Category: Hercule Poirot

Telefilm Review: Death on the Nile

This was third episode in the ninth series of Poriot films starring David Suchet and was originally broadcast in 2004. It finds Poirot on vacation in the Middle East and embarking on a cruise down the Nile. However, all is not well. A wealthy American heiress stole her best friend’s fiance and married. The jilted woman decides to spitefully haunt the young married couple’s Honeymoon which was the same Honeymoon played by she and her former lover. Poirot attempts to intervene but tragedy escalated. The groom is shot and wounded by his ex-lover and the bride is found murdered. The most likely suspect has a perfect alibi.

With this Poirot begins his investigations and more bodies drop until Poirot gives a solution that turns everything the audience understood about the love triangle and other passengers on its head.

The film is brilliantly acted and filmed through out and an incredible adaptation of an incredible story. Naturally, I mentally compared to the Peter Ustinov film version and found it to be a draw. Both featured great lead actors, and a decent cast. Both deliniated from the original story to similar degrees though in slightly different ways. The biggest difference may be between the casts. For my money, I’ll take David Niven from the Ustinov movie over James Fox from the ITV story. Though, there is a case to be made that Angela Lansbury took her role of Salome Otterbourne over the top in the 1970s version and so the performance of Frances De La Tour may be preferable. Both versions are just extraordinary works that actually make you want to read the book if you haven’t.

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Telefilm Review: Sad Cypress

Sad Cypress tells the story of a young woman named Elinor Carlisle on trial for murder. Through flashbacks we see Elinor speaking to her dying aunt who she inherits a fortune from. A girl named Mary had won a place in her aunt’s heart and subsequently steals her beau Rodney. When Mary dies at a party held by Elinor. She’s arrested for murder and Poirot steps in to investigate.

This is actually one of the best adaptations I’ve seen yet. The mystery had me guessing until the end, the producers did a great job creating plenty of misdirection, to make this one a puzzler. It also really worked on an emotional level helped by a top notch score that created the perfect mood. Suchet was fabulous as always, making this a nearly perfect production.

Rating: 5.0 out of 5.0

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Telefilm Review: Five Little Pigs

Sixteen years after her mother was convicted of murdering her father and subsequently executed, a young woman asks Poirot to uncover the truth and clear her mother’s name.

To do this, Poirot begins a meticulous series of interviews, trying to jog the memories of witnesses and using their stories, he tries to piece together what really happened and to do that he has to cut through people’s biases which are as fresh they were when the murders first happened. The story is intriguing, intelligent, and the solution is shocking as perceptions are turned on their head. Suchet gives a sold performance as Poirot and the rest of the cast is well in this first episode not featuring the Poirot “family” of the first-eighth series.

The only downside is the ham-fisted tampering with the plot. They changed the sexuality of one character and added some gunplay at the end. The tampering was obvious and was distracting from the story. Still, Christie’s original story was so strong and Suchet’s acting so good, that it is still a must-see movie for mystery fans.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.0

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Telefilm Review: Murder in Mesopotamia

While on vacation in Iraq, Poirot meets up with an archaeologist and his wife. The wife confides in Poirot that she fears her former husband, a traitor who was declared dead, but was secretly alive and menaced nearly every relationship she entered after his apparent death until she met and married her husband. She gives Poirot a threatening letter she received. Before Poirot can get to the bottom of it, she’s murdered.

This is a solidly told mystery with a great surprise ending that is thoroughly well-adapted. The second episode of the eight series is noteworthy for being the last episode to date featuring Hugh Frasier as Captain Hastings, though he’s expected to appear the 13th series episodes, The Big Four and Curtain. The Hastings character wasn’t in the original book and he didn’t add much to this adaptation, so it was definitely time to move on.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.0

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Telefilm Review: Evil Under The Sun

Poirot’s Eight series in 2001 began with the telefilm of Evil Under the Sun. Poirot has an apparent heart attack after eating at Captain Hastings Argentinian restaurant, so on doctor’s orders he goes to an island to rest and to eat a healthier, blander diet. When he arrives, he finds actress Arlena Marshall has a large number of enemies on the island, thanks to her obvious stepping out on her husband with a man whose married to another woman, who is also on the island and witnessing this.

When the actress is murdered, there are plenty of suspects, though the wronged woman has an airtight alibi. With multiple suspects, Poirot seeks to find the truth with the help of Captain Hastings, Inspector Japp, and Miss Lemon.

This episode like Lord Edgeware Dies had been adapted as a film starring Peter Ustinov. Both the motion picture and this release made changes from the book. In this case, I think the changes made by the telefilm version were detrimental to the story. They changed the gender of the murdered woman’s stepchild which took a clue that was mostly unremarkable and made it stick out like a sore thumb. My wife, never a fan of mysteries had her hackles raised by a fact that would not have gone on her radar had the character been female as in the book.

In addition, attempts to keep the original Poirot family in the story were really awkward in this production and the part about Captain Hasting restaurant was especially problematic. It all seemed rather forced. It was with good reason that none of these characters have appeared since the eighth series despite how well they were liked through the first six and how much I look forward to the return of Hastings in the final one.

It’s a bit better than okay adaptation, but it could have been better and Ustinov’s take was far a far stronger version.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5.00

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