Poirot attends a party at the great actor Sir Charles Cartwright's Cornish mansion. A local reverend dies while drinking a cocktail, but no poison is found in his glass. Poirot and Cartwright decide to investigate when another victim is claimed in the same manner.
With his rumpled raincoat, ever-present cigar, bumbling demeanour and Sherlock Holmesian powers of deduction, disarmingly polite homicide detective Lieutenant Columbo took on some of the most cunning murderers in Los Angeles, most of whom made one fatal, irrevocable mistake: underestimating his investigative genius.
The show follows a crime, usually adapted from current headlines, from two separate vantage points. The first half of the show concentrates on the investigation of the crime by the police, the second half follows the prosecution of the crime in court.
Jesse L. Martin,
The inoffensive Reverend Babbington chokes to death at a cocktail party he is attending with his wife at the home of famous actor Sir Charles Cartwright. Some time later Sir Bartholomew Strange, an eminent doctor and friend of Cartwright, also dies of poisoning at a dinner party he is giving miles away. There appears to be no link between the two deaths but Poirot, assisted by Cartwright, offers to help Superintendent Crossfield in the investigation and discovers that a mysterious butler with a birthmark on his wrist was hired for the night and appeared to share a joke with the dead doctor. This man has now vanished and would seem to the killer. A third death, that of a sanatorium patient who has written to Poirot, would appear to link to the doctor's murder and there is certainly a secret which somebody will go to any lengths to conceal - but who would gain from the death of a harmless old vicar? Written by
don @ minifie-1
In train scene with Egg, Poirot and Sir Charles, the reflection in the window as they go through the tunnel is not a true reflection, i.e. the back of her head, but the actual scene laid over the window i.e. NOT a reflection at all. See more »
While I too am a long-time viewer of this ITV series and a much-avowed fan, I must disagree a bit with the previous writer who said this is not one of the series' best. "Three Act Tragedy" really is one of the best films of the long-running Poirot series. Agatha Christie's story, filmed once before for American TV as "Murder in Three Acts" (the original title of the first American publication of the book) in sunny Acapulco with an oddly contemporary setting, is a classic of misdirection with one of those twist endings the author is never properly celebrated for.
The story presented here is an absolute marvel of authenticity, with only a few changes made (Mr. Satterthwaite is deleted and the murderer's modus operandi is changed a bit here, negating the book's most evasive clue, "am worried about M"). Otherwise, "Three Act Tragedy" is pure perfection.
Directed with a combination of astonishing period elegance and artfully ironic noir camera work by Ashley Pearce (who directed the well-done "Mrs. McGinty's Dead) and scripted with great eloquence by Nick Dear (who also scripted "Mrs. McGinty's Dead" as well as two of the series' best later entries, "The Hollow" and "Cards on the Table"), it's hard not to be impressed with this film.
The slowness of the film's first half that the previous writer refers to is present in the book as well. This is due to the fact that the investigations, such as they are, are not manned by Poirot but rather by amateurs amateurs who get nowhere fast (or slow) and provide more red herrings than usual for a Christie story.
What makes the film of "Three Act Tragedy" exceptional, though, is a tremendous ensemble cast, expertly led by the magisterial Martin Shaw (Inspector George Gently, Adam Dalgliesh, Judge John Deed and a bunch of other British TV detectives), who gives an astonishing performance of the performance of a lifetime here. Many others, including Kimberley Nixon as Egg, Kate Ashfield as Miss Wills and Tom Wisdom as Oliver Manders, give wonderfully notable performances here as well.
Suffice it to say, David Suchet is exceptional as Poirot, offering a performance that is as impassioned and world-weary as his character is written in the book. "Three Act Tragedy" really does rank among the very best work for all concerned in this terrific series, which still has a little way to go before "Curtain."
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