Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Film Flashback: Alleyn Mysteries


I recently watched an episode of Alleyn Mysteries starring Patrick Malahide as Chief Inspector Roderick Alleyn - the particular episode was The Nursing Home Murder. I really like the series, with its good production values, and I like Malahide. He does a good job portraying the uppercrust policeman who has the respect of his subordinates in Scotland Yard. The chemistry between Malahide and William Simons, as Bre'er Fox, is just right, nothing forced - just very calm and enjoyable to watch. An interesting side note here: the actor who played Chief Inspector Alleyn in the series' first episode is named Simon Williams!

The great New Zealand mystery writer Ngaio Marsh wrote 32 novels before her death in 1982, the majority of which were set in England, and all featured the proper but subtly humorous Alleyn. Unfortunately only 9 of them have been adapted for British television. New Zealand television adapted 4 novels, 2 of which were set in New Zealand, with George Baker playing the lead character. I think this needs to be rectified, don't you?


At this point, at 63 years old Patrick Malahide might be a tad too old to play Alleyn, although I'm not quite sure how much the character ages throughout the chronology of Marsh's books. I know that he marries the renowned painter Agatha Troy with whom he has a son, and this son is supposed to be a lead character in one of Marsh's later novels. How old father and son are in that novel, I don't know. It has been awhile since I read one of the Alleyn mysteries and don't honestly remember whether I read one of the last ones like "Light Thickens" or "Grave Mistake". "Photo Finish" sounds familiar but I can't recall anything about the plot. [sigh]

If Malahide is still able to portray CID Alleyn, that would be grand. But if not, I wonder which actor can pick up the mantle and do the character the same amount of justice? And who would portray independent Agatha Troy? Or Bre'er Fox? There are 19 classic, gripping stories that are just begging to be adapted into quality television episodes, and I think the mystery-loving public is more than ready to receive them. If British television can remake Agatha Christie's Miss Marple stories with different leading ladies, and I loved all of the adaptations and look forward to more, they can definitely make room for one more famous detective...yes? [fingers crossed]

In the meantime, watch out for Patrick Malahide in the soon-to-be released, big screen version of Brideshead Revisited - in the role of Edward Ryder, which was brilliantly portrayed by John Gielgud in the tv miniseries. I can't wait to see how Malahide tackles the part.

[Photo of Patrick Malahide is from PatrickMalahide.net, and of Ngaio Marsh is from NNDB)

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