Poirot despairs at the lack of crime - and work - concluding that he, Hercule Poirot, has scared off the criminal classes. His mood brightens when Lady Millicent Castle-Vaughn - the veiled Lady of the title - asks him to recover from her blackmailer some indiscreet letters written in her youth. Unable to convince the man to reduce the amount asked for, Poirot decides to take matters into his own hands and steal them. As Poirot and Hastings learn however, not all is as it seems, starting with Lady Millicent. Written by
This is one of those episodes where the extra scenes written for television are genius. By far the best of them is a scene only alluded to in the original story. Poirot and Hastings meet with a lady who says that a blackmailer has gotten hold of an indiscreet letter that she wrote to a young man years ago, and is threatening to show it to her new fiancé. Poirot finds out that that the blackmailer is going to be out of town, so he finds his address and plans to break into his house to search for the letter. In preparation for the break in, he goes to the house during the day and talks with the housekeeper. Claiming to be a locksmith, he is permitted to "refit" one of the windows with a special burglar-proof lock. Carole Hayman does an excellent job as the suspicious housekeeper; when she asks Poirot about his accent, Poirot throws out a hint: "Madame, what is the country that is full of mountains and is divided into cantons?" The housekeeper considers for a moment and then says skeptically, "You're never Chinese?" Classic.
That night, Poirot and Hastings take advantage of the modified window to break into the house. They find the letter, but just as they are leaving, they discover that the housekeeper has heard movement and gone to fetch a policeman (Hayman has another great scene here accusing Poirot of burglary.) Hastings gets away but Poirot is arrested and put in jail overnight. Hastings calls Japp, who shows up at the jail in the morning to vouch for his friend. One of the greatest lines of the episode: Japp and a constable are peering at Poirot through a small opening of the cell door. The constable asks Japp what the prisoner's name is. Japp says dryly, "No one knows his real name, but everyone calls him Mad Dog." Genius.
Towards the end, there's a scene where Poirot has confronted the criminals with the crime and they're trying to make a getaway. Most of these escape scenes lack interest for me, because they're just a way of padding the original materials and making it a bit more exciting for the viewer, but this scene is rather above average, because it takes place at what appears to be the British Museum. The criminals find a room with a lot of stuffed animals covered in dropcloths, and take refuge under one of them. The sight of Japp pulling a series of cloths like a magician, only to meet the glassy eyed stare of a giraffe or an orangutan, is very well done. Overall, a clever and funny episode.
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