There’s updating, and then there’s taking the piss.
Disney Pictures has closed months of negotiations to capture the film rights to Agatha Christie’s detective Miss Marple says The Hollywood Reporter.
In surprising news though, the studio is making drastic changes in their approach to the character of Jane Marple. Gone is the elderly spinster who resides in the quaint pre-WW2 village of St. Mary Mead. In this version she’ll be a young, modern day and possibly American city girl – and no, this is not a satire.
Jennifer Garner is set to produce through her Vandalia Films and will likely star in the new adaptation. Mark Frost, who co-created “Twin Peaks” and penned the “Fantastic Four” movies, will be penning the script.
The changeover is rather disturbing to say the least. The entire point of the character is that her small English village life and kind, unassuming outward appearance hides a sharp intellect with a keen understanding of human nature’s darkest proclivities. If they do this kind of change, what next? Turning Christie’s other great detective Hercule Poirot into a hunky Argentinian barista with a loft in Tribeca?
Christie penned twelve Miss Marple books with each of the works having been adapted numerous times for the big and small screen – stories that include titles such as “4:50 from Paddington,” “The Body in the Library,” “A Murder is Announced,” “The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side,” “The Murder at the Vicarage,” “Nemesis” and “A Pocket Full of Rye”.
The definitive portrayal amongst fans is Joan Hickson’s run in a dozen BBC TV movies in the late 80’s/early 90’s which were very loyal to the books. More recently ITV has been loosely adapting various Christie works and re-writing them to fit Miss Marple into the action with Geraldine McEwan and Julia McKenzie playing the character over the past six years.
The first big screen incarnation was Margaret Rutherford’s version of the character in four movies shot in the 60’s. Angela Lansbury played her in a 1980 TV movie also starring Elizabeth Taylor, while Lansbury’s “Murder, She Wrote” character Jessica Fletcher was directly inspired by Christie’s Marple character. Helen Hayes also played the character in two CBS made-for-TV movies in the early 80’s.