The Mirror Crack'd is one of the better Agatha Christie offerings on screen. It's not as atmospheric and well-crafted as And Then There Were None of 1945, but it is far better an effort than the ponderous illustrated travelogue directed by John Guillermin, Death on the Nile.
This film presents Angela Lansbury as Miss Marples - not as eccentrically insane as my favourite Miss Marples, Margaret Rutherford, but well enough in her beady-eyed, old-lady powder-layered way.
The cast is top-heavy with glittering Hollywood, with the glitter-queen of all, Elizabeth Taylor, looking amazingly pudgy and plain. A grey-haired Rock Hudson is as immaculately handsome as ever, while Tony Curtis looks born to play the sort of sleaze he is cast as in this film. Little Edward Fox and Geraldine Chaplin, looking even plainer than Liz, round out this trans-Atlantic cast.
This is a dressing-room mystery set in one of England's great grand houses, all immense drawing rooms and sweeping stairs. Miss Marples lives in an antique village of characteristic gingerbread sweetness and charm. It's all great to look at - but the settings don't submerge the plot, which sweeps along with nice pace and style.
It's superficial and glitzy, and good fun for a cold night when there's nothing better in sight. It's not a patch on my favourite mystery thriller of this sort is The Last of Sheila with James Coburn, but it serves as a fun genre offering.
Fast-forward, by the way, to the 73-minute mark and see if you can pick the uncredited appearance, in a brief non-speaking role, of one of today's big stars. Liz Taylor calls him 'Jamie', which isn't that far from his famous screen name today... and in a nice coincidence, The Mirror Crack'd's director, Guy Hamilton, had made his name some years earlier as a director of a couple of the better James Bond movies...
This boasts an excellent anamorphic widescreen transfer - the countryside shimmers with gentle English summer warmth and the interior scenes are painted with delicate pastel hues.
For a film made in 1980, this has been treated very decently indeed, with the transfer evidently coming from a fine quality print.