After spending much of 2013 watching oh, so many Agatha Christie adaptations, I decided to put together a list of all her novels and short story collections, and whether and when they have been adapted for film. I’ll attempt to keep this updated as new information comes to mind, particularly since it appears that 2017 will be the start of yet another new era of adaptations for the Queen of Crime. See below:
(list updated – September 2016)
Notes: Christie is rivalled only by Shakespeare for the position of most-translated author of all time. As a result, I have included here only English-language adaptations. For the most part, I have only included adaptations that are commercially available; for instance, several short stories were adapted as episodes of anthology TV series in the 1950s, however many of these are either lost or will probably never be available on DVD. Since I can’t personally clarify details of these, I have not included them.
However, what exists here should still be a good record of all ‘major’ adaptations of Christie’s novels and short stories (I have included some of the early, unavailable Poirot and Marple films simply for completion’s sake) and also, as a result, a list of those that remain to be adapted. Where possible, you can click on the link the square brackets to see my review. Please post a comment below if you have any updates or suggestions. Thanks.
(novels not adapted are in red; short story collections that have been partially adapted are in orange)
Agatha Christie adaptations
Poirot, Christie’s punctilious, Belgian detective, is probably her most recognisable character. He has been played on film by Austin Trevor in the 1930s (although these films are unavailable now); Tony Randall in the ’60s; Albert Finney in the ’70s; Peter Ustinov in the ’70s and ’80s; Alfred Molina in 2001; and David Suchet from 1989 to 2014. Having adapted every Poirot novel and short story, as well as performing in a reading of the play Black Coffee, Suchet has run the gamut of Poirot’s existence. On BBC Radio, he has been played by Maurice Denham and Peter Sallis, as well as the principal interpreter of the role: the late John Moffatt. Poirot novels were also used as the basis for some of the Miss Marple films starring Margaret Rutherford. Poirot will next be seen, if Kenneth Branagh gets his way, in a big-budget Hollywood release of Murder on the Orient Express due for Christmas 2017.
01. The Mysterious Affair at Styles [DS] [radio: JM]
02. The Murder on the Links [DS] [radio: JM]
03. Poirot Investigates (short story collection) [all filmed by DS: “Agatha Christie’s Poirot”]
04. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd [AT: “Alibi”] [DS] [radio: JM]
05. The Big Four [DS]
06. The Mystery of the Blue Train [DS] [radio: MD]
06b. Black Coffee (play) [AT] [radio: JM]
07. Peril at End House [DS] [radio: JM]
11. Death in the Clouds [DS] [radio: JM]
12. The A.B.C. Murders [TR: “The Alphabet Murders”] [DS] [radio: JM] [BBC Adaptation planned 2017]
13. Murder in Mesopotamia [DS] [radio: JM]
14. Cards on the Table [DS] [radio: JM]
15. Dumb Witness [DS] [radio: JM]
17. Murder in the Mews (short story collection) [all filmed by DS: “Agatha Christie’s Poirot”]
19. Hercule Poirot’s Christmas [DS] [radio: PS]
20. Sad Cypress [DS] [radio: JM]
21. One, Two, Buckle My Shoe [DS] [radio: JM]
23. Five Little Pigs [DS] [radio: JM]
24. The Hollow [DS]
25. The Labours of Hercules [DS]
26. Taken at the Flood [DS] [radio: JM]
29. Hickory Dickory Dock [DS]
31. Cat Among the Pigeons [DS]
32. The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding (short story collection) [all filmed for DS: “Agatha Christie’s Poirot”] [radio: JM – title story only]
33. The Clocks [DS]
34. Third Girl [DS]
35. Hallowe’en Party [DS] [radio: JM]
36. Elephants Can Remember [DS] [radio: JM]
37. Poirot’s Early Cases (short story collection) [all filmed by DS: “Agatha Christie’s Poirot” except The Lemesurier Inheritance]
38. Curtain [DS]
* please note: other Poirot short stories have appeared in various collections. However, these are either the same stories in newer omnibuses, or stories that were later expanded by Christie into novels, plays or larger short stories, and so are no longer considered part of the “traditional” Poirot canon.
Miss Jane Marple
Miss Marple, the elderly, keen-eyed spinster from the village of St. Mary Mead, is undoubtedly Christie’s other most well-known and prolific detective. She was first played by Gracie Fields in a 1950s television version of A Murder is Announced, although this is not commercially available. Her noted interpreters are Margaret Rutherford in the ’60s; Helen Hayes and Angela Lansbury in the ’80s; Joan Hickson in the ’80s and ’90s; Geraldine McEwan and then Julia McKenzie in the ’00s. On BBC Radio, she has been played by June Whitfield in adaptations of all Marple’s novels.
(All Marple novels have been adapted several times, with Hickson and Whitfield completing the canon, and McKenzie and McEwan sharing the job between them. However, unlike Poirot, her short stories have mostly not been filmed.)
02. The Thirteen Problems (short story collection) [JMc: two stories – The Thumb Mark of St Peter (as part of Greenshaw’s Folly) & The Blue Geranium – for “Agatha Christie’s Marple”]
11. The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding (one short story only: “Greenshaw’s Folly” – JMc)
14. Miss Marple’s Final Cases (short story collection)
Tommy and Tuppence
Tommy and Tuppence Beresford begin their lives as giddy spies in the aftermath of WWI, but find it hard to retire, even as they age and have children and grandchildren of their own. Their most notable interpreters are James Warwick and Francesca Annis in the 1980s series Partners in Crime, and were portrayed by Anthony Andrews and Greta Scacchi on the series Agatha Christie’s Marple. More recently, David Walliams and Jessica Raine tackled the pair in 2015.
01. The Secret Adversary [JW/FA] [DW/JR]
02. Partners in Crime (short story collection) [JW/FA – except for a few stories]
03. N or M? [DW/JR]
04. By the Pricking of My Thumbs [AA/GS]
05. Postern of Fate
Although less prominent in some novels, Battle has a good showing in his own stories, as well as appearing alongside Poirot in Cards on the Table. Adaptations have generally excised the character, although he was played by Harry Andrews in the 1981 film of The Seven Dials Mystery. Other novels have been adapted with Geraldine McEwan and then Julia McKenzie as Miss Marple, or as films.
01. The Secret of Chimneys [JMc: “Agatha Christie’s Marple”]
02. The Seven Dials Mystery [1981 film – HA]
(Cards on the Table – “Agatha Christie’s Poirot“]
Ex-army Colonel Race appears alongside Poirot in Death on the Nile and Cards on the Table, but also gets two novels of his own. His son appears in The Clocks. Race was played by David Niven in the ’70s and then James Fox on Poirot but has often been excised from films of his stand-alone novels.
01. The Man in the Brown Suit [1988 film]
(Cards on the Table – “Agatha Christie’s Poirot“)
02. Sparkling Cyanide [1983 film] [2003 film]
01. Parker Pyne Investigates (short story collection) [MD – 2 stories only for “The Agatha Christie Hour”]
02. Problem at Pollensa Bay (short story collection)
Harley Quin and Mr. Satterthwaite
Quin and Satterthwaite appear as a pair only in short story form, although Satterthwaite later returns to meet Poirot in Three Act Tragedy. Despite their being some of Christie’s own favourite detectives, the pair have not received any adaptations outside of an early 1920s film starring Stewart Rome as Quin.
01. The Mysterious Mr. Quin (short story collection)
(Three Act Tragedy – “Agatha Christie’s Poirot“)
02. Problem at Pollensa Bay
Mrs. Oliver, the rip-roaring murder mystery novelist with an intense love/hate relationship with her Finnish detective character, is Dame Christie’s sly nod to herself, and usually appears alongside Poirot. She has been played on television by Lally Bowers in The Agatha Christie Hour, by Jean Stapleton in the ’80s and by Zoë Wanamaker in the ’00s. Her single stand-alone appearance, The Pale Horse, has been adapted as a film and for Agatha Christie’s Marple with Julia McKenzie, although Oliver was excised both times.
01. Parker Pyne Investigates [LB – “The Agatha Christie Hour”]
02. Cards on the Table [ZW – “Agatha Christie’s Poirot]
03. Dead Man’s Folly [JS] [ZW – “Agatha Christie’s Poirot”]
04. The Pale Horse [1996 film] [JMc – “Agatha Christie’s Marple”]
05. Third Girl [ZW – “Agatha Christie’s Poirot”]
06. Hallowe’en Party [ZW – “Agatha Christie’s Poirot”]
07. Elephants Can Remember [ZW – “Agatha Christie’s Poirot”]
A solid majority of Christie’s non-series novels have been adapted, and I have included the prominent adaptations below, including those that were adapted for Agatha Christie’s Marple with either Julia McKenzie and Geraldine McEwan. Most non-series short stories remain unfilmed, although several were done for The Agatha Christie Hour. For 2017-18, the BBC is planning numerous new adaptations, and Hollywood has also shown renewed interest, so who knows what lies ahead? Others – not listed here – were filmed in the ’40s and ’50s for TV anthology series, but are not commercially available.
The Sittaford Mystery [GMC – “Agatha Christie’s Marple”]
The Hound of Death (short story collection) [3 stories in “The Agatha Christie Hour”]
— short story “Witness for the Prosecution” adapted as a play (See ‘plays’ below)
The Listerdale Mystery (short story collection) [3 stories in “The Agatha Christie Hour”]
— short story “Love from a Stranger” adapted as “Philomel Cottage” [1937 film] [1947 film]
Death Comes as the End [BBC adaptation planned for 2017-18]
Crooked House [Hollywood film in the works for 2017]
They Came to Baghdad
Endless Night [1972 film] [JMc – “Agatha Christie’s Marple” – 2013]
Passenger to Frankfurt
Miss Marple’s Final Cases and other stories (short story collection) [1 non-Marple story as part of “The Agatha Christie Hour”]
Problem at Pollensa Bay (short story collection) [1 story for “The Agatha Christie Hour”]
While the Light Lasts (short story collection)
Christie wrote several plays, although many of them either remain unpublished, or are adaptations of novels or short stories. One – Black Coffee – is a Poirot play, and included in the “Poirot” section above. Below are Christie’s “big five”.
01. The Mousetrap (based on short story unpublished in the UK)
03. Spider’s Web (novelised by Charles Osbourne in 2000) [1960 film] [1982 film]
05. The Unexpected Guest (novelised by Charles Osbourne in 1999)
I’m always interested in hearing of any updates to this list, and the links to the novel reviews can be found here.