Agatha Christie's Poirot and Other Detective Fiction Discussion (Novels, Stories, Film, TV & Radio)

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  • Posts: 14,911
    One thing I remember from the Peter Ustinov adaptations is that Poirot often came off as a buffoon.
  • ShardlakeShardlake Leeds, West Yorkshire, England
    Posts: 4,043
    Ustinov was entertaining but I definitely prefer Finney to him in the definitely best big screen version.

    Suchet is just at another level and played the part to a tee, like Joan Hickson as Miss Marple, no one is likely to top their interpretations of the characters they are portraying.

    Yet to watch ABC Murders but as Then There Was None is the only decent BBC adaptation to date of recent times. Was not impressed with either Witness For The Prosecution or Ordeal By innocence so quite cautious about this and how Malkovich will tackle the Belgian sleuth.

    We are set to tackle this tomorrow.
  • Posts: 17,483
    Finished watching Ordeal By innocence this week, and it was a bit "meh". Quite the cast though.
  • Posts: 14,911
    Shardlake wrote: »
    Ustinov was entertaining but I definitely prefer Finney to him in the definitely best big screen version.

    Suchet is just at another level and played the part to a tee, like Joan Hickson as Miss Marple, no one is likely to top their interpretations of the characters they are portraying.

    Yet to watch ABC Murders but as Then There Was None is the only decent BBC adaptation to date of recent times. Was not impressed with either Witness For The Prosecution or Ordeal By innocence so quite cautious about this and how Malkovich will tackle the Belgian sleuth.

    We are set to tackle this tomorrow.

    The BBC version is... questionable to say the least.
  • DragonpolDragonpol https://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    Posts: 18,003
    Ludovico wrote: »
    Shardlake wrote: »
    Ustinov was entertaining but I definitely prefer Finney to him in the definitely best big screen version.

    Suchet is just at another level and played the part to a tee, like Joan Hickson as Miss Marple, no one is likely to top their interpretations of the characters they are portraying.

    Yet to watch ABC Murders but as Then There Was None is the only decent BBC adaptation to date of recent times. Was not impressed with either Witness For The Prosecution or Ordeal By innocence so quite cautious about this and how Malkovich will tackle the Belgian sleuth.

    We are set to tackle this tomorrow.

    The BBC version is... questionable to say the least.

    It seems like I've not missed very much then!
  • Posts: 14,911
    I think it's interesting to watch for Malkovich if nothing else, but the novel was my favourite Agatha Christie and the plot was borderline original and inventive for a whodunit. The BBC version takes away major plot points and motivations and add secondary plots that go nowhere.
  • DragonpolDragonpol https://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    Posts: 18,003
    Ludovico wrote: »
    I think it's interesting to watch for Malkovich if nothing else, but the novel was my favourite Agatha Christie and the plot was borderline original and inventive for a whodunit. The BBC version takes away major plot points and motivations and add secondary plots that go nowhere.

    Yes, I believe it's considered one of the first serial killer novels in fiction too. I'll still try to catch this adaptation later on.
  • Posts: 14,911
    Dragonpol wrote: »
    Ludovico wrote: »
    I think it's interesting to watch for Malkovich if nothing else, but the novel was my favourite Agatha Christie and the plot was borderline original and inventive for a whodunit. The BBC version takes away major plot points and motivations and add secondary plots that go nowhere.

    Yes, I believe it's considered one of the first serial killer novels in fiction too. I'll still try to catch this adaptation later on.

    The original novel is actually an anti serial killer novel, it's a, whodunit disguised as a serial killer novel. The BBC adaptation goes out of its way to make it closer to a straight serial killer story.
  • ThunderpussyThunderpussy My Secret Lair
    edited December 2018 Posts: 13,384
    I'm no expert on Agatha Christie but have read all the Miss Marple stories, and love watching Poirot, on TV and film.
    What I disliked about this bbc version is that all the personal habits , the walk etc are missing.Turning his character into a bland detective, unless told you wouldn't have know which detective you were watching. As if you were to remake Columbo, but without the crumpled rain coat, the unbrushed hair and the " just one more thing " question".
    There was also a few very bad wardrobe malfunctions, Poirot's collar and tie at the railway station looked terrible, as if it didn't fit.
    I recently watched both versions of Murder on the orient express, and now actually prefer the new one.
  • Posts: 14,911
    There were many wrong things with the new ABC Murders adaptation. Poirot as a whole new background that makes little sense and creates more questions than it answers. I can understand why they made him worn out and more depressed, but then given his new origins (in complete contradiction with the novels by the way, where he was a famous police officer in Belgium before even moving to England), there's no room for the more Poirot of old, who was sometimes mischievous. Gone also are his pride and vanity and his compulsive attention to details and order.
  • Posts: 2,904
    The only Christie novel I've read is The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. Effectively told, but the prose was colorless and the twist was the sort of contrived surprise I hate in mystery novels. I also have a grudge against Dame Agatha for publicly speaking ill of Ian Fleming (I'll try and find the exact quote when I get home).
  • Posts: 14,911
    Revelator wrote: »
    The only Christie novel I've read is The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. Effectively told, but the prose was colorless and the twist was the sort of contrived surprise I hate in mystery novels. I also have a grudge against Dame Agatha for publicly speaking ill of Ian Fleming (I'll try and find the exact quote when I get home).

    Strange if she did as Fleming wrote nice things about her in OHMSS.

    The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is overrated and based on a cheat. Christie was not a very good writer : she basically found a formula that paid off. Otherwise her stories are basically gossip with added poison, or the occasional dagger, or revolver.
  • DragonpolDragonpol https://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    edited December 2018 Posts: 18,003
    Ludovico wrote: »
    Revelator wrote: »
    The only Christie novel I've read is The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. Effectively told, but the prose was colorless and the twist was the sort of contrived surprise I hate in mystery novels. I also have a grudge against Dame Agatha for publicly speaking ill of Ian Fleming (I'll try and find the exact quote when I get home).

    Strange if she did as Fleming wrote nice things about her in OHMSS.

    The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is overrated and based on a cheat. Christie was not a very good writer : she basically found a formula that paid off. Otherwise her stories are basically gossip with added poison, or the occasional dagger, or revolver.

    Something I've found from reading just a few of her Poirot novels (Murder on the Orient Express and Death in the Clouds) is that she was a much less descriptive writer than Ian Fleming was and not as detailed in delineating characters as he was. Fleming is, to my mind, a much better writer.

    Instead, plot is seemingly everything in these sorts of stories. You could even say that characterisation is sacrificed on the altar of plot. I suppose that's what Golden Age crime novels were about, though? I've not really read enough of her work, but that is what strikes me most anyhow, as a first impression.

    I'd also be very interested to hear what Christie said about Ian Fleming, @Revelator!
  • ThunderpussyThunderpussy My Secret Lair
    Posts: 13,384
    I also didn't like how even with The ABC murders, the BBC managed to get their anti-Brexit propaganda in.
  • DragonpolDragonpol https://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    Posts: 18,003
    I also didn't like how even with The ABC murders, the BBC managed to get their anti-Brexit propaganda in.

    Really?! Do tell!

    I take it it has something to do with a certain Belgian in Britain? ;)
  • Posts: 14,911
    Dragonpol wrote: »
    Ludovico wrote: »
    Revelator wrote: »
    The only Christie novel I've read is The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. Effectively told, but the prose was colorless and the twist was the sort of contrived surprise I hate in mystery novels. I also have a grudge against Dame Agatha for publicly speaking ill of Ian Fleming (I'll try and find the exact quote when I get home).

    Strange if she did as Fleming wrote nice things about her in OHMSS.

    The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is overrated and based on a cheat. Christie was not a very good writer : she basically found a formula that paid off. Otherwise her stories are basically gossip with added poison, or the occasional dagger, or revolver.

    Something I've found from reading just a few of her Poirot novels (Murder on the Orient Express and Death in the Clouds) is that she was a much less descriptive writer than Ian Fleming was and not as detailed in delineating characters as he was. Fleming is, to my mind, a much better writer.

    Instead, plot is seemingly everything in these sorts of stories. You could even say that characterisation is sacrificed on the altar of plot. I suppose that's what Golden Age crime novels were about, though? I've not really read enough of her work, but that is what strikes me most anyhow, as a first impression.

    I'd also be very interested to hear what Christie said about Ian Fleming, @Revelator!

    Christie's writing was very journalistic and her characters were at best stereotypes. Indeed the plot, or rather the resolution, matters more than characters or even plausibility. Her murderers are basically criminal amateurs, yet when they kill they use the most convoluted plans. So many things could go wrong, yet they succeed unopposed until Poirot or Miss Marple or another steps in. That said, I want to be fair: this was pretty much the case of the whodunits at the time, and from the ones I read Agatha Christie is miles ahead them when it comes to characters and even plausibility. At least her detective is a real person, not a diet, bastardised, poor man's Sherlock Holmes. Poirot has a personality that stands on its own.
  • ThunderpussyThunderpussy My Secret Lair
    Posts: 13,384
    They made much of the Oswald Mosley movement, with foreigners out posters etc .In an attempted to show Britain today. As one critic wrote, if you want to do a drama about 2018 Britain, why set it in 1933 ?
  • Posts: 14,911
    They made much of the Oswald Mosley movement, with foreigners out posters etc .In an attempted to show Britain today. As one critic wrote, if you want to do a drama about 2018 Britain, why set it in 1933 ?

    I didn't mind that too much because in the novel Poirot is targeted/challenged by ABC partially because the murderer is an Anglo centrist, maybe even jingoistic, who thinks little of foreigner. The issue is that it never builts up to anything. In the end this new ABC is actually rather friendly and does not show any sign of racism.

    Poirot was created at a time when it was patriotic to have Belgians as the good guys. But Christie herself, although francophone, was sometimes racist and definitely antisemite. I find it ironic that the actor who became for many the definitive Hercule Poirot is half Jewish.
  • ThunderpussyThunderpussy My Secret Lair
    Posts: 13,384
    I much preferred " and then there were none " ( adapted by the same writer ).
  • DragonpolDragonpol https://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    edited December 2018 Posts: 18,003
    Ludovico wrote: »
    Dragonpol wrote: »
    Ludovico wrote: »
    Revelator wrote: »
    The only Christie novel I've read is The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. Effectively told, but the prose was colorless and the twist was the sort of contrived surprise I hate in mystery novels. I also have a grudge against Dame Agatha for publicly speaking ill of Ian Fleming (I'll try and find the exact quote when I get home).

    Strange if she did as Fleming wrote nice things about her in OHMSS.

    The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is overrated and based on a cheat. Christie was not a very good writer : she basically found a formula that paid off. Otherwise her stories are basically gossip with added poison, or the occasional dagger, or revolver.

    Something I've found from reading just a few of her Poirot novels (Murder on the Orient Express and Death in the Clouds) is that she was a much less descriptive writer than Ian Fleming was and not as detailed in delineating characters as he was. Fleming is, to my mind, a much better writer.

    Instead, plot is seemingly everything in these sorts of stories. You could even say that characterisation is sacrificed on the altar of plot. I suppose that's what Golden Age crime novels were about, though? I've not really read enough of her work, but that is what strikes me most anyhow, as a first impression.

    I'd also be very interested to hear what Christie said about Ian Fleming, @Revelator!

    Christie's writing was very journalistic and her characters were at best stereotypes. Indeed the plot, or rather the resolution, matters more than characters or even plausibility. Her murderers are basically criminal amateurs, yet when they kill they use the most convoluted plans. So many things could go wrong, yet they succeed unopposed until Poirot or Miss Marple or another steps in. That said, I want to be fair: this was pretty much the case of the whodunits at the time, and from the ones I read Agatha Christie is miles ahead them when it comes to characters and even plausibility. At least her detective is a real person, not a diet, bastardised, poor man's Sherlock Holmes. Poirot has a personality that stands on its own.

    Yes, well, I didn't mean to imply she wasn't successful. She evidently was one of the very best writers of the Golden Age detective novel and Poirot is a significant and enduring character. I enjoyed both Poirot novels I read immensely and would certainly like to read more of them in the future. That is why I created this thread, so that we could all learn from each other.
  • edited December 2018 Posts: 2,904
    I tracked down the Christie quote--ironically it's from a Sunday Times Atticus column! By then Nicholas Tomalin was in charge of Atticus, and in the Nov. 10, 1963 edition there's a mini-profile of Christie titled "Baked Agatha" that includes the following passage:
    She reads three of four books a week and is particularly fond of Elizabeth Bowen and Muriel Spark. She doesn't care much for Ian Fleming. "I think the plots are rather poor."

    Perhaps I should give Dame Agatha some slack, since Fleming certainly wasn't great at plotting and that would have been a major failing to someone like Christie, for whom "plot is seemingly everything," as Dragonpol remarks. Interestingly, Elizabeth Bowen was a Fleming fan and positively reviewed a couple Bond novels for Tatler.
  • Posts: 14,911
    What she didn’t understand is that you don’t read Ian Fleming for the quality of his plots.

    @Dragonpol I was merely commenting on her work. I have ambivalent feelings about it: I have fond memories of reading her, but ceased to be a fan when I read other authors, big and small. But ATTWN is the very first novel I read back to back.
  • DragonpolDragonpol https://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    edited January 2019 Posts: 18,003
    Ludovico wrote: »
    What she didn’t understand is that you don’t read Ian Fleming for the quality of his plots.

    @Dragonpol I was merely commenting on her work. I have ambivalent feelings about it: I have fond memories of reading her, but ceased to be a fan when I read other authors, big and small. But ATTWN is the very first novel I read back to back.

    Yes, certainly, I understand. I just didn't want it to come across as too harsh on my part! I enjoy her work too, and need to read more of it.
  • Posts: 14,911
    Thinking about it, it's not like Christine's plots were that great. It's the mechanics that are impressive at first sight, but they generally don't stand scrutiny. Her best novels are the ones with the best characters and atmosphere, which makes you forget the shoddy aspects of the plot. That's why ATTWN is often considered her best, although the plot does not withstand scrutiny.
  • Posts: 2,904
    Here's a brief comment from Fleming on Christie, taken from his complete Sunday Times interview with Simenon (only excerpts are online):

    "But of course we've still got in England the old-fashioned detective story--the Agatha Christie type of story, with the suspects and the poisoning and all the rest of it. I personally can't read them, because I'm not interested enough in who did it. But lots of people, the Oxford don and the Cambridge don, go on writing this sort of book. Up to a point in America too--Rex Stout and Erle Stanley Gardner. They're all exactly the same, the Erle Stanley Gardner ones. I can't read them. But Stout I always read because his Nero Wolfe is such a splendid monster."
  • Posts: 14,911
    Nero Wolf is indeed great. I agree with Simenon.
  • DragonpolDragonpol https://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    edited January 2019 Posts: 18,003
    David Suchet on the whole Belgian and French Poirot accent aspect. He certainly seems to put a lot of effort into getting the character just right:

  • Posts: 14,911
    Just watched it. Wow I'm really impressed. David Suchet is truly a perfectionist.

    Albert Finney's death made me think of him playing the role. Physically he may have been the closest to the source material. I really like how he seemlessly gave Poirot his mannerisms while keeping his dignity. Not sure which one I prefer between Suchet and Finney.

    Peter Ustinov's Poirot, I regret to say (as I love the actor), was a fat buffoon.
  • DragonpolDragonpol https://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    edited February 2019 Posts: 18,003
    Ludovico wrote: »
    Just watched it. Wow I'm really impressed. David Suchet is truly a perfectionist.

    Albert Finney's death made me think of him playing the role. Physically he may have been the closest to the source material. I really like how he seemlessly gave Poirot his mannerisms while keeping his dignity. Not sure which one I prefer between Suchet and Finney.

    Peter Ustinov's Poirot, I regret to say (as I love the actor), was a fat buffoon.

    Yes, I agree that Suchet and Finney were the best on-screen Poirots. I've been watching a few episodes of Suchet's Poirot on DVD and he is just how the books describe him.

    I'd like to see Finney's turn as Poirot again as I've only seen that film once back in 2004, having read the source novel back in 1999.

    Although I've not seen all of his appearances as Poirot I tend to agree with you on Ustinov, @Ludovico.
  • Posts: 5,903
    Just learned, while on TVTropes, that on ITV's adaptation of A Caribbean Mystery, Miss Marple meets Ian Fleming (played by Jeremy Crutchley) and... James Bond (Played by... Charlie Higson). BTW, it's James Bond the ornithologist, not James Bond the secret agent.
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