Telefilm Review: Thirteen At Dinner

In Thirteen at Dinner, Jane Wilkinson (Faye Dunaway) , an actress who is associated with a “dumb blonde” persona wants to divorce her husband, Lord Edgeware and asks Poirot (Peter Ustinov) to try and reason with her husband who she says is refusing her a divorce. Poirot, finds to his surprise that Lord Edgeware has long since dropped his objection.

When soon after this, Lord Edgeware’s murdered, suspicion falls on Wilkinson who has an airtight alibi, having been at a dinner with twelve other guests. Poirot has to unravel the mystery and find out who really killed Lord Edgeware.

Ustinov had portrayed Poirot in two motion pictures and this was the first of three outings for Television. The decline in overall quality is noticeable. The program is supposed to be set in the 1980s, but it feels like it was only half way updated, giving it a feel that’s neither contemporary nor old style.

Faye Dunaway is okay, but not at her best in this film. The appearance of David Suchet as Inspector Japp was a treat, although he doesn’t quite fill the bill with this Japp being quite a bit more grumpy and less trusting of Poirot than he’s been elsewhere portrayed and much more like the typical police detective. Amanda Pays made a brief appearance. The rest of the supporting cast was no help at all with Jonathan Cecil turning in a weak performance as Captain Hastings.

What ultimately saved the production was the story and the performance of Peter Ustinov as Poirot. And even then, the overall package is mediocre at best.

Rating: 3.25 out of 5.0

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