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As far as filmed adaptations of Agatha Christie novels go, THE MIRROR CRACK'D ($25) isn't particularly good, but I like it nevertheless for the campy/catty performances of its two female stars. Elizabeth Taylor and Kim Novak are ideally cast as two over-the-hill actresses, who can't stand the sight of one another. Watching the two temperamental actresses that Taylor and Novak portray trading barbs, while continuously trying to upstage each other is sometimes downright hilarious. The only thing missing is Taylor and Novak rolling around in the mud- just like on an episode of DYNASTY.

I think that THE MIRROR CRACK'D is the only Miss Marple mystery to be produced for theatrical consumption, since Margaret Rutherford portrayed the amateur sleuth in a series of films back in the 1960's. While the tepid results of this production are likely to keep the character of the big screen for several more decades, Angela Lansbury cannot be faulted for her portrayal. Lansbury is a consummate professional and her sharp performance is right on the mark. It was probably her performance in THE MIRROR CRACK'D that set Lansbury on the road to her successful run on MURDER SHE WROTE.

The plot of THE MIRROR CRACK'D finds a Hollywood movie production descending upon a small English village, which just happens to be Miss Marple's hometown. The entire village is astir with the arrival of Marina Rudd (Taylor), a legendary actress, who is making a comeback after suffering a mental breakdown. Her husband, Jason Rudd (Rock Hudson), is the director of the film and is trying to make sure that the production goes smoothly for Marina. Unfortunately, the producer Marty N. Fenn (Tony Curtis) has added Lola Brewster to the cast, despite the fact that she and Marina are bitter rivals, with an antagonistic relationship. During a party to celebrate the start of production, a local woman dies after drinking a cocktail that was prepared for Marina. Although sidelined at the time of the murder, Miss Marple gathers clues from eyewitnesses and begins to piece together the solution to the mystery. Lending support in THE MIRROR CRACK'D are Edward Fox, Geraldine Chaplin, Charles Gray, Maureen Bennett and Wendy Morgan. On the screen, the British players in THE MIRROR CRACK'D certainly fair better than their American counterparts; however Rock Hudson is surprisingly good in this film- displaying more emotional depth than anyone else in the cast.

Anchor Bay Entertainment has done a good job transcribing THE MIRROR CRACK'D to DVD. THE MIRROR CRACK'D is presented at 1.85:1 and the wide screen presentation is enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. Image quality is usually quite nice, with most of the film appearing reasonably crisp and well defined. Whatever softness there is in the image is attributable to the original photography (which was trying to makes its two leading ladies look younger) and is not a flaw in the transfer. In addition, noticeable film grain can be traced back to the production, although the transfer does minimize the effect on the image. Colors tend to favor the pastels, although there are some vibrant colors sprinkled in here and there. Flesh tones are also somewhat subdued, but then again, don't the English always look a little pale in period movies. Blacks appear fine and shadow detail is pretty decent. Digital compression artifacts hardly ever make their presence known on this dual layer DVD. The Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack is fairly solid, offering clear, clean sound that is free from audible distortion and hiss. Dialogue is always fully intelligible and Novak's breathy vocals sound just fine to my ear. John Cameron's musical score sounds just fine when amplified, thanks to the reasonably good fidelity of the soundtrack.

Animation and music enhanced the interactive menus, which provide access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a smattering of extras. The DVD features a theatrical trailer, two TV spots and cast biographies- not much, but significantly better than many of the titles that come out of the major studios with squat included.


 The Mirror Crack'd


DVD reviews are Copyright 2001 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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