Ariadne Oliver is asked to devise a murder hunt for a Devon fête, but her sense of foreboding summons Poirot to the scene. Her fears are realized when, during the fête, the girl playing her murder victim winds up well and truly murdered.
With summer in the air, wealthy squire Sir George Stubbs and his fragile, childlike wife Hattie plan a grand fête for their Devonshire neighbors to celebrate their recent acquisition of Nasse House. Fancy dress, fortune telling, and a coconut shy are all scheduled, as well as a murder hunt designed by mystery novelist Ariadne Oliver. But Mrs Oliver is convinced something is amiss, and asks Hercule Poirot to attend the festivities as a means to put her mind at rest. Poirot scrutinizes the eclectic lot, which includes officious politicos, a put-upon secretary, a rakish architect, warring holidaymakers, a garrulous ferryman, an urbane foreigner, and Nasse's former matriarch, now content to be a humble lodger. They certainly have secrets to hide, but are any of them likely murderers? Or victims? When Mrs Oliver's fears are realized, however, the events are far from how she imagined them to unfold. A murder occurs as anticipated, but bizarrely, the victim is Marlene Tucker, a local Girl ... Written by
"Dead Man's Folly" is the first of the five movies comprising the final season of "Poirot" that I decided to watch as soon as I unwrapped the DVD box, because it is also the only one of the five stories that I am already familiar with (from both reading the book and watching the more humorous 1986 TV version with Peter Ustinov). As I remembered (not every detail but) quite clearly "who-done-it", I cannot comment on how surprising a viewer coming "fresh" to this story will find the resolution. Probably quite a bit, unless they suspect something in the scene where George speaks to his wife from the window but we only see him and not her. It has become almost rudimentary to praise the production values and the acting of this series, but "Dead Man's Folly" has something extra special to offer: it is shot at and around one of Agatha Christie's actual houses in Devon, and the locations are simply marvelous. David Suchet has a great little moment when he "fixes" his mustache in front of a mirror, as a few notes of the "old" music score can be heard (hey, if you're more nostalgic for it - and I am - you can listen to it endlessly on the DVD menu screen!). Of the supporting cast, the two I liked the most are Zoë Wanamaker as Ariadne Oliver (her interaction with Poirot is highly enjoyable; he is less condescending to her than he can sometimes be to Hastings), and Emma Hamilton, who makes a witty Sally Legge (and is, in my opinion, more beautiful than her co-star Stephanie Leonidas). I would have liked, however, to see the "murder hunt" organized by Mrs. Oliver play a more active part in the plot. *** out of 4.
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