"Agatha Christie's Poirot" Dumb Witness (TV Episode 1996) Poster

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Suchet almost upstaged by Bob
blanche-223 October 2014
Though David Suchet stars as Poirot in another wonderful adaptation of Christie's, "Dumb Witness," the true star of the film and the one who gives Poirot the final clue is Bob, played by Snubby, one of the most adorable dogs ever to hit the screen.

Poirot and Hastings are invited to watch Charles Arundell, a friend of Hasting's, to watch as he attempts to break a water speed record on a lake. Unfortunately, his boat's engine falters, and he has to jump out.

At a reception later, the guests overhear Charles' aunt refuse to give him any more money for the boat. That night, she is nearly killed when she falls down a flight of stairs. Her dog Bob's (Spunky) ball on the stair is blamed.

Aunt Emily tells Poirot that she's afraid one of her heirs is trying to kill her. He advises her to change her will and leave all of her money to a friend, not tell the friend, but tell the relatives. This way, they won't hurt her, hoping that she will change her mind at some point.

Emily takes his advice, but dies very suddenly. Poirot believes she was murdered and undertakes to investigate, since the local authorities refuse to do an autopsy. Poirot temporarily becomes Bob's owner as well. It's a good match. Poirot believes the dog knows who killed his owner and in time, will give him the evidence he needs.

Clever and entertaining film, and who knew that fastidious Poirot could be fond of a dog, albeit an irresistible one? The Fox terrier breed was popular in the '20s and '30s. It's odd how breeds go in and out of fashion.

There are plenty of suspects, and you'll go from one to the other as Poirot sits through a couple of séances, learns of another murder, and finally refuses to leave for London until a very important matter is settled.

Delightful episode, and a real favorite of mine.
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"An admirably eerie mystery!"
jamesraeburn200327 August 2003
Warning: Spoilers
I remember this particular episode for two reasons. Firstly it scared the living daylights out of me, and secondly at the time it was announced as David Suchet's final appearance as Poirot. Thankfully, though, David Suchet has not kept to this and he has made some more highly entertaining films as the Belgiun sleuth. These have included first rate adaptations of Lord Edgware Dies (2000) and Evil Under The Sun (2002).

Dumb Witness sees Hercule Poirot and Captain Hastings (Hugh Fraser)visiting the Lake District, where an old friend Charles Arundell is attempting to break the world water speed record. However, there is tension in the Arundell family when Charles's Aunt Emily, the one with all the money, falls down the stairs late one night. Poirot suspects foul play because members of the family would benefit greatly if she died. Poirot's fears are confirmed the next day when Aunt Emily dies in shocking circumstances. Poirot is convinced that the one person who knows the killer's identity is the family's fox-terrier Bob who will have to find is own way of telling him the truth.

An admirably eerie entry in this long running and successful series from Carnival Films. David Suchet and Hugh Fraser are on fine fettle, while the supporting cast, which includes veteran actress Muriel Pavlow who played Emma Ackenthorpe in the Margaret Rutherford Miss Marple adventure, Murder She Said (1962) as the dotty sister of an eccentric medium ably supports them. A few major changes were made from the original novel. For instance, the setting is changed from the small southern country town of Market Basing to Windermere in the Lake District in England's north west. In addition, in the book the murderer committed suicide, but here the guilty party is brought to justice while Dr Granger, whom was murdered in the film, wasn't in the original novel.
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Belgian Sleuth (and dog)
dbdumonteil6 January 2007
"This dog is very clever" Poirot says "He must be Belgian!"

A delightful adaptation of another Christie's classic : aptly titled cause the main witness is a dog .But only Poirot can communicate with him.

Mrs Arundell is a wealthy aunt and she has got nephews and nieces waiting for their inheritance .In her desirable mansion,on the bank of a lake where one of the nephews tries to break speed record ,strange things happen.

This is an absorbing episode in the POirot brilliant miniseries involving initials (which might or might not be those of the murderer) ,a dumb witness (Bob the dog) ,and an eerie side -which frequently shows in Christie's books : Emily Arundell's death is almost supernatural ("Her soul is flying away ") and there is a medium who talks to the Dead .
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If there was an award for animals, Bob should've got one!
TheLittleSongbird19 January 2010
While I haven't read the book in a long time, I will agree that it is not among Miss Christie's best. Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed it, but I just prefer other books that she wrote namely Death on the Nile and Murder of Roger Ackroyd. This adaptation, while taking some major liberties such as the omission of the suicide of the murderer and the murder of Dr Grainger, is still very absorbing with a huge amount to like. One was that the Lake District scenery was absolutely splendid, and the costumes was just as good. The music was stunning, and the acting was very good indeed. David Suchet is impeccable as Poirot, as you would expect(though I must find some other positive to describe Suchet's performance, perhaps outstanding would do), Hugh Fraser is entertaining as Hastings and Ann Morrish is effective as Emily Arrundel, her character's death was wonderfully eerie. Julia St. John is good as Bella, and Pauline Jameson and Muriel Pavlow do a great job as the batty Tripp sisters. But my favourite of all was the fox terrier Bob. Not only was he very cute but very well trained, and I must say if there was an award for animals Bob should've got one. All in all, very well done. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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Hooray for Bob!
Iain-21513 June 2008
Warning: Spoilers
A solid mid series entry in the long running Suchet Poirot adaptations of Christie's books. I tend to agree that this is not one of Christie's most fiendish puzzles; there's a fairly good chance of arriving at the solution long before Poirot does (unless of course you think it might be too obvious to be correct). The chief draw in this story is the character of Bob the fox terrier who is given ample screen time to make his mark - bravo Bob!

The supporting cast are all pretty good if not outstanding. It is great fun to have two actresses from the old Margaret Rutherford Marple films cast as the dotty Misses Tripp (Muriel Pavlow from 'Murder She Said' and Pauline Jameson from 'Murder Most Foul') and I liked Ann Morrish as the first victim. Her death scene is really very striking indeed. The Lakes settings are very attractive and the changes to the book are largely cosmetic and do very little harm. I enjoyed this one a great deal - slightly lower mark just because the plot is not one of the best.
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Eerie Christie story filmed amid fine trappings...
Neil Doyle27 August 2010
This is a delightful version of a rather unknown Christie story that deserves recognition as one of her most clever entries. I was partially successful at guessing the solution and once again it's a trick that Christie plays on her audience, this time involving a very subtle clue.

David Suchet and Hugh Fraser (Poirot and Captain Hastings) are vacationing in the English countryside near a wealthy woman's estate when the lady of the manor reveals that she suspects one of her heirs is willing to kill her in order to amass a fortune. From then on, it's up to Poirot to solve the case, based on what seems like very flimsy evidence involving inspiration from a dumb witness--a frisky fox-terrier named "Bob." The usual suspects keep their secrets well hidden until the final denouement which may come as somewhat of a surprise to most viewers.

A very eerie death scene involving a green mist that envelops the victim is stunningly staged for maximum effect. Well done mystery makes good use of a fine cast of players.
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Pleasing, if not quite top-grade, Poirot
gridoon201826 February 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Since another reviewer has already described the plot of this episode in great detail, I'll move straight to the comments. This is not, IMO, one of the strongest mysteries that Agatha Christie ever wrote: it depends largely on a single clue which is more guessable than usual for Christie (I won't say any more, to avoid spoilers). The chief pleasures of "Dumb Witness" can be found elsewhere: in the visually relaxing locations (this is one of the most beautifully shot episodes so far), the well-trained dog that plays a large part in the mystery and its solution, the memorable "Tripp Sisters", named by another character "Dotty" and "Batty", who believe they can communicate with the dead (both people and animals), and who find all this killing-and-investigation business actually rather thrilling! This episode also contains one of the most striking images of the series so far - the death of Aunt Emily as she is enveloped in a mysterious green mist. (***)
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Poirot and Hastings at the top of their game!
dan.adams11 June 2011
All episodes should be as entertaining as this one.Fortunately the majority are! Things are never as they seem-as usual.As Poirot might say,"when there is a cry of "Fire"-quite often it comes from the miscreant who lit the match".And so it is with murder,n'este ce pas? Look for the person who first claims dirty work! Also,look for the suspect(and aren't they all?)who conveys a piece of vital information to the eager ear of the murderer-who seems quite trustworthy at the time. Don't you love the Lakeland?I've been on the train that Poirot and Hastings rode-also the ferry.Great stuff that adds touches of realism to this delightful tale of crime in the most genteel of places.Thumbs up!
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Highly entertaining
Paularoc4 March 2013
Warning: Spoilers
This is one of my favorite episodes. An adorable fox terrier named Bob has a prominent role, he is the "dumb witness" and does a magnificent job. Poirot becomes quite enchanted with Bob and his interaction with the dog is very amusing. It also has two delightfully eccentric elderly women, the Tripp sisters, who are firm believers in spiritualism and are the shocked witnesses to the eerie murder of Emily Arundel. A wealthy woman, she had recently disinherited her heirs because she was convinced that someone was trying to murder her and alas, she was right. The episode is somewhat unusual one in that both of the victims are nice and good people. The facade that the murderer presents throughout the story is very well done indeed. The entire cast does a great job and it it was nice seeing Kate Buffery ( whose work I enjoyed in Wish Me Luck) as a grasping disinherited niece of Emily Arundel. The plot is solid, the production values outstanding, it has good humor and is very entertaining. The final scene of Poirot waving good-bye to Bob was quite touching.
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One of the most engaging Poirot movies
grantss21 May 2016
Hercule Poirot and Captain Hastings attend an event at a lake in the country. Hastings' friend Charles Arundell is trying to break the world water speed record. While they are there, the matriarch of the Arundell family, Emily Arundell, first suffers a nasty fall down a flight of stairs and then dies in weird circumstances. The Police deem the death natural but Poirot knows otherwise. He is convinced it is murder, but does not know who did it. He has a witness, Bob, but this witness isn't speaking. Bob is a dog.

Intriguing, as always, and one of the most engaging Poirot movies. The mystery itself is less complicated than most of the Poirot mysteries, which is a good thing as many of the mysteries are too complicated, making them seem far-fetched. With a bit of thinking you can figure out who the murderer is well before Poirot reveals it, but there are enough red herrings, twists and turns to keep you on your toes and doubt your solution.

The engagement comes from us seeing Poirot at his most sensitive, even vulnerable, as he interacts, and even cares for, the dog. The dog is wonderful and cute and almost steals the show.
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S6E04: Dumb Witness: The cast, dog, and usual trimmings cover up for a slightly weak core mystery
bob the moo22 November 2014
There are times in this series where the familiar delivery and performances can help carry a slightly weaker story, and Dumb Witness is one of those times. Although the first 30 or so minutes has plenty of intrigue and set-up, there comes a point where the film has to start delivering on this and in this case it does not do this as well as it should. An interesting set of characters, including some blustery men, some comedy old women, and a small white dog (the witness of the title) all set out the stall but when the murder comes it is a bit strange how it is handled – that the most obviously odd aspect of it should be mostly put to one side.

From this point we have some red herrings, and internal dramas which distract the viewer as they are required to do, but they do not really move things forward in a slow way where the viewer is behind Poirot, but at least heading the same direction as him. Here we get a holding pattern before the usual "library scene" which is enjoyable by virtue of how it is delivered, but really pulls a lot out of nowhere and the murderer cracks without really that compelling a case against them. Before this we do get some nice comedy, some solid material and the usual material we come to expect, but truth be told, it does not work as well as one is made to think it does.

The cast are a pretty big part of this because they are mostly good even if the material is not where you would want. Suchet is fun and I enjoyed his lightly funny interactions with Bob the dog; the downside of this fluffy character though is that Fraser seems to have less to do and it did feel like the usual Hastings material was pushed to one side to allow screen time for the dog. Fraser is still good – and it is a compliment that one feels his absence a little. The supporting cast is good enough whether they be the comedy sisters or the rather overplayed "proper" suspects. The film has a good look and as ever the costumes, cars, boats and locations are part of this show feeling as it does.

A solid enough film for what the series did, but in terms of the mystery it is perhaps a bit weak in content and delivery, flapping around a bit before pulling very little out of nowhere and calling it a day. The cast, the dog and all the usual trimmings do rather cover up for it though.
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Doesn't make sense
anbudmor5 August 2015
Warning: Spoilers
I really enjoy the Poirot series; and even this one wasn't bad. Unfortunately this episode contains, what I would describe as mistakes.

The murder's motive was money. The victim, after nearly being killed, changed her will, and thereby removed the murder's motive. Now the murderer had put the poison in the capsule before the will was changed, but surely it would have behooved the her to retrieve the capsule before they were consumed so as to have a chance of convincing the victim of changing her will, and not committing murder.

The 2nd victim was killed for no obvious reason at all. He discovered a fact which was mostly irrelevant, and which was already known, and yet was murdered. There was no way that the 2nd victim knowing about phosphorus could have lead to her being discovered; so why risk a break-in to commit the 2nd murder?

The bobby said the 2nd victim died of carbon monoxide poisoning. He didn't; he died from whatever type of gas they used in the heater in the room. It would only have been CO if the heater had been turned on and the exhaust gas was diverted to the room.
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Script Mysteries
tedg22 August 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Egad. Watching these Suchet versions of Poirot is a real adventure. Following the tradition set by the BBC, each episode has a different adapter and director. The idea is that it is supposed to keep things fresh. After all, the selling points are the characters and the good will of the Christie name. So everything else is up for negotiation.

This director decided that pink skies would be the main value. The screenwriter thought that just filling space until the surprise ending would suffice. There is no thinking here, no detecting, no mystery in the story. The only mystery in these episodes is solving the mystery of what the creative team intended.

In this case, the murderer is Douglas Watkinson, who murders Dame Agatha. He does so in a brutal way and then hides behind a gaggle of actors who have to pretend they are Victorian actors, with all the comic exaggerations.

Ted's Evaluation -- 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.This could be the worst of all Poirot adaptations.
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"Dumb" in the sense of "mute"
Robert J. Maxwell11 June 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Wealthy old Aunt Emily lives in a large house next to a lake in Windemere and is afraid that one of her relatives or friends is trying to kill her for her money. Poirot, visiting the lake with his friend Hastings, agrees. After all, Emily has just taken a tumble down a flight of stairs and barely survived, and it was a questionable accident. He advises her to change her will. She does, but she's poisoned and dies anyway.

The usual suspects are of the expected sort -- a speedboat racer, two dotty spiritualists, a bitter Greek doctor not licensed to practice in England. Then there is M'sieur Bob, the dog, a fox terrier that Poirot manages to mangle into "fox terror." I had to remind myself that the dog was not named Toto, what with the presence of Auntie Em and this definitely not being Kansas. Bob is a witness to the first murder attempt but of course he can't sit down and spill the beans to Poirot over a cup of tea and a plate of scones.

It's an enjoyable enough episode, a regular who-dunnit, but, my God, that is some shabby white dog. Bob looks raggedy and stuffed, with tiny black marbles for eyes. Some of the suspects are more engaging than others. The sinister sisters are thrilled when Poirot determines that they cannot account for their whereabouts on the night of the attempted murder. "Ohh -- you mean we're SUSPECTS? Do question us, Monsieur Poirot, just as if we were normal people." Not so thrilling is the way the remorseless criminal collapses in the face of some pretty flimsy evidence -- close to no evidence at all, really, just an emphatic accusation from the flawless Poirot.

In this episode, as elsewhere, the set dressing and properties are magnificent, especially considering that this is nothing more than a successful television series. I have no idea where they find these sixty-year-old cars, boats, and airplanes in working condition. And what vehicles they were. One is compelled to admire their clumsy architecture and gay but muted colors, their sheen and polish.
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