4.50 from Paddington (US: 'What Mrs McGillicuddy Saw!') is the third episode of the first series of Agatha Christie's Marple. It was broadcast on ITV by Granada Television on 26 December 2004. The screenplay was written by Stephen Churchett, and the episode was directed by Andy Wilson. It an adaptation of the Agatha Christie novel of the same name.

Synopsis

This adaptation is fairly faithful to the main premise of the original novel. The main change is in who the investigating officer is.

Comparison with original story

(may contain spoilers - click on expand to read)

Changes to characters

  • Dr Quimper's first name, not mentioned in the novel, is given as David. His character was changed to be more sympathetic than he is in the novel. His motive for murdering his wife is his love for Emma rather than his desire for the Crackenthorpe inheritance.
  • In this version, Alfred is the eldest son after Edmund, and will inherit the Hall; Harold is the second-eldest son (He becomes next-in-line to inherit the Hall after Alfred dies) and Cedric is the youngest son.
  • The name of Luther's father is changed from Josiah to Marcus and he manufactured confectionery rather than tea biscuits.
  • The novel's Inspector Dermot Craddock is replaced by Inspector Tom Campbell, an old friend of Miss Marple. This adaption ends with Lucy rejecting the two Crackenthorpe men in favour of the inspector.
  • Bryan is British in the novel, but American in the adaption.

Plot elements and themes

  • Only two murders occur – Quimper's wife, and Alfred. Harold is still alive at the end.
  • Edmund is killed by a U-Boat in the Atlantic in December 1941 and considered to be lost at sea. In addition, Edith is described as dying during childbirth.
  • Like in the original, "Martine" features heavily in the story and the plot twist involving her is followed fairly faithfully. In this adaptation she has a slightly different backstory. Edmund married Martine, a French girl, during the war. He brought her home to meet all his family. The visit is marred by Harold, who sexually assaulted her. For a long time, the body found in the mausoleum was presumed to be Martine, but later Martine is found, alive and well. The murder which Elspeth McGillicudy witnessed on the train was not that of Martine.
  • Both the motive for killing Alfred, and the method of his murder, were changed. So long as the murder victim was thought to be Martne, suspicion would fall on the Crackenthorpe family. So Quimper planted a false clue on the grounds (a sales receipt made out to Mrs M Crackenthorpe). Alexander and James found this clue and gave it to the police. Alfred, however, saw Quimper plant the false clue and blackmailed him (there is a scene of Alfred boasting to Lucy that he is due to receive some money). Quimper planted a small does of poison in the family dinner. When the whole family fall ill, Quimper visits all of them in turn and kills Alfred in his bed by a fatal injection. As he is being killed, Alfred cries out his killer's name. Quimper makes certain this is misconstrued as him calling for the doctor's help.
  • The way Miss Marple reveals Dr Quimper as the murderer is changed; it take place on a train with Mrs McGillcuddy witnessing it from a passing train. When she positively identifies Quimper, the communication cords on both trains are pulled, and the police come on board to arrest Quimper. Miss Marple then reveals all in her denouement aboard the train.
  • The murder victim is Dr Quimper's wife as in the original, She is not Martine but a ballerina Anna Stravinska. Her true name is Suzanne Bellaine. The same plot element of her being a devout catholic and thus refusing a divorce is employed.
  • In the adaption, Harold Crackenthorpe's wife, Lady Alice, is given a much bigger role than in the novel in that she is present throughout most of the events in the episode. The relationship between her and Harold is much as described in the original novel but Harold is portrayed as a lecherous womaniser.

Cast

Mentioned

  • Terry
  • Jacqueline Briggs
  • Councillor Marchant
  • Edmund Crackenthorpe
  • Edith Crackenthorpe
  • Elsie Elliot

Filming locations

  • Knebworth House - externals of Rutherford Hall
  • Eltham Palace, Court Road, Eltham, London - As the home of Noel Coward.
  • Chiswick House - the mausoleum

Research notes

  • Miss Marple is seen reading Dashiell Hammett's "Woman in the Dark and Other Stories", providing an inter-textual detail that suggests some of Miss Marple's detective insights come from her reading of classic murder fiction as well as her shrewd understanding of human nature.
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