Lady Edgware, the well-known stage actress Jane Wilkinson, has a dilemma in that her husband has consistently refused to give her a divorce. She asks Hercule Poirot to visit the man to see if there is any possibility of convincing him. Lord Edgware is nothing short of nasty, treating all those around him very badly. When he is found dead, there is no great surprise, but there certainly are a good number of suspects. The police believe Lady Edgware to be the culprit, but she has a cast-iron alibi, having attended a private dinner over the time her husband was killed. There is also the man's nephew, who would inherit his fortune, and his personal assistant, whom he treated very badly; and then there is the family butler, who clearly has his own interests at heart. Written by
The 1985 film 'Thirteen At Dinner (1985) (TV)', starring Peter Ustinov as Hercule Poirot, was also based on the book "Lord Edgware Dies." In that film David Suchet appears as Inspector Japp. See more »
When Lucie Adams arrives to visit her sister Carlotta (who has already been murdered) her taxi pulls up on modern double yellow no parking lines. See more »
Do not be anxious, madam. All will be arranged. You have my word.
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You have to hand it to the BBC. They regularly come up with these nifty series -- Sherlock Holmes, Inspector Morse, Hercule Poirot. If the plots themselves sometimes meander, well, so what? They're filled with subtle character touches and locations that are so colorfully evoked that you're tempted to send a postcard from them.
Poirot's stories are encased in art moderne, beginning with the opening credits and the broop-de-broop of the alto saxophone. London, or the stately country estates, have never looked so elegant, so clean. The city has no garbage; every facade looks freshly painted; the wardrobe is always impeccable; the people posh, except for the butlers and maids. Travel is first class. There is usually a toothsome babe or two, and a couple of scurrilous men -- just the right ratio.
Like most of Christie's plots, this one is pretty convoluted. A minor sub-plot involves a crime other than the one that begins with the death of the despicable Lord Edgeware. Everybody and his brother and sister and impersonator has a motive for killing the frigid old dude. I mean, he won't even take a drink with his secretary when she humbly asks him to, and in fact dresses her down for "acting above your station." But, lamentably, there are so many characters with unfamiliar faces that I lost track of them at times. I never thought I'd prefer one of those mega-buck ensemble features with a recognizable face in every part, but I enjoy the splashy features better -- "Murder on the Orient Express" and "Death On The Nile." The characters still have those WASPy names like Whittington and Edgeware and Borden and Leighton, but I know Sean Connery when I see him, whatever name he happens to be lugging around. Why couldn't the author have been more inventive? Look at Dickens: he gave us memorable names like Micawber, Scrooge, Mr. Bumble, and Orestes Klebb. Well, not that last one, but you get the picture. If a writer is going to crowd the story with suspects, they must have individualized handles.
Still, it's a visual treat. Suchet is always fine, mincing around and fiddling with things. Hastings is the audience proxy. Inspector Japp is the rather grim and determined arm of the law, and the rest of the body of law too, the feet and legs and all that.
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