Having admired lovable Miss Marple and Mr Stringer in MURDER SHE SAID dealing with a very special case of murders at the Ackenthorpe Hall, it seemed that hardly can they pursue a trail on their own more effectively. Nevertheless, she is daring enough to state in MURDER AT THE GALLOP powerfully: "We have us and our methods" and this bursts out in riveting thrill and entertainment.
MURDER AT THE GALLOP with magnificent Dame Margaret Rutherford in the lead, provides yet new sensations, thrills, secrets to unveil and goose skin to experience. Along with its obvious echoes of the first part, MURDER AT THE GALLOP is an altogether haunting, mysterious and absorbing experience. In what way?
A BIT OF ITS STORYLINE: An old mansion of the Enderby family...a shocking thing happens as Miss Marple and Mr Stringer open the front door of the mansion. The old Enderby (played by iconic MGM actor Finlay Currie) hauntingly falls dead on the staircase. Heart attack or murder? Presumably frightened to death of cats, the former reason seems more likely to be adequate even for the police inspector Craddock (Charles Tingwell). But for Miss Marple, falsely perceived by the Inspector as a 'busybody' who merely has 'tittle tattle to convey,' that will never be a satisfactory conclusion. She is frightened to death of nothing. Having 'snooped' the family gathering of the Enderbys she overhears a significant statement (when Mr Stringer again gives her a 'leg up') and proceeds in order to trap the killer. Travelling by bikes is enough to do more than best investigators in limousines. With a little bit of cooking skills (note this aspect) and a little bit of determination, events unexpectedly prove that the law might sometimes have a long arm but, unfortunately, to the great surprise of those who doubt her, that never resembles Miss Marple's proceedings...
MADAME RUTHERFORD AND OTHER MAINSTAYS: Echoing the previous part aids seeing Madame Rutherford in this film because her already familiar style constitutes the very core of entertainment and thrill. Again with some witty moments and cutting remarks that add the spicy aspect to the whole movie, MURDER AT THE GALLOP is a sole entertainment. Margaret Rutherford is outstanding in the role and her moments include some of the quintessential parts of the entire success of the movie. She proves again that Marple is her name but marble her nature... As a creative and gifted performer from the very start, she proves to dominate our attention considerably. Thanks to her well crafted performance, again, thrill is combined with humor and cutting tongue with the most honest intentions. Among many of the brilliant scenes, a mention must be made of her dance with Mr Stringer when she deliberately falls ill and he, in a disguised manner, 'hots it up' as well as hilarious horse-riding with Mr Hector Eckerby (Robert Morley). As for other mainstays like Stringer Davis and Charles Tingwell, the memorable performances clearly echo MURDER SHE SAID and there is no need to outline their contribution again. Let me, however, highlight some important merits of the supporting cast here.
TWO SUPPORTING CAST: Within the peculiar dynasty of the Enderbys, truly sophisticated characters emerge. As a matter of fact, the supporting cast who appear to be outstanding in their parts are Flora Robson and Robert Morley. While Ms Robson portrays the strangely calm, oddly suspicious type who catches our attention finally, Mr Morley handles the very essence of the film's psychological and humorous aspect. As a serious buff of the old furniture, a man 'saddled' in old manners and strict in human relations, a funny horse-rider who is a rather sympathetic comedian type provides wit brilliantly. The scene with pulling of the boots, for instance, is hilarious. As he was a friend of Dame Margaret Rutherford in real life, their scenes are played with ease and humor. When the events turn more intense and murder at the gallop becomes reality, he changes into a decent observer.
THE FILM'S EFFECT: The unique atmosphere of the MGM sets, make-believe tricks of the genre, the undertones of images, growing tensions and Ron Goodwin's catchy music score are just some of the aspects that contribute clearly to its good reputation as a silver screen product of the time.
If you liked MURDER SHE SAID, you will surely enjoy MURDER AT THE GALLOP and follow the wonderful investigation of the Agatha Christie's character so memorably portrayed by Madame Rutherford. The law might have a long arm, indeed, but Miss Marple...never! As she does not agree to keep her saddle at the Enderbys when their case is complete, she leaves with Mr Stringer and makes us look forward to more thrill of the genre.
A must see for Agatha Christie's fans who are less strict with the screen adaptations than the author herself.