Murder at the Gallop (1963)


(director: George Pollock; screenwriters: from the Agatha Christie novel After the Funeral/James P. Cavanagh; cinematographer: Arthur Ibbetson; editor: Bert Rule; music: Ron Goodwin; cast: Margaret Rutherford (Miss Marple), Stringer Davis (Mr. Stringer), Robert Morley (Hector Enderby), Flora Robson (Miss Gilchrist), Charles Tingwell (Inspector Craddock), Gordon Harris (Sergeant Bacon), Robert Urquhart (George Crossfield), Katya Douglas (Rosamund Shane), James Villiers (Michael Shane), Noel Howlett (Mr. Trundell), Finlay Currie (Old Enderby), Duncan Lamont (Hillman); Runtime: 82; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: George H. Brown/Lawrence P. Bachmann; Warner Bros.; 1963-UK)

“Enjoyable and competently made standard whodunit in the Miss Marple series.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

George Pollock (“Murder Ahoy”/”Murder, She Said”) directs this enjoyable and competently made standard whodunit in the Miss Marple series, that’s elevated by the presence of Robert Morley. It’s based on the Agatha Christie novel After the Funeral with a screenplay by James P. Cavanagh.

When the elderly and dumpy looking amateur sleuth Miss Marple (Margaret Rutherford) and her librarian friend Jim Stringer (Stringer Davis) are in their country neighborhood collecting for one of her favorite charities, “The Reformed Criminals Assistance League,” they witness the death of the elderly, wealthy, reclusive Old Man Enderby (Finlay Currie). He apparently fell to his death but she suspects foul play and contradicts the police Inspector Craddock’s (Charles Tingwell) deduction that it was a natural death due to a heart attack brought about by his fear of cats.

Miss Marple finds a way to listen in on the reading of the dead man’s will without an invite and learns that his enormous estate will be divided among these four relatives: his estranged art-loving sister Cora, his finagling art dealer fourth cousin George Crossfield (Robert Urquhart), his aggressive and attractive married niece Rosamund Shane (Katya Douglas), and his stout equestrian Gallop riding academy inn owner Hector Enderby (Robert Morley). When Cora, who at the reading said one of the family members members murdered Old Man Enderby, soon turns up murdered with a hat pin, the harried inspector decides to team up with Miss Marple to get the killer. Miss Marple becomes a guest at the Gallop, as Cora’s long-time companion Miss Gilchrist (Flora Robson) also has been invited to stay by Hector. There Miss Marple witnesses the three remaining survivors get into a dispute of possessing a supposedly worthless painting belonging to the murdered sister, which is actually an old French masterpiece worth at least fifty thousand pounds. To smoke out the killer, Miss Marple in a sleeveless evening gown at a dance held at the inn, does the twist with the equally aged Mr. Stringer and fakes a heart attack. This gets her a room alone in the inn, where the killer attacks her fearing the sleuth knows too much. Miss Marple holds off the killer long enough until the police arrive.

It sets a nice countrified upper-crust equestrian atmosphere, and does a better job with its comical intentions than in laying down its far-fetched plot line in credible terms.