Essie Davis as Phryne Fisher.
Essie Davis sports an array of dashing outfits as the heroine in Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears, which opens in Australia on February 27 and starts streaming on Acorn TV in the US on March 23.
Costume designer Margot Wilson created 15 different looks for Phryne Fisher as the sleuth shows her prowess at fencing, jumps from a cliff onto a train and through windows, dances the tango, flies a plane and drives a car.
Wilson also enjoyed swapping the detective suit traditionally worn by Nathan Page’s Inspector Jack Robinson for a safari suit made from linen table cloths.
“Jack would have looked ridiculous in a heavy suit in the desert. The linen safari suit moves him more towards Phryne visually,” Margot says.
Roadshow has released a selection of stills of the movie directed by Tony Tilse, scripted by Every Cloud Productions’ Deb Cox and produced by Fiona Eagger.
Also returning from the TV series are Ashleigh Cummings as Dorothy ‘Dot’ Collins, Miriam Margolyes as Aunt Prudence Stanley and Hugo Johnstone-Burt as Constable Hugh Collins.
Shot in Morocco and Victoria by DOP Roger Lanser, the film opens with Phryne rescuing Shirin Abbas, a young Bedouin girl (newcomer Izabella Yena) from prison in Jerusalem. Shirin is traumatised by childhood memories of her village being massacred during the Great War.
Phryne promises to help Shirin seek justice and they go to London to stay at a manor with Lord and Lady Lofthouse (Daniel Lapaine, Jacqueline McKenzie) and Lofthouse’s younger brother Jonathon (Rupert Penry-Jones).
When Phryne tries to discover the truth about Shirin’s village, the Lofhouse brothers, former soldiers, deny the massacre. However when Phryne and Robinson witness the murder of an army deserter who gives Phryne an ancient, encrypted pendent moments before his death, they are convinced there is more to the story.
The supporting cast includes John Stanton, William Zappa, Ian Bliss and Los Angeles-‐based Egyptian Kal Naga.
Cox says: “We wanted to make a film that’s part action adventure, part murder mystery with a bit of an epic feel and the kind of exotic international backdrop that an exceptional woman like Phryne Fisher deserves.
“Bringing a strong, brave, independent woman like Phryne Fisher to the cinema screen at this time seems more relevant than ever. And while we had a very clear idea of who Phryne Fisher is and her appeal to audiences, a feature film is a very different beast to a television series.
“We put Phryne and our leading man Jack Robinson in the desert. One of my favourite films is David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia. It’s epic and it’s romantic and these were the qualities we wanted for Phryne’s foray onto the big screen.
“Miss Fisher is such an interesting character that in exploring ideas for the film we could have gone with a conventional murder mystery set in a mansion or on a train, but Miss Fisher is an action sleuth. She’s always been like that.
“She’s not Miss Marple. She climbs buildings, she runs around in fast cars, she has a gun. So we were dealing with a hybrid character and a hybrid genre which lends itself to a big screen adventure.”
Of the dynamic between Phryne and Jack, Cox says: “You see Jack grappling with ‘What do you do with a woman you can’t keep tabs on all the time? And you can’t marry her, and you can’t pin her down because she won’t be who she is’ and she fascinates him. And Phryne loves him, but she doesn’t want to be tied down by him, so they have this dilemma that the film works with.
“By the end there is progress in their relationship and there is a little bit of bending from both of them. Jack finds a way that he can accommodate a woman who he can’t constrain in, in the ways that the times determined. And Phryne makes a slight concession to being accountable to someone else in her life who she cares about.”
Roadshow will launch the movie co-funded by Screen Australia, Film Victoria, private investors, All3Media International and the Producer Offset, on 200-plus screens following premieres at the Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace on February 20 and the Village Rivoli in Melbourne on February 23.
Acorn TV plans a cinema release in about 12 US cities, targeting those with the biggest Phryne Fisher fan base, before the streaming premiere, dates and locations to be announced.