Recovering from the horrors of World War I, British Army officer Arthur Hastings hopes to find peace and quiet at a country manor in the English countryside. But when the matriarch dies during the night from strychnine poisoning, Hastings enlists the help of an old friend staying nearby with other war refugees to help solve the murder: former Belgian police detective Hercule Poirot. Written by
'The Mysterious Affair at Styles' was Agatha Christie's first novel, published in 1920, and also her first to feature the character of Hercule Poirot. See more »
When Poirot starts to rebuild the house of cards, he first leans two vertical cards against each other then leans the five of spades horizontally against them. However after a brief cut to Captain Hastings the horizontal card has changed to the two of spades. See more »
[talking to other Belgian refugees about a wildflower]
Another example of the English bucolic belief - anagallis arvensis, the scarlet pimpernel. It is believed that when this flower is open, it is a sign of a proplonged spell of fine weather. It is seldom seen open in this country.
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Not so 'stylish' but a commendable representation of Poirot's first case
The Mysterious Affair at Styles, published in 1920, is a historic novel in 2 ways: It launched the literary career of the 'Queen of Crime'-Agatha Christie and it introduced to the world the greatest fictional detective after the legendary Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot. Beyond its historical significance and the fact that it was obviously well-written with a well-constructed plot, the novel is not really considered remarkable when you stack it up against some of Christie's far superior and far more famous works published over the next several decades (The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Murder on the Orient Express, Death on the Nile, A Murder is Announced, And Then There Were None stand out as some exceptional works), but nevertheless, it certainly deserved an adaptation of some sort which is precisely what Granada did for the centenary of Christie's birth year...
STYLES tells the story of how the Belgian sleuth, Hercule Poirot(David Suchet), who is a refugee from his native land during the First World War, ends up being invited by his old English friend, Arthur Hastings (Hugh Fraser) to investigate the murder of a wealthy old woman, Mrs Inglethorp, who died under mysterious circumstances in her country house, Styles Court, in the middle of the night. Poirot puts his detective skills to good use, investigating the scene of the crime, interviewing suspects and witnesses, collecting evidence and ultimately using the little 'grey cells' of the brain to discover the hidden truths of the matter. There are certainly no shortage of suspects in this case: There is Mrs. Inglethorps eldest son to consider, not to mention his wife and younger brother; there is her protégée and of course her much younger second husband who is hated by the rest of the family. Clues are in abundance as well: a smashed coffee cup, a glass of cocoa, a burnt document, a piece of green thread... The differences between STYLES and other Poirot adaptations which Suchet acted in become apparent-there is the setting to consider; Poirot is no longer (or rather, hasn't yet reached) the Art Deco settings of 1930's London; his reputation is briefly hinted at but he still isn't considered the greatest and most famous detective of Europe; Hastings too is just getting used to the idea of playing the slow sidekick to a great mind. There are also certain differences derived from the fact that this is Christie's first novel, like the abundance of clues and tangible evidence, the vast number of red herrings (later Christie stories would have more subtle psychological elements), the excessive stereotyping of the characters etc. But all this shouldn't spoil your enjoyment of a well-directed and acted TV movie. A must watch for all Christie and Poirot fans!
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