Still mourning the untimely death of his wife, Bella, Hastings is summoned to Styles Court in Styles St. Mary by his old friend Poirot. It is the country manor where, thirty years previously, he and Poirot had first met in England and where they had also solved their first murder mystery together. Now, Styles has changed hands and is being run as a modest post-war guest house, and it is here that Hastings makes a gut-wrenching discovery: Poirot's health has taken a turn for the worse. The Belgian detective is now old, gaunt, arthritic, and confined to a wheelchair as he battles a weak heart. But his little gray cells are as active as ever, which is why Poirot has called him to Styles in the first place - a murderer is in their midst, and may be ready to strike again. He asks Hastings to be his eyes and ears about the place, for Poirot does not know who is likely to be the killer's next victim. Being as observant and vigilant as possible, Hastings takes stock of his fellow company, ... Written by
Alice Orr-Ewing, who plays Arthur Hastings' daughter Judith, was born in 1989, the same year that the series was first broadcast, and all the main characters, including her father, were first introduced. See more »
It was quite immaterial. I take the sleeping tablets and have acquired a certain tolerance. The dose that would send Norton to sleep would have little effect on me. With the greatest of difficulty, I put him in my wheelchair, then, when the coast was clear, I wheeled him to his room. You will not have realized, Hastings, that recently I have taken to wearing a false moustache. Even George does not know that.
[flashback, showing Poirot in Norton's room, removing his false moustache]
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On the Basis of this Piece, It's About Time the Series Came to an End
I really don't like to admit this, but CURTAIN has to be one of the weakest entries in the entire Poirot canon. Hettie Macdonald's production sets up an intriguing situation, but the resolution is weak in the extreme, with the surprise plot-twist involving Poirot himself seeming particularly implausible. I realize that this is probably in the source-text, and that screenwriter Kevin Elyot was trying to make the best of a weakly plotted book, but for me the episode simply did not work in televisual terms. On the other hand there were incidental pleasures; it was nice to see Hugh Fraser returning as Hastings, the eternal innocent unable to see what was distinctly in front of him, supported by a clutch of memorable cameos from Aidan McArdle, Helen Baxendale and Anne Reid as a particularly sour-faced old woman. The lighting was appropriately shadowy, making every character in the episode seem suspicious. Towering above everything was David Suchet's masterly performance as Poirot - as the detective taking his last bow on the stage, he was both clear-eyed yet moving as he realized that he no longer possessed the physical capacities to solve any more cases. He has been easily one of the best - if not the best - Christie characterization in any media adaptation of her work.
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