If you are struggling with the January Blues, a dose of Margaret Rutherford’s comic genius is the perfect pick me up.
With swashbuckling vigour, she transforms cautious Miss Marple into a bold adventurer in Agatha Christie’s Murder She Said. The film celebrates its 60th anniversary this year – and is funnier than ever.
Watching Rutherford scramble over railway tracks and leg it out of windows and down fire escapes it’s hard to believe she was nearly 70 when she took on the role.
Despite the quaint costumes and vintage vehicles, this black and white movie feels modern because it challenges ageism and sexism head on in a way rarely seen on film.
The cinema of our ‘woke’ generation lacks the eloquence and defiance of Rutherford as she mocks the obnoxious, garrulous chauvinism of Mr Ackenthorpe. She wins his grudging admiration and an offer of marriage but turns him down in favour of another suitor. For once he is speechless.
Rutherford won admiration on and off screen, while flaunting all the conventions about feminine conduct and beauty. She won an Oscar and a Golden Globe and was appointed OBE and later a Dame.
She was figure of fun and a tower of strength, the rare kind of woman who defied the rules and remained uncompromisingly herself, even choosing her own clothes for the set, including a Zorro-style avenger cloak.
The VIPS, the 1963 film which won her an Oscar, foretells how she might have have reacted if she she had lived through the current pandemic.
Hard to imagine her buckling under stress. When asked to produce a vaccination certificate before flying to America, she replies: “I once came through a blackwater fever in Uganda and hadn’t been inoculated or anything.
“I’m really not afraid of a little small pox.”