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It’s a Mystery on Lame Post Friday

Today I was not feeling well and decided to take the day off.  I already had the day off work, so it was only a matter of letting myself off the hook regarding household chores.  I had already mowed the back lawn when I decided, so I can comfort myself with the thought that at least I did something.   A day off blogging, however, is a much more serious proposition, especially on Lame Post Friday.

I would love to be at such a cocktail hour.

Earlier today, we watched Evil Under the Sun, a star studded Agatha Christie romp.  In fact, that is how I expressed it to Steven when I suggested a movie, “I could get into a star studded Agatha Christie romp.”  I do love a good old movie, especially one featuring the divine Maggie Smith.

Since the movie, I have been looking at regular television in a rather desultory fashion.  At least I have gotten some crocheting done.

One of my favorite movie couples.

Here is a scene from another Agatha Christie adaptation we recently viewed, Witness for the Prosecution.  Although the cast includes Charles Laughton, Else Lanchester, Tyrone Power, and Marlene Dietrich, it is not a star studded Agatha Christie romp.  Nonetheless, it is an excellent movie, directed by Billy Wilder.


Who killed Benny the Bootlegger?

This was not an Agatha Christie,  but it was definitely a romp and we like to feel it is star studded.  It is the LiFT,  Little Falls Theatre Company, production of the interactive murder mystery, Rubbed Out at Ruby’s.  Regular readers may remember that it was written by me.  Do I flatter myself by including my mystery in a post about Agatha Christie?   I daresay I do.  Then again, a healthy ego is an asset for writers and actors.  Happy Friday, everyone!



Apparently My Brain Would Die

Once again we did not watch enough movies for a Sunday Cinema post.  I had high hopes when we enjoyed  The Haunting (1963) fairly early on.

I had to scroll through my Media Library twice to find this.

I figured I might as well share a picture, to pep the post up.  After the movie we put it on Snapped while Steve fixed us some food, and we kind of got stuck on it.  Full disclosure: I’ve also been reading an Agatha Christie book.

A perennial favorite.

In the meantime, it is Wrist to Forehead Sunday.  I proudly posted on Facebook this morning my intention to be useless and not worry about it.  I was half right.  I was useless but a little worried about things I have not gotten done.  Perhaps I could still do something before bed.  Then again, I still haven’t finished that book…

Love the side eye.

There are also other movies to be watched. The Brain That Wouldn’t Die (1962) is what caught my eye first just now.

Is it clear by now that I am a little brain dead?  I took a decongestant earlier.  Drugs!  Either they don’t work at all, they work but dope me up, or they don’t work but still dope me up.  In this case, I feel marginally decongested as well as doped up, so I have to call it a win.

I am over 200 words, making my Sunday post on Sunday,  so I’ll call that a win too.  I hope to see you all on Monstrous Monday.


Agatha to Axes, it’s Slacker Saturday

I have not had a Slacker Saturday post in a while, and I have certainly had a slacker day today.  My husband, Steven, and I just hung out and relaxed.  We watched a few movies, though, so I will attempt a Saturday Cinema post before going back to relaxing.

Where, or where can I get a hat like that?

We started our viewing with Death on the Nile, a star-studded Agatha Christie which I love.  The above picture is Angela Lansbury in the truly delicious role of Salome Ottorbourne, writer of lurid romance novels and murder suspect.

After Death on the Nile, I was in the Agatha Christie mood so suggested we watch Ten Little Indians (1965) ,which I had DVR’d from TCM recently.  This is not to be confused with And Then There Were None (1945), which we own on DVD.  Both are based on the same book, of course.  However, in the 1945 version, the characters are on an island, as they are in the book.  In the version we watched today, they ride a cable car up a mountain.  I looked but could not find a picture of the movie we saw today.  How’s that for slacking?

Now we are watching a favorite of ours: Strait-Jacket (1964).  A William Castle thriller starring Joan Crawford as an ax murderess, how could I not love it?

Severed heads can be such bed hogs.

I suppose we should have saved it for a Severed Head Sunday.  I haven’t had one of those in a while either.  As for today, I feel my slacking off has extended to my blog post.  But at least I have included a couple of pictures. I’ll close with another of Joan.  Happy Saturday, everyone.

This is representative of the sort of editing some of my blog posts probably need.


Sunday Cinema

I think I am going to change my Sunday feature to Sunday Cinema, because our favorite thing to do on Sunday is to watch movies.  We have been enjoying a few flicks today, and I will list them, with illustrations.

Hugging with eyes open is, of course, movie and TV shorthand for being up to no good.

We DVR’d The Bad Seed some time ago (oh, Sept. 9, according to this poster I found on Facebook) and finally got around to watching it today.  What a disappointment!  We are longtime fans of the 1956 movie with Patty McCormick, although we have problems with that one too.  I may write an entire blog post about it, but, um, not today.

Check out the psycho eyes!

Next Steven suggested we watch Murder on the Orient Express (1974), because yesterday was Agatha Christie’s birthday and today is Lauren Bacall’s.  We have yet to catch the 2017 remake of that. Rats!  This could have been Remake Sunday!  It lacks alliteration, but I like it.

There’s the birthday girl, with another favorite of ours, Albert Finney (I don’t know who the fellow in the background is, although the one cut off is Martin Balsam).

Next I got to pick and I chose Psycho (1960), because it is a Halloween movie.

“We all go a little mad sometimes.”

After Psycho I put on Snapped, but Steven preferred to watch another movie.  He decided to continue the Agatha Christie theme with Witness for the Prosecution (1957).  I am delighted to see this old favorite again.

Two more of my favorites: Elsa Lanchester and Charles Laughton.

So now I must stop blogging and go back to movie viewing. After all, it is Agatha Christie.  Happy Sunday, everyone.


Hitchcock to Betty White to Agatha Christie: It’s Wrist to Forehead Sunday

I pause in our movie watching (actually I have not paused the movie, I add in the interest of strict accuracy) to make my Wrist to Forehead Sunday post.  I am indeed about to swoon, from the head and humidity today.  I don’t care for extreme heat, especially wet, sticky heat, but never mind that.  I shall instead talk about the movies we have been watching, because I think I have pictures of all of them in my Media Library.

One of our all time favorites!

We began with Rear Window, an excellent movie to watch in the hot weather, because it takes place during a heat wave, in the days before air conditioning.  At least, before lots of people had air conditioning; I’m too hot and tired to look up when it was actually invented.

I think today was even too warm to enjoy riding around in a convertible, but these two seem to be having a fine time.

We continued the Alfred Hitchcock theme with It Takes a Thief, which also stars Grace Kelly, so it was kind of a Grace Kelly theme as well.  However, we did not continue with a theme, because we could not decide where to go next.  Finally Steven suggested Lake Placid, as a fun, entertaining movie, and I agreed.  We enjoyed it.

This is a shot of all the major characters. While still monster movie, I feel it is a character driven device.


Lake Placid is a silly movie with did not get a lot of critic love, but I think it has good characters and an involving plot.  I will say I think it is a cheap laugh to have Betty White saying vulgar cuss words, but that is really a small part of the flick.

I perhaps should have looked for a picture with more of the actors, but I do like this shot.

The last one we have watched so far was Evil Under the Sun, a star-studded Agatha Christie romp.  I do love my star-studded Agatha Christie movies.  Perhaps we will watch another one next.

If this has been a dull blog post, I apologize. However, it is really, really warm in here and I need to get this laptop off my lap. Happy Sunday, everyone.


Murder Book, Prison Movie, It’s Wrist to Forehead Sunday!

One of my favorites, and I like the movie just as much.

I pause in re-reading an Agatha Christie novel to make my Wrist to Forehead Sunday post.  I like to read a fast paperback on a Sunday.  Steven is watching a movie.  I told him to pick what he would like, because I was reading.  He chose Shawshank Redemption, which I got him for his birthday.  I forgot how heavy this movie is.  Steven pointed out to me how I reference it all the time, by “doing Shawshank Redemption” when it rains.

I do it with my shirt on.

Now that I’m reading Death on the Nile again, I want to see that movie.  It is a star-studded Agatha Christie romp (which I believe I have written a blog post about).  It is also an excellent adaptation.  There are differences between the movie and book, but I can see why they made the changes they did.  Let me see if I can find a good picture from the movie.

I REALLY wanted a hat like this for “Rubbed Out at Ruby’s.”

I couldn’t get the full cast picture to download (you know me and computers), but here is the best character in the flick, Angela Lansbury as Salome Otterbourne.  This is one of the characters that is changed somewhat in the movie, into a definitely more theatrical version.  I love it.  Maybe we can watch that movie next.  First I need to finish re-reading the book.


Murder on Monday

Don’t get your hopes up;  I haven’t murdered anybody.  However, I have Agatha Christie on the mind today.  Why not muse about murder on Mental Meanderings Monday?  Yes, sometimes I just can’t help myself with the alliteration.  Well, here is a title with no alliteration: Death on the Nile.  It is one of my favorite movies.

I could only find a picture of the book. Sorry.

The movie is really a very good adaptation.  The book has a lot more characters and complications.  It is a little too much for me to compare/contrast right now.

OK, I guess it’s time for me to admit, this is another foolish post.  I can’t help it.  I’m tired, I have a headache, it was a difficult weekend.  No matter.  I shall post what I can and drive on.  I’ve been on the Agatha Christie Facebook page looking for pictures to share.  I fear I have not had much luck.

It was originally published under the title of 10 Little [something politically incorrect].

This is another movie adaptation which takes liberties.  I have seen a few versions of this, as well as acting in on on the Ilion Little Theatre stage.  I like it.

Now I must find one more picture to share, because I like to include three.  Hmmm….

Diana Rigg, Maggie Smith and Denis Quilley.

Pay dirt!  Here is a divine photo from Evil Under the Sun, another very good adaptation.  I will write another post discussing what makes a good adaptation and why I like these.  Today, I’m afraid it is beyond me.  I think I’ll go watch a couple of movies.


Murder Movie Monday?

Spoiler Alert!  I’m going to completely give away the plot, solution, big reveal and dramatic conclusion of 10 Little Indians also known as And Then There Were None.

I was in the play version of this Agatha Christie classic, having formerly read the book and the play. Steven and I own a DVD of And Then There Were None (1945).  When they did Agatha Christie Day on TCM, I DVR’d 10 Little Indians  (1966) and finally got around to watching it sometime later (full disclosure:  it was not the first time I’ve seen it).  I wrote about it even later than than, then discovered it in my notebook, and we watched our DVD yesterday with the idea that I could write about both movies today.

The original story is set on an island, the classic isolated place to murder people.  The 1966 version changes things up by bringing the characters up a treacherous snow-covered mountain in  a cable car.  The characters are different, too.  The judgmental spinster is replaced by a glamorous actress.  Fabian plays the spoiled, arrogant young man.  In the original, this character is a rich ne’er-do-well.  In the movies he is a singer hired to entertain the guests.

Both movies make use of this handy character, who sits down at the piano and sings the ditty about the 10 Little Indians.  Both movies also have one character murmur to another to hang in there (or words to that effect), he’s almost out of Indians.

Incidentally, I had never heard of this macabre poem before reading the book.  The 10 Little Indians I know goes, “One little, two little, three little Indians…”  Nobody gets killed; we just count.  That is the kind of sheltered childhood I led.

A little epergne (I’ve never used that word before; I hope it’s right) in the middle of the table depicts the ten unfortunate Indians.  A mysterious hand breaks one off every time a character is picked off.

Of course the characters behave in the time-honored fashion of movie characters confronted with a mad killer.  They lose their cool, they go off alone, they trust or mistrust each other for the flimsiest of reasons.  This is not a 70s slasher flick, so nobody has sex just before meeting a gruesome end.

In fact, none of the ends are particularly gruesome, which to me is another advantage of old movies.  I find a couple of deaths horrifying by reason of empathy.  For example, how would I feel if I was scaling down a mountain and looked up to see a hand chopping away at the rope holding me.  Yikes!

It’s not all chills and thrills, unfortunately.  Things move too slowly for my tastes.   But perhaps I ask too much.

I guess I did not need the spoiler alert after all, because I feel distinctly disinclined to actually give away the ending.  I will say that I like the movie ending better than the play ending.  And I like the very end of the 1966 flick better than the 1945 version.  Anybody who has seen both versions (or either version), feel free to offer your opinion in the comments.  Don’t worry if you give away the big reveal; we’re still covered by the Spoiler Alert.


Taking Liberties with Miss Marple

When I DVR’d Murder Ahoy starring Margaret Rutherford from TCM, I was hoping for a star-studded Agatha Christie extravaganza, maybe in a “Love Boat” type of setting. It was not that, but it was an enjoyable movie and not without certain points to ponder (you know how I hate to do just a straight review).

My first point of contention came during pre-movie commentary when Ben Mankiewicz kept referring to the main character as “Mrs. Marple.” It’s MISS!!! She is an old maiden lady, gossipy and harmless. It is perhaps a small point, but I think it is telling. Mankiewicz certainly never read a Miss Marple book and I question how many Miss Marple movies he has actually seen.

In fact, I know he’s never read a Miss Marple book, because he said “Mrs. Marple” was featured in 20 short stories by Agatha Christie. In fact, she was also in a number of novels (I didn’t look up how many, but you needn’t shake your finger at me; I’ve probably read them all).

Oh, I know, I’m carping. I don’t expect Ben Mankiewicz to have watched every movie TCM possibly shows, much less researched them all himself. I know he has a staff for such things. But I still think it is perfectly legitimate for me to point out: It’s Miss Marple, not Mrs., and she was featured in novels as well as short stories. OK, I’m done. For now.

Murder Ahoy, Mankiewicz tells us, was not adapted from a Christie story but is an original mystery based on the character. Well, I don’t mind that. Sometimes a novel doesn’t translate so well onto the screen. An original screenplay is at least written for its medium.

In the novels, Miss Marple solves mysteries mainly through her extensive knowledge of human nature (idea being that a maiden lady has more leisure to observe these things than, for example, a married lady with half a dozen kids to look after). Somebody would remind her of somebody she used to know and that would give her the key.

I believe this sort of thing works better on the page than on the screen. No matter, because this Miss Marple doesn’t seem to work that way. For heavens’ sake, she has laboratory equipment so she can detect the poison in… well, you know I don’t like to give everything away.

The written Miss Marple also stuck close to her little village of St. Mary Mead, with a few exceptions. Purists feel she was at her best at home, but I have no prejudice either way. This Miss Marple, as you probably expected, goes on board a ship to solve the mystery.

I have to say that the liberties taken with the character of Miss Marple did not bother me one bit. Dame Christie herself was the first to point out that screen (or stage, for which many works were originally adapted) is a different medium with different requirements. In fact, I’m not even going to share all the things the movie makers added, because at least one was for me a quite delightful surprise.

I thought the movie Murder Ahoy was quite entertaining. I look forward to other Miss Marple movies starring Margaret Rutherford.

Star-Studded Something

Last Sunday Steven and I took a break from cheesy horror movies and our usual Sunday crime shows with a star studded Agatha Christie which had not previously come our way: Evil Under the Sun (1982). TCM showed the movie Saturday afternoon. I set the DVR to tape it for our subsequent enjoyment.

I had read Evil Under the Sun and thought I kind of sort of remembered the solution. That hardly mattered. For one thing, if Dame Christie had adapted the story herself she may have changed the ending, as she did in at least two of her stage adaptations. I don’t think she adapted any of the movies, but I believe Hollywood has been known to make changes as well (No! Hollywood make changes? Say it ain’t so!).

I love a star-studded Agatha Christie movie. We have two on DVD: Murder on the Orient Express (1974) and Death on the Nile (1978). We also have my personal favorite, Witness for the Prosecution (1957), which, although its cast boasts at least four well-known actors is for some reason not a Star-Studded Agatha Christie.

That raises the interesting (to me) question of just what makes a Star-Studded Agatha Christie Extravaganza? Hmm. I guess “extravaganza” is too big a word, but just plain “movie” is too small, and “star-studded Agatha Christie” seems lacking. Leave that for now. Let’s look at “Star Studded.” That implies that there must be something to stud. Something already showy or exotic or glamorous. Evil Under the Sun is set on a tropical island. Death on the Nile takes place in the mysterious Middle East. Murder on the Orient Express happens on a famous luxury train. All three have costumes to die for. My favorite is Angela Lansbury in Nile, but Jacqueline Bisset on Orient is noteworthy, and Maggie Smith in Evil can give them both a run for their money.

So I think that’s a major component of a Star Studded Movie Event (better than extravaganza?). It’s fun just to look at. I think another important component is that most of the stars must at some point be suspects. Witness for the Prosecution is a suspense play as much as a murder mystery. The question isn’t so much whodunnit as how is Charles Laughton going to prove that Tyrone Powers didn’t do it? In my star studded vehicles, almost everybody has a motive and in some cases means and opportunity as well. It is the task of Hercule Poirot to prove that the one who couldn’t possibly have done it in fact did (oh dear, did I give too much away? Well, these movies are enjoyable even when you know whodunnit).

There’s another element many star studded attractions have: Hercule Poirot, Dame Christie’s famous detective. I believe there are a couple of star studders I’m not familiar with featuring her other sleuth, Miss Marple (I’ve read that Christie preferred Miss Marple to M. Poirot, but I love them both). Audiences and readers tend to like a series detective, and producers and publishers really, really like them. But that’s a whole other blog post.

So now I have digressed almost completely away from the movie I started to write about to the tune of about 500 words. And now Steven tells me I left And Then There Were None (1945) off my list of Agatha Christie movies we own. How remiss of me! Now I’ll have to watch that one again, to see if it meets my criteria for a Star Studded Romp (oh, that’s even worse than “extravaganza”! I’ll work on it).