In honor of the new film, some family friendlier flicks of the past that killed it on the big screen.
Margaret Rutherford did it. She was the one who ruined me, who made cinematic murder mysteries so entertaining. She did it with a knife in the conservatory, I’m pretty sure. Or was it a candlestick in the billiard room?
Let me back up a bit. When I was an impressionable youngster, my mom would sometimes take me to an old-timey movie theater that showed old-timey, black-and-white movies. And every now and then, the theater would screen a movie based on an Agatha Christie murder mystery, starring Dame Rutherford as Miss Marple, one of Christie’s most popular detectives.
While Rutherford wasn’t much like the Miss Marple in Christie’s books, she was pretty delightful anyway — frumpy and funny and oh-so-smart. And each movie became an opportunity for me, a scrawny junior high kid, to match wits with the legendary detective and try to figure out the killer before she did.
I lucked out once or twice.
I’ve loved those genteel, vaguely Victorian murder mysteries ever since. I have a bookcase filled with novels by Christie, Ngaio Marsh, P.D. James and the like, and I’ve read and seen enough whodunits to know that the butler doesn’t always do it. So naturally, I’ve been excited to review the Murder on the Orient Express remake, starring Kenneth Branagh and his truly titanic mustache. It’s out in theaters this weekend.
In honor of Murder (but not, y’know, actual murder), let’s take a look at some movies that truly killed on the big screen — and encouraged the audience to track down the killer.