Agatha Christie’s Marple – Endless Night (2013)

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Newlyweds Mike and Ellie decide to build their dream home at a beauty spot called Gypsy’s Acre, ignoring the warnings of elusive romany Mrs Lee about an ancient curse supposedly cast upon the land. The couple settle into their new life, but the mysterious woman makes her presence felt, subjecting them to a campaign of hatred in an attempt to force them out. Tragedy soon strikes, but as luck would have it Miss Marple is staying nearby with her recently widowed old friend Mrs Phillpot. However, if the spinster sleuth is to solve the puzzle, she must put her own life in grave danger.

Murder mystery, starring Julia McKenzie, Tom Hughes, Joanna Vanderham, Aneurin Barnard, Birgitte Hjort Sorensen, Wendy Craig, Glynis Barber, Hugh Dennis, Tamzin Outhwaite, William Hope and Janet Henfrey.

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I reread Agatha Christie’s novel last year and I realised I really liked its darkness and melodrama. Published in 1967, it was not a Poirot nor a Marple story, it was told from Michael Rogers’ point of view , and like in the Murder of Roger Ackroy, with a little twist in the end. It was fascinating to see how Rogers became obsessed with death and murder till madness.

This Marple version is quite faithful to Christie, all the actors were great but I prefer the poetic and dark atmosphere of the novel.

Agatha Christie’s Marple : The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side (2010 ITV)

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A troubled Hollywood actress and her director husband move to St. Mary Mead, but their arrival becomes clouded in tragedy when an ardent fan is fatally poisoned during a garden party.

Mystery drama, starring Julia McKenzie, Lindsay Duncan, Joanna Lumley, Nigel Harman, Victoria Smurfit, Hugh Bonneville and Samuel Barnett.

I have to confess I don’t recall at all the 1992 BBC version with Joan Hickson. All I had in memory is the splendid 1980 movie version “The Mirror Crack’d” with Angela Lansbury, Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, Tony Curtis, Kim Novak, Geraldine Chaplin and Edward Fox.

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Lindsay Duncan is absolutely perfect in the part of Marina Gregg and I rather prefer Julia McKenzie over Geraldine McEwan as Miss Marple. I think that it is too bad that ITV producers chose McEwan in the first place, and that they decided to adapt Agatha Christie’s other works such as “By The Pricking of My Thumbs” which is a Tommy and Tuppence Beresford’s story among others. Agatha Christie wrote twelve novels and nineteen short stories with Miss Marple, there was quite enough material in the first place to make a great series faithful to Christie.

As a conclusion, I’ll say that my favourite is the glamorous version by Bond’s director, Guy Hamilton. He directed as well a great version of  “Evil Under the Sun” with Peter Ustinov in 1982.

Agatha Christie’s Poirot : Curtain – Poirot’s final case (2013)

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Crippled with arthritis, Poirot is now using a wheelchair and has a life-threatening heart condition, but remains as sharp as ever. Calling on old friend Captain Hastings for assistance, he returns to Styles, where the pair first met 30 years earlier on a murder investigation. The detective is convinced the country house is once again harbouring a killer, and as guests fall victim to a mysterious attacker, he must summon the last of his strength to battle his ultimate nemesis.

Detective drama, starring David Suchet, Hugh Fraser, Anne Reid, Philip Glenister, Helen Baxendale, Matthew McNulty, Anna Madeley and Shaun Dingwall.

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In the documentary ‘Being Poirot’, David Suchet embarks on a personal journey to explore the appeal of Agatha Christie’s enduring character, having played the role on screen since 1989, and prepares for his final days’ filming on set. The actor also travels to Belgium in search of the detective’s roots and visits the author’s former summer retreat in Devon, where he first met her family 25 years ago after being cast in the series.

First of all, the location where that episode was filmed is quite different from the one seen in the Mysterious Affair at Styles that was adapted more than twenty years ago. In 1991, we could see a splendid big cottage and in this last episode, a place that looked like more a small castle; it’s true that we are dealing with a lot more characters in this story than in the first Poirot’s case, so they needed more space.

I have to say that David Suchet was just perfect – well, he is always perfect as Hercule Poirot – but he was particularly in that last episode. Kevin Elyot’s adaptation is faithful to Agatha Christie’s novel and the cast is great.

“I don’t see how I can do a story that isn’t based on something written by Agatha Christie,” said David Suchet in an interview. As a fan of her books for more than thirty years, I have no intention to read Sophie Hannah’s novel next year. Agatha Christie wrote Curtain in the forties with the wish that it was published after her death, because she didn’t want somebody else using her characters in another story. It was her last will. And I, as a reader, will be faithful to it.

I didn’t cry when I saw that last episode, because as we can reread books with pleasure, we can watch David Suchet as Poirot again and again, thanks to DVDs or VOD. And I’m looking forward to reading David Suchet’s book ‘Poirot and me’ :

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As a last word, I’ll just say “Chapeau bas, Monsieur Suchet!” ( Hats off to you, Mr Suchet ! )

Agatha Christie’s Poirot : The Labours of Hercules (2013)

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The sleuth falls victim to depression after failing to prevent the murder of a society girl by notorious art thief Marrascaud. His confidence shattered, Poirot eventually returns to work when a lonely chauffeur begs him to find his missing soulmate, the maid of a famous Russian dancer. The investigation takes him to the Swiss Alps, where, against all odds, he stumbles upon a hotel thought to be Marrascaud’s hideout – leading to a very personal showdown.

Detective drama, starring David Suchet, Simon Callow, Orla Brady and Rupert Evans.

I honestly do not remember Agatha Christie’s book that is presented in the credits as a novel, it is actually a short story collection published in 1947. I’ll have to read it again.

It was a pleasure to see the Mistresses’s star Sarah Parish as Flossie Monro in the Big Four two weeks ago, and in this episode I had the pleasure to see another one, Orla Brady as the nearest that Hercule Poirot comes to a love interest, the Countess Rossakoff, a character that we meet as well in the Double Clue (short story, 1923) then in the Big Four (novel, 1927), and her name is mentioned in One, Two, Buckle my Shoe (novel, 1940).

I have to say that I really liked that adaptation by Guy Andrews as a whole story.

Agatha Christie’s Poirot : Dead Man’s Folly (2013)

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The sleuth is reunited with old friend Ariadne Oliver, who has been commissioned to stage a game of murder hunt at a summer fete in the grounds of Nasse House, the recently purchased home of wealthy financier Sir George Stubbs. However, the novelist’s instincts tell her she’s getting involved in something much darker – and she’s proved right when the girl volunteering to play the part of the victim really does turn out to be dead.

Mystery, starring David Suchet, with Zoe Wanamaker, Sean Pertwee, Martin Jarvis, Sam Kelly, Sinead Cusack, Rosalind Ayres and Tom Ellis.

In 1954, Agatha Christie wrote the novella “The Greenshore Folly” with the intention of donating the proceeds to a fund set up to buy stained glass windows for her local church at Churston Ferrers, and she filled the story with references to local places, including her own home of Greenway. But having completed it, she decided instead to expand the story into a full-length novel, Dead Man’s Folly, which was published two years later, and donated a Miss Marple story (Greenshaw’s Folly) to the church fund instead.

This story is a classic Hercule Poirot with the great Ariadne Oliver.

Agatha Christie’s Poirot : The Big Four (2013)

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The sleuth is reunited with sidekick Captain Hastings, secretary Miss Lemon and Inspector Japp in a case that plunges him into the world of global espionage as the Second World War looms. The public are in panic after the shocking death of Russian grandmaster Ivan Savaranoff during a game of chess. Poirot must try to determine the good guys from the bad, as a complex plot by a gang of dangerous dissidents sees a host of international figures used like pawns.

Mystery, starring David Suchet, Hugh Fraser, Pauline Moran and Philip Jaskson.

I’ve read Agatha Christie’s novel so many years ago that I didn’t recall the storyline before watching this adaptation written by Mark Gatiss and Ian Hallard. It’s her fourth novel with Hercule Poirot out of  thirty three and this plot is not, in my opinion, one of her best. I’ll have to reread it to be able to compare with this episode. Anyway, I can’t believe that there will be only three more stories to watch with David Suchet as Poirot!

The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie (1920)

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“This novel was originally written as the result of a bet, that the author, who had previously never written a book, could not compose a detective novel in which the reader would not be able to “spot” the murderer, although having access to the same clues as the detective. The author has certainly won her bet, and in addition to a most ingenious plot of the best detective type she has introduced a new type of detective in the shape of a Belgian.” John Lane

When I began to reread Agatha Christie’s first novel ( I read it like 20 years ago) I was amazed to see that she made all the characteristics of Poirot that we know from her very first story; she never changed him a bit, except in the Curtain in which he seems older and tired. It was a pure pleasure.

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I had the surprise to discover that in the 1990 TV version with David Suchet the victim is said to be the mother of the suspect instead of being the stepmother. Quite shocking to imagine a son killing his own mother just for money; I don’t think that Christie would have thought of a suspicion of matricide for her first case. Anyhow, I enjoyed Suchet who is the perfect Poirot of all time.