Agatha Christie's Poirot and other Detective Fiction Thread [Novels/Stories/Radio, TV + Film]

DragonpolDragonpol Schloss Drache ~ Writer/Director @ The Bondologist Blog
edited August 2018 in General Discussion Posts: 12,478
As we have a thread on Columbo, I thought it was high time that we also had a thread on one of the most enduring detectives in fiction, the famous Belgian sleuth, Hercule Poirot, created by The Queen of Crime, Dame Agatha Christie. It seems there is no thread on this community specifically on Poirot, so this lacuna must be filled. :)

This then is the thread in which to discuss all of the adventures and cases of Poirot across all mediums; the novels, the play, the short stories and the radio, TV and film adaptations featuring various actors in the lead role.

EDIT: I've now expanded the thread title to include other detective characters created by Agatha Christie such as Miss Marple or even Mr Harley Quin.
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Comments

  • DragonpolDragonpol Schloss Drache ~ Writer/Director @ The Bondologist Blog
    Posts: 12,478
    The theme music to the long-running (1989-2013) Agatha Christie's Poirot TV series is really great:



    So, are there any Poirot/Agatha Christie fans out there at all? :)
  • Posts: 11,865
    I was considering starting one with Agatha Christie and James Bond... Because she actually invented a character named... James Bond. In The Rajah's Emerald.
  • Fire_and_Ice_ReturnsFire_and_Ice_Returns The Phantom Planet
    edited August 2018 Posts: 7,077
    Great idea for a thread, I have just made my way through the Peter Ustinov movies finishing a few days ago with Dead Man's Folly. His take is let's say a light hearted version of the Belgium detective.

    folly-2.jpg

    I have watched all the Suchet episodes and any other adaption I have come across. I am looking forward to John Malkovich in The Abc Murders.

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/latestnews/2018/abc-murders-john-malkovich

    624

    My mother and father were readers of Christie and Doyle amongst other authors in the genre, so I had access to all the books growing up.
  • Posts: 11,865
    I used to be a big fan of Agatha Christie as a child. Then when I got older, say 16-17 I started finding her rather journalistic and mundane. Whodunits are rather silly, if one thinks about it. But fairly recently I read other whodunits from the so called golden age of detective fiction and I understand better why she stands out. Others were really dire. At least she could sometimes write true characters and Hercule Poirot had personality (although he was far more French than Belgium). And some of her books are genuinely scary. And Then There Were None is basically an ancestor of the slasher.
  • Fire_and_Ice_ReturnsFire_and_Ice_Returns The Phantom Planet
    edited August 2018 Posts: 7,077
    latest?cb=20130623130633
    The 1945 version of And then there were none is one of my favourite films it's very atmospheric, agreed the story is a pre cursor to the Slasher movies.

    I tend to be gravitated to the clever Christie story's, some of the surrounding elements to say Poirot for example needs a suspension of disbelief, if I recall correctly Poirot would have been 125 years old in Curtain.
  • Posts: 11,865
    I read her autobiography and that is something she always regretted: to have Poirot that old to start with. Her favourite detective was Gaston Leroux's Rouletabille.

    I'm surprised nobody mentioned yet the many Bond connections.
  • Posts: 3,440

    I tend to be gravitated to the clever Christie story's, some of the surrounding elements to say Poirot for example needs a suspension of disbelief, if I recall correctly Poirot would have been 125 years old in Curtain.

    Not if we consider that the story takes place immediately after WW II, and not at the time of publication (1975, according to Wikipedia).

  • Posts: 11,865
    She wrote it during WWII I think. Given that he's already retired from the police in 1917, Poirot is very old after WWII and way beyond 100 in the stories set in the 60s and 70s.

    Anybody else thinks Poirot is far more French than Belgium?
  • Posts: 3,440
    Ludovico wrote: »
    She wrote it during WWII I think. Given that he's already retired from the police in 1917, Poirot is very old after WWII and way beyond 100 in the stories set in the 60s and 70s.

    Anybody else thinks Poirot is far more French than Belgium?

    Except that these stories are not set in the 60s and 70s, that's all. Yes, it takes a bit of retconning, but my best guess would be that Dame Agatha wanted to keep her stories current, and put in topical references from the time she wrote them. But, from a "Watsonian" viewpoint, those stories happened in the 20s and 30s.

    And no, I don't think that poirot is more french than belgian. He simply comes from the frenhc-speaking part of Belgium, that's all.

    As for my ranking of various Poirots I've seen, here it is :

    1) David Suchet. Nobody does it better

    2) Albert Finney. Close to what Dame Agatha wrote.

    3) Peter Ustinov. Not close at all, but entertaining nonetheless.

    4) Tony randall. He did for Poirot what Dame Margaret Rutherford did for Miss Marple, and that's not a compliment. Still, Anita Ekberg isn't bad looking.

    BTW, speaking of Peter Ustinov (and David Niven) ever heard about Operation : Copperhead ?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Copperhead

    It has even been the subject of a graphic novel in France :

    9782205074840-couv.jpg
  • Posts: 11,865
    Many of the novels are in fact set at the time they were written.

    Christie makes no mention of any particular traits of Belgium culture when it comes to her detective. She was far more familiar with French one and only made Poirot coming from Belgium because of the Belgium refugees in the war.
  • Posts: 3,440
    And also because there were too many french detectives in british crime fiction already.
  • edited August 2018 Posts: 8,060
    Gerard wrote: »
    4) Tony randall. He did for Poirot what Dame Margaret Rutherford did for Miss Marple, and that's not a compliment. Still, Anita Ekberg isn't bad looking.

    Is the Tony Randall film a movie you would recommend? Read a little bit about it not long ago.
  • DragonpolDragonpol Schloss Drache ~ Writer/Director @ The Bondologist Blog
    edited August 2018 Posts: 12,478
    Gerard wrote: »
    4) Tony randall. He did for Poirot what Dame Margaret Rutherford did for Miss Marple, and that's not a compliment. Still, Anita Ekberg isn't bad looking.

    Is the Tony Randall film a movie you would recommend? Read a little bit about it not long ago.

    That's the sort of spoof one (The Alphabet Murders, based on The ABC Murders novel) as far as I know, so probably not the best place to look for fidelity to Agatha Christie. I saw a bit of it once (it was B/W I seem to recall) and all I can remember was Poirot saying near the start of the film that he was "the famous Belgian sleuth", which I quote from in the OP!
  • Posts: 11,865
    Anybody else saw the movie Agatha? Timothy Dalton plays Archibald Christie.
  • Posts: 8,060
    Dragonpol wrote: »
    Gerard wrote: »
    4) Tony randall. He did for Poirot what Dame Margaret Rutherford did for Miss Marple, and that's not a compliment. Still, Anita Ekberg isn't bad looking.

    Is the Tony Randall film a movie you would recommend? Read a little bit about it not long ago.

    That's the sort of spoof one (The Alphabet Murders, based on The ABC Murders novel) as far as I know, so probably not the best place to look for fidelity to Agatha Christie. I saw a bit of it once (it was B/W I seem to recall) and all I can remember was Poirot saying near the start of the film that he was "the famous Belgian sleuth", which I quote from in the OP!

    Yep, that's the one! Read it had some spy-ish elements to it (don't know if there was much of it, though), and had to check if anyone had opinions about it, as I might buy a copy of it soon. Would definitely buy it for the entertainment factor more than the accuracy of the portrayal of Poirot!
  • Lancaster007Lancaster007 Shrublands Health Clinic, England
    Posts: 1,855
    Ludovico wrote: »
    Anybody else saw the movie Agatha? Timothy Dalton plays Archibald Christie.

    Yeah, seen it a couple of times, quite enjoyed it.
  • The sheer quantity of her work is impressive; that said, she often recycles a lot of her plot devices - the trick is that she's usually able to do it without the reader guessing.

    Her writing is concise, but it can be a bit of work to read through some of the novels. Many of her solutions were ingenious or imaginative, but thankfully always fair. Unfortunately, her later works were noticeably less impressive.

    Some of her works that I most enjoyed, in no particular order:
    The Moving Finger
    Hercule Poirot's Christmas
    And Then There Were None
    Murder on the Orient Express
    The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side
    Endless Night
    Death on the Nile
    Cards on the Table
    The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
    The Body in the Library
    Death in the Clouds
    Murder in Mesopotamia

    Even her lesser works, which came about during her later years, still had an occasional clever ploy. E.g. Dead Man's Folly, where even
    title is a clue
    .

    I've seen a few of the Suchet adaptations. Rarely have I been impressed. The adaptation for The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is outright sacrilege, replacing Christie's famous twist ending with a frustratingly pointless gun battle. Yawn.
  • Posts: 3,440
    After Poirot, what is your favourite portrayal of Miss Marple on the screen ? My ranking order :

    1) Joan Hickson. On TV, she's the one I'm most familiar with (haven't seen much of Geraldine McEwan or Julia McKenzie to form an opinion, unfortunately). So It's Joan for me, all the way. And I love the main theme.



    2) Angela Lansbury. The Mirror Crack'd was a good adaptation, which I saw before reading the novel. I was not the only one, because in the teater, the revelation of the motive behind the murder elicited a big "Oh My God !" from a member of the audience).

    3) Dame Margaret Rutherford. Now, don't get me wrong, Dame Margaret was a fantastic comic actress. But Miss Marple she wasn't, sorry. Still, her movies are really funny. And the main theme is quite catchy (Ron Goodwin at his finest) :

  • Posts: 8,060
    Only seen the Geraldine McEwan/Julia McKenzie adaptations, but I haven't read enough Miss Marple books to tell if they play the character in any way close to the Miss Marple in the books. Both had their moments in the role, I think - and I usually watch the episodes when they're on TV.
  • Posts: 11,865
    I can't stand Miss Marple. Utterly unbelievable.

    To be honest Agatha Christie was not a very good writer: her characters are often stereotypical, her prose pretty journalistic and the plots contrived. But her flaws were the ones of her fellow writers and she was better than most of them. And she had a few moments of greatness : ATTWN, Crooked House (maybe her best?), although then she's great not as a crime fiction writer but because the stories go into proto slasher or family dramas.
  • DragonpolDragonpol Schloss Drache ~ Writer/Director @ The Bondologist Blog
    edited December 2018 Posts: 12,478
    Just a little reminder that Poirot returns to our TV screens in The ABC Murders on BBC 1 this Boxing Day night at 9 pm and on the following two nights.

    It stars John Malkovich as the famous Belgian sleuth. Will anyone here be watching?
  • edited December 2018 Posts: 8,060
    Dragonpol wrote: »
    Just a little reminder that Poirot returns to our TV screens in The ABC Murders on BBC 1 this Boxing Day night at 9 pm and on the following two nights.

    It stars John Malkovich as the famous Belgian sleuth. Will anyone here be watching?

    Wonder if this one will be aired on TV here at some point. There's an Agatha Christie's series airing tonight though – Ordeal by Innocence. As we have an "Easter crime" tradition in Norway, it won't surprise me if they'll show The ABC Murders then.
  • Posts: 11,865
    Dragonpol wrote: »
    Just a little reminder that Poirot returns to our TV screens in The ABC Murders on BBC 1 this Boxing Day night at 9 pm and on the following two nights.

    It stars John Malkovich as the famous Belgian sleuth. Will anyone here be watching?

    Been watching it. Very different from the novel in tone and slightly different plot. Malkovich is excellent as a frail, worned out Poirot. But not certain if I like it or not.
  • Posts: 10,503
    Hate it !
  • Posts: 11,865
    Hate it !

    I have seen the whole episode and can see why. They have been... Let's say creative.

    One thing that struck me is that of all Poirot actors I've seen David Suchet is the only one sounding like a native French speaker when speaking French. Albeit he sounds from France and not Belgium.
  • DragonpolDragonpol Schloss Drache ~ Writer/Director @ The Bondologist Blog
    Posts: 12,478
    Hate it !

    Yes, John Malkovich has been a controversial choice to play Poirot. He's breaking with tradition by not doing the requisite Belgian accent. I've not seen it yet as I had a very early start at work today.
  • edited December 2018 Posts: 11,865
    I don't think any Poirot had a proper Belgian accent. They all sound sort of French. Even his name is more French than Belgian.
  • DragonpolDragonpol Schloss Drache ~ Writer/Director @ The Bondologist Blog
    edited December 2018 Posts: 12,478
    Ludovico wrote: »
    I don't think any Poirot had a proper Belgian accent. They all sound sort of French. Even his name is more French than Belgian.

    Yes, you're most likely right. Of course many people incorrectly think that Poirot is French anyway, so I suppose not many viewers notice anything amiss with the accent. I agree that David Suchet is hard to beat as Poirot.
  • Posts: 11,865
    You mean David Suchet.

    Watching episode 2. So much has been changed they might as well call it The BBC Murders.
  • DragonpolDragonpol Schloss Drache ~ Writer/Director @ The Bondologist Blog
    edited December 2018 Posts: 12,478
    Ludovico wrote: »
    You mean David Suchet.

    Watching episode 2. So much has been changed they might as well call it The BBC Murders.

    Yes, I do. I mixed the two brothers up there. Silly me!
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