Month: August 2012

EP0737: Leonidas Witherall: Murder on the Train

Leonidas Witherall

Leonidas investigates a murder on a train.

Original Air Date: October 8, 1944

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EP0736: Frank Race: The Enoch Arden Adventure

Tom Collins

A beautiful young widow asks Race to find out if her husband is dead.

Original Air Date: April 2, 1949

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Telefilm Review: Death in the Clouds

On the same weekend I watched Death on the Nile.
Hercule Poirot (David Suchet) visits Tennis’ French Open in Paris. On the flight home, an elderly woman is murdered right under Poirot’s nose with the apparent murder weapon, a South American dart gun, planted near his seat. Poirot determines to find the murderer and restore his reputation.

Suchet is wonderful as Poirot, turning in one of the funniest moments in the series with his attempt to re-enact the murder during flight to Paris.

The story really keeps you guessing. I give myself credit with Poirot stories not at being able to guess who the murderer is but who the murder victim is. It’s usually obvious as he or she sets multiple people up with a motive in very obvious way. I really thought somone else was going to get it, but she turned out just to be a suspect. The murderered woman is an enigma and Poirot must ultimately find out who she was in order to uncover who may have wanted to kill her.

In this Hastingsless-entry, Philip Jackson turns a good performance as Inspector Japp. Although I thought he got a little belligerent with the poor French Police whose offices he acted like he owned after the French blew a tailing attempt.
While like Death on the Nile and Murder on the Orient Express, the murder occurred in an enclosed transportation vehicle, the investigation occurs off the plane in France and England due to the limitation of air travel. The movie is rich in historic atmosphere. One of the most interesting historical images from the series were men playing at Wimbledon wearing long pants: a nice historic touch.
While of the two programs I watched that week, Death on the Nile was a little more fun.  Once again, I was reminded of the consistent and remarkable quality of these ITV productions and the sheer volume of films they’ve produced that makes Suchet as Poirot a force to be reckoned with.
Rating: 4.25 out of 5.00

This film, along with all Poirot Telefilms through Series 6, is available on Netflix Instant Watch as of this writing.

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EP0735s: Father Brown: The Quick One

JT Turner

At a hotel, Father Brown tries to find out who killed an outspoken local man in a hotel bar.

Recorded: June 4,  2008

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Program played with Permission of Colonial Radio Theatre

Movie Review: Death on the Nile (1978)

In Death on the Nile, wealthy young heiress Linnet Ridgeway (Lois Chiles) is murdered on board a boat travelling down the Nile. The most likely suspect, a jealous ex-friend (Mia Farrow) from whom Ridgeway stole her fiance (Simon MacCorkindale) is eliminated because of being indisposed under the influence of morphine after shooting the dead woman’s husband in the leg. However Poirot (Peter Ustinov) does not find himself wanting for suspects as it seems everyone on the boat had a motive.

Death on the Nile was the second of three big screen adaptations made featuring Hercules Poirot in an eight year period from 1974-82. It has all the hallmarks of the other two Poirot films: luscious landscapes and an all-star cast. All three movies also have cases with very unique features  and in this one, no one but the most likely suspect has an alibi.

This was Ustinov’s first time appearing as Poirot and he does a marvelous job. His performance in Death on the Nile gave Poirot a great balance of dignity and humanity. While in Evil Under the Sun (1982), Poirot ends up getting played more comically, Ustinov gets it perfect here.

I’ve now seen all three films from this period and this was my favorite. All of them had features, but also some major flaws which slightly marred the experience making it so so. This is definitely not the case with Death on the Nile.

The cinematography and music is top notch. The all-star cast is used brilliantly playing as a solid team. Angela Lansbury is marvelous in her portrayal of a romance writer. And Mia Farrow turns in a fantastic performance as the menacing “spurned woman.” To top it all off, David Niven gives  a fantastic performance as Colonel Race, Poirot’s sidekick for this adventure and rarely has Poirot had better.

My only problem with this film is that Poirot’s initial theory seemed hard to swallow and harder still to believe Poirot would postulate. Still Agatha Christie asked us to believe it in a well-beloved mystery book, so I can’t knock it too much.

Rating: 4.75 out of 5.0

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