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|Lionel Jeffries||Cap. Rhumstone|
|Charles 'Bud' Tingwell||Inspektor Craddock|
|Henry Oscar||Lord Rudkin|
|Joan Benham||Alice Fanbraid|
|Nicholas Parsons||Dr. Crump|
|Stringer Davis||Mr. Stringer|
|Margaret Rutherford||Miss Jane Marple|
The action takes places mainly on board an old wooden-walled battleship, HMS Battledore, which has been purchased by a Trust for the rehabilitation of young criminals, and intended by the founder to put backbone into young jellyfish.Shortly after joining the board of management of the Trust, Miss Marple (Margaret Rutherford) witnesses the sudden death of a fellow trustee, who has just returned from a surprise visit to the ship. She manages to obtain a small sample of his snuff, which is found to have been poisoned. She visits the ship, much to the distress of the Captain and crew, who do not like visitors.Her first night on board, one of the officers is murdered - run through with a sword and then hanged. As the police investigation proceeds, the assistant matron is killed, apparently by a poisoned mousetrap.Miss Marple sets a trap by pretending to be left alone at night on the deserted ship, but secretly smuggling in Chief Inspector Craddock (Bud Tingwell) and another policeman. She finds a large sum of money hidden in a cannon which turns out to have been embezzled by Commander Breeze-Connington (William Mervyn), money he feels is owed to him after he was passed over for promotion. It was protected by a poisoned mousetrap. After the commander appears and admits all, Miss Marple calls out to the police inspector to make the arrest, but he and his colleague have accidentally been locked in and cannot help. Miss Marple and Breeze-Connington engage in a ferocious fencing match, before she is disarmed. Just as he is about to administer the coup de grace, however, he is hit over the head from behind by Mr. Stringer who, alarmed at what might be going on, had secretly rowed out in the dark.The finale is a court martial for Captain Rhumstone who has been accused of mismanagement. Seeing the hilt of the sword toward him, he mistakenly thinks he has been found guilty but is corrected by Miss Marple. Nevertheless, he announces that he must resign just the same because Matron wants to get married, and so does he. He fully realises that it is a golden rule of the trust that there should be no hanky-panky between the sexes on board ship, so he makes his farewell and turns to go. Miss Marple stops him, saying, "I think I speak for my fellow trustees when I say that golden rule is hereby rescinded. You're a fine sea dog captain, but it seems to me the Battledore could do with a woman's hand at the helm." As Matron and the Captain wave good-bye to Miss Marple, he says, "As soon as I saw her, I said, 'What an old darling'!"