford, though, and she did not disappoint.

The setting is Heathrow Airport on a foggy morning.  It concerns people offered the hospitality of the airport’s VIP longue.  All are heading to New York and each has a private reason to absolutely require that the plane leaves on time.  Naturally, the plane cannot depart due to weather and they are forced to overnight at the airport hotel.

The principal story is a love triangle.  International beauty Frances Andros (Elizabeth Taylor) is leaving her tycoon husband Paul (Richard Burton) for playboy Marc Chamselle (Louis Jourdan).  Paul is not about to take this lying down.  We also have tractor maker Les Mangrum (Rod Taylor) who will lose his business in a take over if he cannot make good on a $150,000 check.  He is accompanied by the private secretary who is secretly in love with him (Maggie Smith).  With Margaret Rutherford as the dotty Duchess of Brighton, Orson Welles as a tax-dodging movie producer, and Elsa Martinelli as a starlet.

I have studiously avoided the movies from Liz Taylor’s black-eyeliner period that capitalize on her notorious love affair with Richard Burton.  This one met my expectations.  The screenplay is unbelievably soapy and I anticipated each of the plot developments by several minutes.  Rutherford is good fun though as is Orson Welles.

Margaret Rutherford won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.