I spent my teen years in the 1980s and had a blast. But let’s be honest here—our big hair was out of control.
Last night our family watched a 1985 TV whodunit called Murder with Mirrors, based on an Agatha Christie mystery, starring Helen Hayes as the “dithering” Jane Marple. It was a quaint film, and featured a very aged Bette Davis and a very young Tim Roth.
Liane Langland played one of the main characters, Gina Markham. Ms Langland acted in only a few films, according to IMdB.com, but I couldn’t help but notice her. Her acting wasn’t especially fantastic, but her hair—bright red with thick curls—was huge! Even in the scenes where she wore it pulled up, it was easily the largest single “do” on the set, and that’s saying a lot, considering the fluffed and feathered style worn by John Laughlin, the actor playing her husband.
The cast’s wardrobe also cracked me up. Of course, Ms. Hayes’ and Ms. Davis’ attire was classic and demure, but the younger cast members all wore layers and layers of heavy, boxy sweaters and jackets and scarves. (Except in the soccer/ football scene, in which the young men all wore very short shorts. Yikes!)
I watched the movie intently, trying to solve the mystery along with Miss Marple and Inspector Curry. I did guess the murderer’s identity, but not without all of these distractions. I’m a great fan of Agatha Christie, though not usually her Marple mysteries. They are typically solvable only with a key piece of evidence known only by Miss Jane, and she refuses to reveal this piece until the last second. For this film, the writer decided to leave a few breadcrumbs for the audience, rather than keep it true to the original book.
When the credits began to roll, I was pleased that I had deduced the solution before the end of the film. However, the feeling was tempered with the nostalgia of my youth. It was mostly a “what were we thinking?” kind of romanticism. I’m getting old.
Is this film one of those essential pieces of cinema history that shouldn’t be missed? Nope, unless you enjoy a movie in which a mid-80s sedan drives into a flimsy iron gate and explodes on impact. My kids and I figured that maybe they constructed the gate from C-4 or dynamite. It was the 80s.
That’s a wrap for this Toast to Cinema. Thanks for reading.