Miss Marple accompanies a young friend Virginia to her ancestral home Chimneys where an important Austrian diplomat wishes to make a business deal. However, when he is found dead in a tunnel, Miss Marple investigates and uncovers the secrets at Chimneys.
The original novel of The Secret of Chimneys didn't feature Miss Marple. but this adaption also has the Miss Marple short story The Herb of Death woven into the plot. Most of the characters and the setting are from the novel, but the murderer and one of the methods is from the short story. There are some major changes therefore, including making Virginia one of Caterham's daughters when she is not, removing Superintendent Battle and replacing him with Inspector Finch. This is a sensible change as Battle appears in numerous Christie stories, including Poirot's, but isn't present in the series, so it makes sense to dispose of him here. The new version of the story works well, Miss Marple doesn't feel like a spare part here, she is involved with the story.
Direction, locations, soundtrack
John Strickland's direction to me is good, but nothing special. There is no dark tone or special camera techniques, it just serves it's purpose. I'm not complaining, but I prefer a darker tone to these films. The exterior location used for Chimneys is Hatfield House, the interior is Knebworth House and there are some scenes shot in London as well.
Cast and characters
Julia McKenzie as always gives a great performance, we see her more as a motherly figure here to Virginia, and sympathetic towards Bundle and Treadwell. She has a brilliant relationship with DI Finch, wonderfully played by Stephen Dillane. Dervla Kirwan is great as Bundle, who greatly resents her father wanting to sell Chimneys, and Ruth Jones plays Miss Blenkinsopp well.