Malice Aforethought (1979) Hywel Bennett. TV Mini-series.
Stars: Hywel Bennett, Cheryl Campbell, David Ashford
Note: never officially released on video or dvd.
Francis Iles' original novel, written in the 1920s, broke the mould for crime fiction as it was not a wholly serious 'whodunnit' but a black comedy which revealed the murderer right from the outset and allowed the reader to be privvy to his every calculated thought as he conceives and executes his crime and then copes with the consequences of his actions.
This BBC adaptation, first broadcast in March 1979, is faithful to the book. All the names, characters and key scenes are intact and it captures perfectly the subtle underlying comedy without detriment to the drama of the piece.
Hywel Bennett is superb in the main role of the murderer, Dr Edmund Bickleigh. Fresh from appearing in the acclaimed Dennis Potter serial "Pennies From Heaven", he was about to achieve further success with this serial, then "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" and the sitcom "Shelley" which made him a household name. His performance here as Bickleigh is probably the pick of the bunch as he effortlessly steers the character through his many guises - hen-pecked husband, charming lover, scheming murderer and worried defendant.
Shot entirely on video and almost entirely on location this is a glossy television production for its time that, thanks to its 1920s setting, has hardly dated since its original transmission.
When someone acts with aforethought, he or she is in a state of mind which results in deliberate injury or death for another person. When it can be demonstrated that someone acted in this way, this fills the requirement of or “guilty mind” which is needed for certain types of convictions. A number of different things can be used to provide evidence that someone acted with malice aforethought and thus deserves a more severe penalty.
One form of malice aforethought involves the deliberate decision to injure or kill someone in advance of a crime. For example, if someone strings barbed wire across a bike path at neck level with the intent of unseating and injuring bikers so that they will stop using the path, this is malice aforethought. In this instance, the person is acting deliberately to cause harm and is making a conscious choice to do so in advance of the crime. Likewise, someone who buys a gun with the intention of shooting someone is also acting with deliberate intent to kill.
Another form involves behaving in a way which shows a deliberate disregard for human life or safety. In this case, someone decides to be reckless, rather than behaving recklessly out of thoughtlessness or lack of knowledge. This form of malice aforethought is used to charge people with stiff penalties when the kill or injure people in the course of committing a such as a bank robbery. The argument is that the accused acted with deliberate recklessness and thus demonstrated malice aforethought.
|Noun||1.||malice aforethought - (law) criminal intent; the thoughts and intentions behind a wrongful act (including knowledge that the act is illegal); often at issue in murder trials|
planning, preparation, provision - the cognitive process of thinking about what you will do in the event of something happening; "his planning for retirement was hindered by several uncertainties"
premeditation - (law) thought and intention to commit a crime well in advance of the crime; goes to show criminal intent
law, jurisprudence - the collection of rules imposed by authority; "civilization presupposes respect for the law"; "the great problem for jurisprudence to allow freedom while enforcing order"