Agatha Christie,  fashion,  Films

Spiders Web – An Agatha Christie Rarity

Spiders Web is a bit of an Agatha Christie oddity. a 1950’s play that was written at the request of Margaret Rutherford during Rehearsals for ‘Witness for the Prosecution‘. It was Agatha’s 2nd most successful play after The Mousetrap, and was turned into a novel by Charles Osborne (who did the same for Black Coffee), and yet it is certainly not up there with the best of Agatha, despite having a great heroine in Clarissa.

I first read the novelisation during the first lockdown, when I made a decision to read all of Agatha’s books and plays, and found it very stagy, something you would expect as it started life as a play. The central premise is this: Clarissa Hailsham Brown has just moved into a village property that she is renting at a very cheap price with her husband, a diplomat who is working closely with the British government. The official Agatha Christie website continues:-

 …is adept at spinning tales of adventure but when a murder takes place in her drawing room she finds live drama much harder to cope with. Desperate to dispose of the body before her husband arrives with an important politician, she enlists the help of her guests. Hilarity ensues when they are interrupted by the arrival of wry detective, Inspector Lord.

Spider’s Web has been filmed at least three times, each time with a formidable leading lady playing Clarissa. In the 1950’s Margaret Lockwood herself took on the role, and in the 1980’s Penelope Keith was a rather formidable Clarissa, but this post is about the 1960 version which starred Glynis Johns as a scatty but charming heroine, one who you could well imagine the implausible events happening to.

I really enjoyed this forgotten curio which has warmth and humour, particularly with Peter Butterworth, best known for his roles in the Carry On films, playing the inspector. The stage origins of the piece are still clear to see, with most of the action taking place in one room, although there are trips upstairs, and to a cottage on the estate. The rather dramatic film posters like the one above give this a look of something more resembling a horror film, or at the very least a tension filled thriller, but it is far from that, more like a farce or a gentle example of cosy crime.

You can watch this version of Spiders Web on Youtube, something I would definitely recommend if you are an Agatha fan who thinks they have seen all screen versions of the authors work.

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