Once upon a time a “lady detective” from Melbourne first captivated readers in a series of murder mysteries and then fans of her televised incarnation.
Resourceful, glamorous, the very model of the Roaring ’20s independent woman, she is the Honorable Phryne Fisher, created by Kerry Greenwood in her bestsellers and now a global favorite as played by Tasmanian actress Essie Davis in “Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.”
After three successful seasons and a five-year hiatus, Davis and her creative counterpart, armed with her pearl-handled revolver, return in a feature-length film, “Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears”
This lavish, fantastical adventure takes our inspiring heroine into what might be described as James Bond territory.
“Crypt” will be broadcast Monday on AcornTV; the site also exclusively streams all three “Murder Mysteries” seasons.
For Davis, 50 this year, the Honorable Phryne Fisher has become her career-defining role, a female superhero who refuses to stick to the rules.
“She’s very naughty,” Davis noted, “and will break the rules to make things right. She can speak many languages, dance a tango, drive a car, fly a plane.”
“Crypt of Tears” lets us see how fearless Fisher really is as she leaps from an overpass onto a speeding train’s roof — in high heels!
“She can scale a building,” Davis said, “break all the rules. She loves women but she’s a lover of men.”
Fisher is in 1929 Jerusalem, then part of British Palestine, as “Crypt of Tears” begins. Undercover, her mission is to spring a young Bedouin woman, wrongfully imprisoned, and reunite her with her rich uncle, a sheikh, in London.
Fisher succeeds in her assignment but is soon immersed in another, more formidable quest — for justice. This involves a curse, a coverup, the crypt of the title (built, it turns out, by none other than Alexander the Great) and a priceless pendant known as the All-Seeing Eye.
Befitting its stand-alone status as a feature film, “Crypt” had Melbourne impersonate London and used Morocco with its Sahara desert and massive Ridley Scott-constructed set from “Kingdom of Heaven” for Palestine.
Phryne Fisher has already inspired an Acorn TV Original spin-off series, “Ms. Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries,” which updates the setting to Swinging ’60s Melbourne with its Mod furniture, cars and characters led by reckless Peregrine Fisher (Geraldine Hakewill), Phryne Fisher’s niece, an aspiring sleuth.