Murder at the Gallop (1963) is the second of four Miss Marple films made by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It was based on the novel After the Funeral by Agatha Christie, and starred Margaret Rutherford as Miss Jane Marple, Charles "Bud" Tingwell as Inspector Craddock and Stringer Davis (Rutherford's real-life husband) as Jane Marple's friend Mr. Stringer.
The film changes both the action and the characters. The original novel featured Hercule Poirot rather than Miss Marple, and Christie's trademark suspense was replaced by light comedy.
The film also stars Robert Morley and Flora Robson and was directed by George Pollock, with James P. Cavanagh credited with the adaptation. The music was by Ron Goodwin. The film's location shots included Amersham, Little Marlow and Hilfield Castle.
This is a sequel to Murder, She Said and was followed by Murder Most Foul and Murder Ahoy!, all with Rutherford starring as Christie's famed amateur sleuth.
While Miss Marple (Margaret Rutherford) and Mr Stringer (Stringer Davis) are soliciting donations for a charity, they visit Mr. Enderby (Finlay Currie), a rich and eccentric recluse. He tumbles down a staircase, apparently the victim of a fatal heart attack. Knowing that Enderby had a pathological fear of cats, Miss Marple becomes suspicious when she finds one in the house. She also finds a piece of mud bearing the print of a riding boot, but when she goes to Inspector Craddock (Bud Tingwell), he is sceptical, believing that Enderby died of natural causes.
Undeterred, Miss Marple eavesdrops when Enderby's family gather for the reading of the Will. There are four beneficiaries: fourth cousin George Crossfield (Robert Urquhart), niece Rosamund Shane (Katya Douglas), nephew Hector Enderby (Robert Morley) and sister Cora Lanskenay. Each receives an equal share of the estate. Cora declares that she believes Enderby was murdered. The next day, when Miss Marple goes to see her, she finds Cora dead, stabbed in the back with a hatpin. Cora's companion of many years, timid Miss Milchrest (Flora Robson), can provide little information.
Miss Marple decides to take a "holiday" at the Gallop Hotel/riding school, as it is run by Hector Enderby and the other two surviving heirs are staying there. When Inspector Craddock questions them and Rosamund Shane's spendthrift husband Michael (James Villiers), none of them can produce a satisfactory alibi for the time of Cora Lanskenay's death.
An attempt is made to do away with Miss Marple, but is foiled by the intended victim (without her even realising it). Miss Marple then discovers that the piece of mud found in Enderby's house came from shady art dealer George Crossfield's riding boot, but her case against him is dashed when she learns that each of the heirs visited Enderby on the day he died, to ask for money. Crossfield has meanwhile found out who the murderer is, but he is locked in a stall with an excitable horse and is trampled to death.
By this point, Miss Marple knows the identity and motive of the killer, but has no definite proof. She therefore lays a trap, pretending to have a heart attack at a dance at the hotel while doing the twist with Stringer. The police doctor places her in a room by herself, declaring it to be too dangerous to move her until morning. During the night, the criminal makes one last attempt to silence her, but Miss Marple is ready. The killer's motive is revealed to be a seemingly worthless painting owned by Cora, which actually was very valuable.
Hector Enderby later proposes marriage to Miss Marple but she turns him down, as she is opposed to blood sports and he is an enthusiastic fox-hunter. After she leaves, he mutters to himself "That was a narrow escape!"Margaret Rutherford as Miss Marple
Stringer Davis as Mr. Stringer
Robert Morley as Hector Enderby
Flora Robson as Miss Milchrest
Bud Tingwell as Inspector Craddock
Gordon Harris as Sergeant Bacon
Robert Urquhart as George Crossfield
Katya Douglas as Rosamund Shane
James Villiers as Michael Shane, Rosamund's husband
Noel Howlett as Mr. Trundell
Finlay Currie as Old Enderby
Duncan Lamont as Hillman
Kevin Stoney as Doctor Markwell
Frank Atkinson as Hotel Night Porter (uncredited)
Roger Avon as Police Photographer (uncredited)