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Mystery fans were fortunate in the late 1980s to have no less than 3 definitive television performances to enjoy: Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes, Joan Hickson as Miss Marple, and David Suchet as Hercule Poirot. Suchet's performance as the fussy little Belgian detective was a joy. Every detail of the character was perfect, from the stilted, pedantic delivery to the exquisitely fastidious grooming. Suchet's skill as an actor was such that he was able to turn a rather flat, implausible character (and even fans of Agatha Christie admit that her characters are pretty two-dimensional) into a complex, eccentric but essentially believable person. Some of the credit for this also goes to the fine writing in the series. The writers were responsible for fleshing out the bare bones provided by Christie's stories, but they did it in such a way that the filmed versions flow naturally and seamlessly. The supporting actors were also very fine, especially Hugh Fraser as Captain Hastings - whereas in the stories Hastings, who is usually the narrator, remains a rather sketchy character, here he becomes a genuine person. He is not Poirot's mental equal by any means, but admirable in his sympathy, kindness and general embodiment of Englishness, and we can understand Poirot's affection for Hastings. It's difficult to see how this dramatization can be improved upon.
David Suchet is absolutely the best Hercule Poirot I have ever seen. He personifies the Hercule in Agatha Christie's books perfectly. Also, Hugh Fraser (Hastings) and Philip Jackson (Japp) play their parts wonderfully. This show has a very good story line and each episode has a baffling mystery. If you are a mystery fan, I recommend this show to you. Make sure you look for it!
Poirot is an excellent tv series, with great production values and an
The only bad thing I can say about it is that I've already seen every episode 5 times, and remember how they all end.
David Suchet is excellent as the refined, French speaking (Walloon) Belgian detective of the title. On all his cases, he is ably assisted by his Watson, Captain Hastings, and his secretary Miss Lemon. The series is set in the thirties, and the characters still carry the scars of the first world war with them, while at the same time omens of the next conflict are ever present. A fourth member of the cast is their modern Art Deco apartment building. The jazzy score gives an extra feeling for the period.
Anyway, if you haven't seen this little gem already, don't miss it. It is as good as Agatha Christie's other detective series Miss Marple, with Joan Hickson.
The adventures of eccentric Belgiun sleuth Hercule Poirot and Captain
Hastings, his British through and through sidekick. Other characters to
appear in most episodes include Poirot's secretary and close friend
Miss Lemon and Chief Inspector Japp of Scotland Yard who is close to
Poirot even though he has often been outwitted by him and cannot adjust
to Poirot's eccentric lifestyle.
Since it began in 1989 with "The Adventure Of The Clapham Cook", over thirty episodes have been made, including hour-long dramatisations of Agatha Christie's short stories and feature-length episodes of the full length novels featuring the detective. The series for some people marked a breath of fresh air from the overblown cinema films of the 1970's-80's like "Murder On The Orient Express" and "Evil Under The Sun", in which actors were cast on the basis of their celebrity status rather than their suitability to Agatha Christie's characters. This series has always chosen actors who are not big name stars, but many have had wide experience on stage and television and suit the parts down to the ground. The series is also distinguished by its impeccable production values and a remarkable attention to period detail of the mid-1930's with its cars, clothes and gloriously designed art-deco sets. In 1997 David Suchet announced that he would never play Poirot again after the filming of "Dumb Witness", but fortunately he has since returned his most celebrated role and it looks as if we've got many more of these quality films to look forward to. Of course the series has often fallen below it's own standard, but I am one who feels that Suchet is the definitive Poirot, just like some believe Joan Hickson to be the definitive Miss Marple. Suchet really does live his most famous role. In an interview he talked about how he has read all of Agatha Christie's Poirot novels and in doing so has created a dossier of all the characters eccentricities and habits in order to enhance his excellent performances.
Here are some of my favourite episodes;
1. Evil Under The Sun (2002) 2. Lord Edgware Dies (2000) 3. The ABC Murders (1992) 4. The Mystery Of Hunters Lodge (1991) 5. One Two Buckle My Shoe (1992) 6. The Case Of The Missing Will (1993)
The Case Of The Missing Will stands out for me because the original short story by Christie was very short and there wasn't much to it, it gave me the impression of something she wrote just to fill the gap in the short story collection entitled "Poirot Investigates". The screen writers had to add to it considerably, even to the extent of adding new characters and plot wise there was very little of the Christie stuff left in it. Sometimes you'd expect this situation to end in disaster, but in view of the circumstances I feel they did a first rate job. Like other episodes it was beautifully made as well.
The ABC Murders is another episode which is essential viewing for fans of this series. It had only been filmed once before as a dreadful comedy version called "The Alphabet Murders" in 1965, which starred Frank Tashlin as Poirot and Robert Morley as Hastings. In ITV's version under the skilled direction of Andrew Grieve, impeccable performances and tight editing, it came to full-blooded life as a dark, sinister and overall exciting thriller as Poirot tracks down an evil serial killer who travels around the country choosing his victims by their initials in the order of the alphabet. This really should have made the big-screen paired with the above in support.
Granada Television scored another hit with David Suchet's faithful
delineation of the irritating little habits and precise fastidiousness of
Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot to provide the most credible
to date. The same production company had also been responsible for the
earlier extremely watchable Sherlock Holmes series with the incomparable
Jeremy Brett. Although Sir Peter Ustinov gave colourfully entertaining
performances in various movie and TV dramatisations (`Death on the Nile',
`Evil Under the Sun', etc.) his pompous Belgian detective always seemed too
large and gregarious to be convincingly possessed of all the little foibles
of Christie's narratives.
Hugh Fraser is appropriately laid back as Poirot's companion, Captain Hastings, in noticeable contrast to his more commanding Wellington in the enjoyable and successful ITV dramatisations of Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe novels. A convincing Chief Inspector Japp is provided by Philip Jackson who, whilst in respectful awe of Poirot still attempts to promote Scotland Yard as other than the implied bunch of duffers most famous fictional private detectives encounter. Pauline Moran played the ever-efficient assistant Miss Felicity Lemon. Other than these four constants, a host of guest actors, directors, scriptwriters and cinematographers were involved in the series to provide a variety of storylines and styles. Over the past decade Carnival Films amongst others have also made various one-offs with the same key cast.
The two episodes I have seen recently, and first shown in February 1989, seem to particularly warrant some observation on their themes. `The Third Floor Flat' makes a tongue-in-cheek comment on The Queen of Crime' herself with Poirot losing his bet with Hastings to detect the murder culprit in an amateurish theatrical play, as the writer (whom Poirot dismisses as `an imbecile') does not reveal all the facts until the wily detective on the stage has exposed the perpetrator to an assembled gathering of the usual suspects. In this instalment the motive for the inevitable murder is given as the absurdly flat refusal by one spouse to grant a divorce to the other, a common mechanism of Christie's that is rather extreme and not wholly satisfying. This episode is also notable for a rare display of emotion by Hastings when he is visibly shaken after his beloved vintage car is wrecked, and Josie Lawrence makes a guest appearance in one of her first straight roles after the comic improvisations of `Whose Line Is It Anyway'.
Fine photography and attention to detail prevail to create a nostalgic impression of 1930's London although there is not much evidence of the Great Depression affecting this particular society. There is a superb evocation of the art deco period with the Mansion flats being particularly impressive and similar to those found around Marylebone.
`Triangle at Rhodes' affords Poirot a chance to escape the London scene and his usual crowd, and provides us with a travelogue promotion, whilst also touching on attitudes to divorce. With her boyish husband (Peter Settelen) seemingly besotted with the archetypal femme fatale, Valentine Chantry (Annie Lambert) on her fifth marriage, Marjorie Gold (Angela Down; `Emma') makes a deliberately misleading impassioned proclamation on the ease of divorce in the 1930's claiming she is from the old fashioned generation that doesn't believe in it or holds with the modern attitude to life of `easy marriage, easy divorce.' If divorce was that easy then it is a contradiction to Christie's often used plot device for removing stubbornly recalcitrant partners. Although divorce was a painful experience for Dame Agatha herself in 1928 (with her husband's affair leading to her notorious disappearance for eleven days in 1926, the subject of Michael Apted's stylish 1979 film `Agatha') she does not address the issues with any feeling, only using it as a contrivance, unlike Charles Dickens some 70 years earlier in the 19th century with his social commentary in `Great Expectations', when there was little scope for women caught in an abusive marriage. With Italian troops occupying Rhodes there is some recognition of history as Poirot passes on his observation of the strengthening of harbour defences to a highly improbable MI5 type, ineffectively trying to hide as a harmless Major (Timothy Knightley) by paying unreciprocated attention towards another English hotel guest (Frances Low) holidaying on her own, who in turn seeks Poirot's protection.
Incidentally with 2001 being the 25th anniversary of Dame Agatha's death on 12 January 1976 her books are being relaunched by HarperCollins and the Palace Theatre in Westcliff-On-Sea, Essex has dedicated a festival season to all 23 of her plays.
The original Granada series is available in DVD and VHS tape formats from Amazon and Britannia Music.
There were many one hour and somewhat less two hour episodes of the Hercule Poirot mysteries shown on PBS; and foresighted fans should have taped them then, because when A&E re-runs them, parts of each have to be removed to make room for all the commercials. Very often, the solution at the end flashbacks to scenes that we never saw because of the abridgments and frankly the value of these episodes are reduced considerably. But now Acorn Media is reissuing them in complete versions, with the two hour features on DVD and the shorter ones on VHS. Both series are a delight. The acting genius of David Suchet is enhanced by his usual supporting cast (Hugh Fraser as Hastings, Philip Jackson as Japp, and Pauline Moran as Miss Lemon), the wonderful guest casts, the done-to-perfection ambiance of time and place--the late 20s and early 30s--with all those fabulous art-deco buildings they have managed to find and populate. The first boxed set of 3 episodes contains "The Disappearance of Mr. Davenheim," "The Veiled Lady," and "The Lost Mine." In the first, you might spot a bad flaw in the solution. Hint: how long was the playing time of the average 78 rpm disc back then? The second set includes "The Cornish Mystery" (with a genuine "blonde hussy"), "Double Sin" (with a Sweet Young Thing in Distress), and "The Adventure of the Cheap Flat" (with a neat reversal on the plot of Doyle's "The Red Headed League"). And if too many solutions depend on Poirot overhearing by chance some remark early in the story, well that should teach you to be more alert to these things on future viewings. Also if Poirot is not above breaking the law with a little forced entry now and then, well so did Sherlock Holmes. Released at the same time as the DVD edition of "The ABC Murders," ;Death in the Clouds concerns a killing on an airplane during which Poirot himself is fast asleep. As in all Christie mysteries, the red herrings keep coming; but as in few Christie mysteries, not all that many characters have the opportunity to be near the victim at the right time. (Many mystery writers are fond of "the crowded murder scene" in which every character was able to reach the victim at just the right time.) And although you might feel cheated at the solution--and this one is a tad far fetched--you had so much fun up to that point that you don't really feel like carping. The ABC Murders in my opinion is one of the better Poirot mystery novels and it transfers very well to the screen. First of all do not confuse it with the horrible film "The Alphabet Murders" with Tony Randall. This is a fairly faithful adaptation of the Christie novel that has Poirot and Chief Inspector Japp chasing after a serial killer who matches the initials of his victims with the name of the town in which they are killed. And although the murderer turns out to be not exactly the least likely suspect, there are enough red herrings--one gigantic, the rest minor--to keep you guessing until the inevitable scene in which all concerned are gathered in one place to hear how the Master has solved it all There is a bit of nonsense with Hastings' stuffed souvenir of the South American jungles and the last murder is shown but its purpose is not explained as it is in the original. Very amusing sleuthing for one and all--and a very welcome relief to the grizzly "modern" mysteries now being shown with extreme close-ups, whispered dialogue, and as much gore as possible in each frame.
As far as I am concerned, David Suchet is the best ever Poirot. He looks like the picture one would have in one's mind when reading the books. Peter Ustinov was an excellent actor but did not look like Porot at all. The main characters are also excellent and you warm to them easily. Hastings is loyal, terribly British and a perfect foil for Poirot. He is intelligent but without any imagination. This makes him ideal for gathering information for Poirot. Japp is basically an good old fashioned sound copper, who has problems solving anything remotely difficult. BUT he his intelligent enough to use Poirot whenever possible rather than trying to compete with him. As with the other characters, Miss lemon is perfectly efficient with just about the right dry sense of humour,
What can be said about Mr Hercule. Is it his perfectly groom mustaches?
His great and always neat suits? I will tell you...His use of the
little gray cells(to poirot saying "use the gray cells" is saying use
your brain and look at things from a different perspective.
I have been, not only an Agatha Christie fan, but i just simply adore Poirot. He is brilliant and its fascinating the way he solves the crimes! Reading the books is good, but watching Mr. David suchet play the role in any poirot film is brilliant casting and he brings the character to life! If any of you have read the books and have not seen any of them brought to life, i suggest watching any poirot film starring suchet, you will not be disappointed! Enjoy!
At first I was somewhat lukewarm towards the Poirot series; although my
family was enthused with the episodes I found them a bit bland. The Sherlock
Holmes programs from Ramada starring Jeremy Brett made them seem boring in
comparison (and perhaps a vague memory of Ustinov playing Poirot didn't help
much). But after seeing Finney in Murder on the Orient Express I was
interested, and during a stay at isolated Bar Harbor, Maine I decided to
check out an episode of Poirot from the local library (oddly enough the same
one reviewed here previously).
Suffice it to say David Suchet is the definitive Poirot. He has in the past played American movie chieftens and diabolical Middle Eastern terrorists, but he portrayal of Hercule Poirot transcends them. The settings are perfect, proficiently replicating the Art Deco feel of the early 1930s. And Poirot's fastidiousness and simple directness make him unique amongst Agatha Christie's creations.
I highly recommend viewing these episodes.
Maybe I'm a bit sheltered when it comes to reading classic literature, but I have never read anything by Christie, and I never realized the character of Poirot was created by her. Despite this fact, I discovered a large collection of videos from the series at the local library...so I picked the first one from the set and checked it out. I wasn't expecting all that much, being that it's British, and like many Americans, I find that the two countries have very different tastes when it comes to television. I must tell you, I was very pleasantly surprised, and I like the episode very much. It was the episode, "The Disappearance of Mr. Davenheim," in which Poirot takes a bet from Japp that he cannot solve the case in 7 days without leaving the house. Poirot takes the bet, and the story progresses from there. The character of Poirot is very funny, and despite the fact that I have to strain to understand what he's saying sometimes (due to his accent), I like him a lot. This seems to be a great detective series, with superb writing and acting. The secondary characters of Japp, Hasting, and Ms. Lemon (I believe that's her name) are very well written as well. It's not your typical american fare, but it suits me just fine. I'll definitely be checking this show out when it comes on A&E, and I plan on checking out the rest of the series from the library. Great show. 10/10
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