August 2011


Murder on the Orient Express is – not unfairly – one of Christie’s most revered and famed novels. The story of the murder in the Calais Coach, and Hercule Poirot solving the case amidst the twelve suspects in a snowbound train was the source for 1974’s opening edition in the Poirot film series, a lavish and self-consciously nostalgic all-star film, and, more recently, David Suchet’s bleaker version which emphasised the moral trials that both the killer(s) and Poirot must undergo. In between came this little oddity, a modern take on the story with a more subdued Poirot and a somewhat cherry-picking approach to the story itself. Let’s take a look…

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Rue McClanahan and Stephanie Zimbalist in "The Man in the Brown Suit"

 Film review: “The Man in the Brown Suit” (1989)

with Stephanie Zimbalist (Anne Beddingfield), Ken Howard (Gordon Race), Edward Woodward (Sir Eustace Pedler), Rue McClanahan (Suzy Blair) and Tony Randall (Rev. Chichester)

written by Carla Jean Wagner

directed by Alan Grint

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 Following on from the success of ITV’s Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? and The Seven Dials Mystery, the network’s next foray into Christie was this ten-part series, The Agatha Christie Hour, which took lesser-known Christie stories – rarely murder mysteries – and gave them the one-hour TV treatment.

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Film Review: Ordeal by Innocence (1985)

 with Donald Sutherland (Dr. Arthur Calgary), Christopher Plummer (Leo Argyle), Annette Crosbie (Kirsten Lindstrom) and Faye Dunaway (Rachel Argyle)

 written by Alexander Stuart

directed by Desmond Davis

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The ’80s were Christie’s most prosperous decade for adaptations until the 2000s, with Peter Ustinov‘s Poirot, Joan Hickson‘s Marple, Francesca Annis and James Warwick as Tommy and Tuppence, and assorted other film and TV adaptations. While Christie had been disappointed with the vast majority of adaptations in her lifetime, the 80s would see her work treated far more reverently, and thus lead to David Suchet‘s purist revival in the 90s. Yet, however obliquely, most of these would not have been possible without this pair of TV movies from the start of the decade.

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This week, I’ve watched and reviewed all five major film adaptations of Dame Agatha’s And Then There Were None. Today, I’m awarding the winner in each category. So please join us…

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Welcome back to the final in my series of reviews of the various adaptations of And Then There Were None. Today it’s the most recent English-language film, 1989’s Ten Little Indians.

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