The venerable Margaret Rutherford, it occurs to me, is not properly appreciated in this country. It's not that she's completely unknown--the Boulting brothers have given her enough bit parts recently, and one remembers her dimly as somebody's aunt in I'm All Right, Jack. But most people are apt to be content simply to recognize her bulk; and, having distinguished her from all those other clever English actors, they smile happily, rather like a city boy able to name a curious country flower, and forget all about her.
Such a state of affairs is exceedingly unfortunate, for Miss Rutherford, a delectable mountain of a woman, is a supreme comic actress. This truth my now come to be appreciated, for in Murder (She Said)--damned awkward name for a film, really--She has a movie all to herself. Nominally, of course, Miss Rutherford shares her billing with James Robinson Justice and Arthur Kennedy, capable men. But they are mere objects for her to bully, to investigate, or to stalk in a rather frighteningly effective way.
For Murder (She Said), is, in form, a murder mystery, sensibly, 4:50 From Paddington. Miss Rutherford, you see, observes during the first minute of the movie, a murder on a train running parallel to one on which she is traveling; and naturally enough, her sole object thereafter is to track down the malfeasant. The police, equally naturally, are rather stupid, and think Miss Rutherford's gone barmy. She, consequently, marches fearlessly to the house where she has traced the skulduggery, and in her most formidable dowager's tweeds, and devastatingly sensible shoes, assumes the post of cook-chambermaid, the better to observe the goings-on.
Miss Rutherford observing is a sight to behold: armed with a No. 4 iron, she prowls the grounds by night; or, tea service in hand, crouches in front of keyholes to listen to suspicious chatter--and all this with the majesty of an ocean-going ship. Eventually, of course she gets her man (for absolutely no one in the movie seems able ever to say no to Miss Rutherford), and the police apologize quite handsomely.
And everything else about Murder (She Said) is handsome too. Messrs. Justice and Kennedy are agreeable objects, the one as a bed-ridden patriarch, the other as a sympathetic country doctor from this side of the water. The direction is brisk, the screenplay properly ominous, and some one has written a remarkably lively musical score, which is performed on what sounds like a bar-room harpsichord. One trusts that Miss Rutherford's long deferred American fame will now at length, be firmly secured.