Hastings is invited by his friend Charles Arundell to be at hand when he tries to break a water speed record on a Berkshire country lake, but his boat's engine fails him. At a subsequent reception at the estate of Charles' well-to-do aunt, Poirot and the other guests witness her refusal to continue to underwrite Charles' expensive hobby, and he threatens her. Later, when she is almost killed in a freak accident involving her pet fox terrier Bob, she confides to Poirot that she suspects a family member of trying to kill her to gain part of her estate. The detective advises her to disinherit her grasping relatives and name a friend as beneficiary. Despite this precaution, she dies abruptly under questionable circumstances, but the local authorities refuse to authorize an autopsy. Suspecting foul play, Poirot looks to his wits as well as the Arundell dog, who remains a silent witness to murder.Written by
G. Taverney (DUKE1029@AOL.COM)
At the end, when Charles Arundel states that he's leaving water speed records to "Campbell and his cronies," he's referring to Malcolm Campbell (1885-1948), who set several land and water speed records. In his craft "Blue Bird K4" his highest water speed record was over 141 MPH, a mark reached in 1939. See more »
Although set in the 1920s, the train dates from the 1950s. See more »
S6E04: Dumb Witness: The cast, dog, and usual trimmings cover up for a slightly weak core mystery
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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