There is, as the song says, 'nothing like a dame' and there never has been – and never will be – another dame like Dame Margaret!
True, Rutherford isn't at all like the Jane Marple described by Christie who, it is said, was never keen the portrayal (despite dedicating The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side to the actress "with admiration"), but, like her performances in the other three Marple films (Murder She Said, Murder Most Foul and Murder Ahoy) Murder at the Gallop is a tour de force romp.
Rutherford's exquisitely expressive face (topped off with a series of hats like squashed church fete cakes) is a ceaselessly animated pageant of wobbling jowls, pursed lips and narrowing (or widening) eyes!
Then there is the body: a substantial tube of tweed, often with the addition of a cape (she insisted on wearing her own clothes for the role), from which are suspended two thin little legs in sensible, sturdy shoes on which she whizzes around with the determined speed of a nursery wind-up toy.
Murder at the Gallop (filmed in glorious black and white, but celebrated on this post with colour photo-art by Walker Dukes) is by far the best of the four films, if for no other reason than because it includes a scene in which Miss Marple and her loyal lieutenant, Mr Stringer (played by Rutherford's devoted husband, Stringer Davis), dance the Twist!
The Marples film series also featured superb soundtrack compositions by Ron Goodwin including the instantly-memorable main theme featuring a harpsichord (representing Miss Marple's olde-worlde characteristics) artfully integrated into a score that sounds (or did for 'sixties cinema-goers) lively, adventurous and contemporary.
Here's a reminder of Mr Goodwin's classic composition which should be more than enough to send you off humming it for the rest of the day and searching out the DVD box-set. If you need assistance, just click here!