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The Alphabet Murders (1965)

5.4
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Ratings: 5.4/10 from 913 users  
Reviews: 27 user | 9 critic

Hercule Poirot investigates a series of murders in London in which the victims are killed according to their initials.

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(screenplay), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Amanda Beatrice Cross
...
Maurice Denham ...
...
Duncan Doncaster
Sheila Allen ...
Lady Diane
James Villiers ...
Franklin
...
Don Fortune
Grazina Frame ...
Betty Barnard
Clive Morton ...
'X'
Cyril Luckham ...
Richard Wattis ...
Wolf
David Lodge ...
Sergeant
Patrick Newell ...
Cracknell
Austin Trevor ...
Judson
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Storyline

The Belgian detective Hercule Poirot investigates a series of murders in London in which the victims are killed according to their initials. The first victim is A.A. the second B.B. and so on. Poirot is assisted in his investigations by Captain Hastings and Inspector Japp. Written by Mike Hatchett <hatchetts13@webtv.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

It's really no mystery why this girl is MURDER... it's as simple as ABC if you look hard enough! See more »

Genres:

Crime | Mystery | Comedy

Certificate:

See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

17 May 1966 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The ABC Murders  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film is based on Agatha Christie's "The ABC Murders." At the time The Alphabet Murders was made, ABC Cinemas was a major chain in Britain. Christie's title was changed to avoid them being offended (and possibly even refusing to screen the film). See more »

Goofs

The sleeping Mrs Fortune's mouth changes position from shot-to-shot, and occasionally doesn't match the snoring soundtrack. See more »

Quotes

Hastings: Where have you been? What have you been doing?
Hercule Poirot: Arranging a little extra insurance my friend.
Hastings: Oh really? Personally I always feel perfectly safe with British railways. Mind you its very different in France, isn't it?
Hercule Poirot: I wouldn't know. I am not French, I am Belgian.
Hastings: Well it's the same thing, you both eat horsemeat.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Tony Randall emerges from Borehamwood Studios' Stage 4 to introduce the film and acknowledge his own starring credit, first as himself and then in full Poirot make-up and character. See more »

Connections

Spun-off from Murder Ahoy (1964) See more »

Soundtracks

Rule Britannia
(uncredited)
Music by Thomas Arne
Arranged by Ron Goodwin
See more »

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User Reviews

Distance
4 March 2006 | by (Virginia Beach) – See all my reviews

I'm quirky about Christie mysteries, so take this comment with caution. Most viewers seem to think this a failed comedy, a poor "Pink Panther," and I liked it.

First, the form of the thing: in key plot elements, it is a rather close adaptation of a Christie book where a murderer "tells a story" in his murders in order to throw the police off. So it begins by being a story about fooling the detective inside another story (the movie) about trying to fool us as detectives.

The clue is about words. As a mystery, it is one of the clever explorations that Agatha had, looking at every way she could legally twist the convention of the form.

The tone of the thing is what is at issue. Peter Sellers had just had a hit with "Pink Panther" as a bumbling French detective and Poirot inherits some of this. Christie intended for him to be comic in a pompous way, and to varying degrees played with the tension between his genteel buffoonery and his sharp mechanical mind. It was not a simple joke, because her goal in part was to both describe and comment on how such an interesting mind would work.

She explored this indirectly by describing his manner, his minor superstitions, his attention to domestic ritual, the vanity of the perfect phrase, whether as a thought or a courtesy. She couldn't do that with Marple, who was as sharp but whose mind and manner was crass and impolite.

So part of the game for me in watching film versions is in how the adapter treats the relationship with the viewer so far as the mystery proper. There are all sorts of narrative mechanics that are involved there than aren't worth mentioning now. The other part is in how the mind of the detective is portrayed, and since we can only see the mind through the story (as I just said) and in the person's manner, that manner is key.

I think I liked this Poirot better than any of the others. They're all comic in one way or another, and this one seems further in tone from what was written. It is, but it may be closer in intent even though its in a context of Jerry Lewis slapstick.

Consider this: in mystery your mind and the detective's are supposed to parallel each other in important ways. In creating a version of the story -- the truth -- despite attempts to force it others wise, you both do this. So in fact, you create the world itself in a way. Some of the basic mechanics are frozen in life as in the genre, but others are completely open for you both to make: matters of how clever fate is, how comic are the wheels of nature, how inevitable is justice, what justice means, how conscience and consequence matter.

If the filmmaker can harmonize the tone of what you as viewer see and create in your own mind of the world, with what your surrogate the detective does, then he has succeeded and you can enter the movie whole.

This movie seems trivial. I think it is all but impossible to see. But it succeeds with its Poirot where no other attempt does.

Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.


15 of 23 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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