Well, it’s been an interesting couple of years since I completed my initial project for this blog: one in which both Marple and Poirot finished their runs on ITV, and Hercule Poirot has returned for two new mystery novels by Sophie Hannah. Now, in the 100th anniversary of Dame Agatha’s first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, it seems as if we’re on the cusp of a Christie Renaissance.
2015 saw two new works I’ve not yet renewed: a controversial BBC adaptation of And Then There Were None, and a six-part adaptation of two Tommy and Tuppence novels, Partners iN Crime. And Hannah’s two novels – The Monogram Murders and Closed Casket – have helped thrust the Golden Age of Crime Fiction back into the spotlight. (I intend to review the latter of those novels sooner or later.) From France to Japan, non-English language versions of the Dame’s works seem to be growing more and more prolific.
2016 has been something of a drought, but news from the BBC and Hollywood suggests that we won’t have to wait much longer:
- Kenneth Branagh has decided (for better or worse) to adapt a new, all-star version of that Poirot classic, Murder on the Orient Express. The project is currently scheduled for November 2017, although Hollywood always has other plans. How will Branagh’s typically luxurious style compare to the oddball 2001 TV movie update? I’m intrigued, to say the least.
- Already adapted in the ’50s with Marlene Dietrich, and again in the ’80s with Dame Diana Rigg, Christie’s classic and successful play Witness for the Prosecution is now receiving not one but two adaptations. The first, a two-part BBC telemovie starring Kim Cattrall and Toby Jones, will premiere in – we assume – early 2017. The second is a thus-far vague Hollywood adaptation by Ben Affleck.
- As if that wasn’t enough, Julian Fellowes – of Downton Abbey fame – has written an adaptation of one of my favourite Christie novels, Crooked House, which has never before been filmed. With an announced (although not necessarily confirmed) cast including Gillian Anderson, Glenn Close, Christina Hendricks, and Terence Stamp, this project sounds particularly exciting. It is due for release in 2017, all things going well.
- Meanwhile, with the BBC having reclaimed all of Dame Christie’s rights from ITV (which almost definitely puts the final nail in Marple’s coffin after 6 delightful years), seven new adaptations have been announced. Details are not known for most of them but we have 3 titles: The ABC Murders (whether they’ll retain Poirot or sub him out, in light of David Suchet‘s still powerful aftertaste, who knows); Ordeal by Innocence (which was among the last of the Christie films during her last big-screen era in the ’80s, and which had a patchy adaptation by Geraldine McEwan’s Marple); and the never-before-filmed Death Comes as the End, set in Ancient Egypt and one of my Christie guilty pleasures.
The number of Christie novels never adapted is now quite few: the spy novels They Came to Baghdad, Destination Unknown and Passenger to Frankfurt (all of which, I think, could be salvaged into spy films), and the final Tommy and Tuppence work, the forgettable Postern of Fate. Beyond this, many short stories remain untold, so there’s plenty of material there for the Beeb to work with.
With all of this news, we can only hope that the BBC allows for versatility in its directors, and a respect for the text. My own mixed feelings about the recent And Then There Were None aside, this could be a great chance to bring new readers to Christie’s works as her legacy enters its second century.