Appointment With Agatha discussion

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The Adaptations > Christie on the big screen: the movie adaptions

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message 1: by Lillelara (last edited Aug 20, 2020 01:47AM) (new)

Lillelara | 65 comments I haven´t found a place where to discuss the movie and tv adaptions of Agatha Christie´s novels. So here we go.

I just stumbled upon the trailer for the Kenneth Branagh adaption of Death on the Nile:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RIyKu...

My initial impression:



I will give the movie the bonus of being complete eye candy. But I loathe Kenneth Branaghs portrayal of Poirot (based on his performance in Murder on the Orient Express and the little snippets of trailer). The way he constantly talks and looks angrily at everyone, I wouldn´t be surprised if he ends up being the murderer himself.
Oh, and they added Bouc into this movie as well. For what purpose I don´t know. Probably as a poor man Hastings substitute.

I guess this is going to be another movie adaption of a Christie novel the world doesn´t need. However, I will be watching it as soon as it is shown on tv. I won´t be spending money on it, though.


message 2: by BrokenTune (new)

BrokenTune | 348 comments Lillelara wrote: "I haven´t found a place where to discuss the movie and tv adaptions of Agatha Christie´s novels. So here we go.
I just stumbled upon the trailer for the Kenneth Branagh adaption of [book:Death on ..."


Oh, wow, the casting and photography looks so, so, SO good, which makes it even worse that share your low expectations for the film as an adaptation of the story.
I'm not keen on Branagh as Poirot (and hated the first movie so much) so won't be rushing out to spend money on this one either.


message 3: by Gretchen (new)

Gretchen (eab2012) | 16 comments It definitely looks like a Branagh film. Take that as you will.

I love Gal Gadot and movie theaters are something I desperately miss right now. I'll probably see this movie just to get out of the house.


message 4: by Lillelara (new)

Lillelara | 65 comments Gretchen wrote: "It definitely looks like a Branagh film. Take that as you will.

I love Gal Gadot and movie theaters are something I desperately miss right now. I'll probably see this movie just to get out of the ..."


I like Gal Gadot, too, and she looks so classy in this movie. And the cinematography is stunning in these movies. But Branagh´s depiction of Poirot really, really irks me. Whatever it is he is playing, it is not Poirot.

Apparently my local cinema has been allowed to open again. I don´t feel comfortable to watch a movie in it, though, even with all the new safety rules.


message 5: by Deborah (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 140 comments I know this truly isn’t pure Christie but I do love Margaret Rutherford as Miss Marple. Not for accuracy, but just for fun.


message 6: by BrokenTune (new)

BrokenTune | 348 comments Deborah wrote: "I know this truly isn’t pure Christie but I do love Margaret Rutherford as Miss Marple. Not for accuracy, but just for fun."

Me too! Those Rutherford movies are pure comfort watching for me. Christie was not fond of the adaptations, and Hickson was the closest anyone has come to portraying book Marple in any of the adaptations, but Rutherford is pure fun. It was the joy of watching her films that got me into Christie in the first place.



(Sorry. I couldn't resist.)


message 7: by Brenda (new)

Brenda (gd2brivard) | 120 comments I LOVE IT!!! it’s wonderful, thanks for that picture!


message 8: by Lillelara (last edited Aug 20, 2020 09:46AM) (new)

Lillelara | 65 comments Deborah wrote: "I know this truly isn’t pure Christie but I do love Margaret Rutherford as Miss Marple. Not for accuracy, but just for fun."

I love the Rutherford Marple movies. They were tremendously popular in late 1980s Germany, I basically grew up with them. And they still have a very special place in my heart.


message 9: by Christine PNW, Agathyte (last edited Aug 20, 2020 10:01AM) (new)

Christine PNW (moonlight_reader) | 922 comments I have to admit that the Branagh adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express was a guilty pleasure, and I'm sure that Death on the Nile will be as well. They are just so gorgeous. You're right about Branagh's portrayal of Poirot, but my glamour loving heart can't help itself.

My daughter & I will see the movie in the theater if we can and I'll try not to notice the issues with the adaptation and just immerse myself in the lush production values.

That's one of the reasons that I hate the Phelps adaptations so much, I think. She not only gets the characters wrong, but her productions are grimy and gritty and ugly. I know that's a thing, but Agatha could do glamour and Phelps strips the glamour out of her productions (except for And Then There Were None, which is the only one that I really like).

Also, to give Branagh his due, so far he hasn't mucked about with the perpetrator.


message 10: by BrokenTune (new)

BrokenTune | 348 comments Christine PNW wrote: "I have to admit that the Branagh adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express was a guilty pleasure, and I'm sure that Death on the Nile will be as well. They are just so gorgeous. You're right about..."

I hear you on the glamour aspect of the films and the Branagh adaptations are gorgeous in that way. In that sense, I think, they are quite close to the books - Christie's stories aren't set in the upper classes of society but they are touching upon them, and this is where the veneer comes off and we get to see that there is something rotten underneath quite a few of the settings. To me this is part of what makes Christie's story special - not all that glitters is gold and all that.
The Phelps productions (I abhor them) misses out on that point because the setting is wrong to begin with (as are so, so many other aspect in them -- I really am no fan). There is no veneer of glamour, or even aspiration, that can be scratched to show the dark, dark heart. We basically start the story from the wrong end, trying to find something in the grime.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 109 comments The best movie adaptations, in terms of being close to the actual works by Christie, in my book are:

Witness for the Prosecution (1957) - despite Tyrone Power being miscast, everyone else is firing on all cylinders.

Murder on the Orient Express (1974).

Death on the Nile (1978). He's not my favorite Poirot, but these films have great casts and are faithful in plot and tone to the 2 novels on which they are based.

The Mirror Crack'd (1980). Liz Taylor is chewing scenery and having a fabulous time.


Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) (themis-athena) | 471 comments Susanna - Censored by GoodReads wrote: The best movie adaptations, in terms of being close to the actual works by Christie, in my book are:

Witness for the Prosecution (1957) - despite Tyrone Power being miscast, everyone else is firing on all cylinders.

Murder on the Orient Express (1974).

Death on the Nile (1978). He's not my favorite Poirot, but these films have great casts and are faithful in plot and tone to the 2 novels on which they are based.

The Mirror Crack'd (1980). Liz Taylor is chewing scenery and having a fabulous time."


Agreed in every respect!


message 13: by Deborah (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 140 comments Susanna - Censored by GoodReads wrote: "The best movie adaptations, in terms of being close to the actual works by Christie, in my book are:

Witness for the Prosecution (1957) - despite Tyrone Power being miscast, everyone else is firin..."



Loved the first two.


message 14: by BrokenTune (new)

BrokenTune | 348 comments I fell into a YouTube classic movies rabbit hole this afternoon and came across the 1945 version of And Then There Were None.
Judith Anderson is simply marvellous as Emily Brent.


message 15: by Brenda (new)

Brenda (gd2brivard) | 120 comments I’m not sure this falls under « big screen » but wasn’t sure which category it would fit...

For those that have BritBox or want to try it out, beginning October 9/10th they’re having a special anniversary on 100 years of Poirot and Miss Marple and hosting quite a few additions to their Christie catalog of classic mysteries, a movie of her and personal excerpts « in her own words ».


message 16: by Tara (new)

Tara  | 105 comments I grew up watching the David Suchet Poirot series, so he will always be my number one in that category. The early seasons are still comfort watches, although the later seasons got a bit too dark and moody for me. I also really like the Peter Ustinov movies Evil Under The Sun and Death on the Nile (Bette David and Maggie Smith are a perfect comedy duo.) He's not the best Poirot, but they are fun, and the spirit of the stories and casting is great. I also liked the 1974 Murder on the Orient Express for everything but Albert Finney. What a clown.
I actually watched the Margaret Rutherford movies before I ever read a Miss Marple book, and while I am normally a purist when it comes to adaptations, she's just so great to watch, I don't particularly care in this instance. Good, 60s fun.
I hated Branagh's MOTOE, although I will probably still end up watching the Nile once its on a streaming service.


Natalie aka Tannat | 93 comments Not the big screen, but I foolishly attempted to watch The ABC Murders mini series and was rather disappointed. They excised Hastings and although I'm far from a purist as far as Christie goes, the whole thing had an off vibe.


message 18: by BrokenTune (new)

BrokenTune | 348 comments @ Natalie - The adaptation with Ron Weasley?


message 19: by Tara (new)

Tara  | 105 comments Natalie aka Tannat wrote: "Not the big screen, but I foolishly attempted to watch The ABC Murders mini series and was rather disappointed. They excised Hastings and although I'm far from a purist as far as Christie goes, the..."

I abandoned it part way through. Just dreadful.


message 20: by BrokenTune (new)

BrokenTune | 348 comments Tara wrote: "Natalie aka Tannat wrote: "Not the big screen, but I foolishly attempted to watch The ABC Murders mini series and was rather disappointed. They excised Hastings and although I'm far from a purist a..."

It was. I think I'm still in denial over it. I refuse to acknowledge that production as a Christie adaptation.


Natalie aka Tannat | 93 comments BrokenTune wrote: "@ Natalie - The adaptation with Ron Weasley?"

Apparently, but I didn't even recognize him! I don't think I'll watch the rest of it. I was hoping for a comfortable murder mystery vibe and...sigh.


message 22: by BrokenTune (new)

BrokenTune | 348 comments Natalie aka Tannat wrote: "BrokenTune wrote: "@ Natalie - The adaptation with Ron Weasley?"

Apparently, but I didn't even recognize him! I don't think I'll watch the rest of it. I was hoping for a comfortable murder mystery..."


I totally understand that disappointment.


message 23: by Christine PNW, Agathyte (last edited Oct 18, 2020 03:27PM) (new)

Christine PNW (moonlight_reader) | 922 comments (view spoiler)


message 24: by Tara (new)

Tara  | 105 comments (view spoiler)


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 109 comments Speaking of dire adaptations of Christie, I must mention the 2015 version of "Partners in Crime." I made it halfway through the first episode. Jessica Raines was OK as Tuppence, but I could not support: the shift in setting from 1919 to the 1950s, adding a child, fighting Cold War spies, a horribly miscast Tommy, and a badly written show all around.

The best screen Tommy & Tuppence that I am aware of are Francesca Annis and James Warwick, who made Secret Adversary and Partners in Crime in the 1980s.


message 26: by BrokenTune (new)

BrokenTune | 348 comments Susanna - Censored by GoodReads wrote: "Speaking of dire adaptations of Christie, I must mention the 2015 version of "Partners in Crime." I made it halfway through the first episode. Jessica Raines was OK as Tuppence, but I could not sup..."

I watched that one the other week. Walliams was entirely miscast. Raine was good. However, this was the first time that I felt like I could not keep my eyes open for the entire length of the film. They could have cut at least 30 minutes and it still would have seemed endless. The script was not great either.

When will scriptwriters realise that not messing with the original is the best way to approach Christie?

I really like the Annis/Warwick series, tho.


Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) (themis-athena) | 471 comments BrokenTune wrote: "When will scriptwriters realise that not messing with the original is the best way to approach Christie?"

Never. Or at least, every generation seems to have to figure this one out for itself. I love the David Suchet, Joan Hickson, and Annis / Warwick adaptations precisely because they leave Christie's material essentially intact. And yeah, Annis and Warwick are just perfect as Tommy and Tuppence (or rather, Tuppence and Tommy). I always regretted that they didn't go back and do "By the Pricking of My Thumbs" with them when they were the right age.

Though, I have to qualify that "leave the source material intact" statement for the David Suchet "Orient Express" -- of all entries in the canon. I recently rewatched it, and my hate for it seems to grow with every revisit ... looking back, it seems like a harbinger of all the awfulness to come with the more recent BBC productions ("And Then There Were None" excepted). And nothing against Toby Jones as an actor per se, but whoever cast him as Ratchett has apparently never bothered to read a single word of Christie's description of the man's actual physical appearance. (Not to mention that Jones is about as menacing as a wet towel.) But then, the tone of the whole production is so off, it's not even on the same planet as Christie's book.


message 28: by BrokenTune (new)

BrokenTune | 348 comments Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) wrote: "BrokenTune wrote: "When will scriptwriters realise that not messing with the original is the best way to approach Christie?"

Never. Or at least, every generation seems to have to figure this one o..."


I am actually ok with that production. Tho, I agree about Toby Jones' lack of menacing qualities. I thought his casting in Witness for the Prosecution was even worse, tho.


message 29: by Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) (last edited Nov 09, 2020 09:04AM) (new)

Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) (themis-athena) | 471 comments "Witness for the Prosecution" is probably one of the worst of the recent adaptations -- or at least, one of (if not *the*) worst I've seen.

I'd be OK with the Suchet "Orient Express" if (a) they had left out the "stoning" scene at the beginning, and if (b) the ending -- and overall, their approach to Poirot -- didn't twist Christie's take into its exact opposite.

NB: Spoiler discusses the solution.

(view spoiler)

I was taken aback when I saw this adaptation for the first time ... having now seen some of the more recent screen adaptations, too, I can see a direct line from the Suchet "Orient Express" to those (and let's not even get into the recent "ABC Murders").


message 30: by Tara (new)

Tara  | 105 comments Unfortunately a lot of the later Suchet series made him very shouty and humorless, which has yet to appear in any of the books I've read. A happy exception is A Cat Among Pigeons, which was surprisingly good.


Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) (themis-athena) | 471 comments Tara wrote: "Unfortunately a lot of the later Suchet series made him very shouty and humorless, which has yet to appear in any of the books I've read. A happy exception is A Cat Among Pigeons, which was surpris..."

I love "Cat Among the Pigeons" -- the TV adaptation at least as much as the actual book. Harriet Walter is fabulous as Miss Bulstrode (but then, she is fabulous in whatever she takes on).

And, yeah. I'm currently revisiting pretty much the entire series, higgledy-piggledy, and the changed tone in some of the final episodes really stands out. It's actually not the shouting as such -- Poirot does that in the earlier episodes, too, when he is angry at someone (and I don't mean the bits that are actually intended to be funny; there are moments where he is genuinely furious and where he even terrifies people, too) -- BUT it's always balanced out by humor, exactly as it is in Christie's novels, too. And it's the humor that is absent from some (though fortunately not all) of the final episodes, so the shouting and depression is pretty much all you're left with.

That said, there are episodes even towards the series's end that I like a lot -- e.g., "Cat Among the Pigeons", "Three-Act Tragedy", and of course the Ariadne Oliver mysteries (I'm really glad they managed to get Zoe Wanamaker to do all of those).


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 109 comments Zoe Wanamaker is an excellent Ariadne Oliver.


message 33: by Tara (new)

Tara  | 105 comments Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) wrote: "Tara wrote: "Unfortunately a lot of the later Suchet series made him very shouty and humorless, which has yet to appear in any of the books I've read. A happy exception is A Cat Among Pigeons, whic..."

I agree 1000%. And Harriet Walter will always be Fanny Dashwood in my mind.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 109 comments She was a fantastic Harriet Vane.


message 35: by BrokenTune (new)

BrokenTune | 348 comments HW is pretty fantastic in everything. I love her audiobook narrations, too.


Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) (themis-athena) | 471 comments Susanna - Censored by GoodReads wrote: "She was a fantastic Harriet Vane."

That's how I chiefly think of her as well. Fanny Dashwood is icing on the cake. And @BT, absolutely -- I love her audio narrations as well.

Though, according to her autobiography (and her book on playing Shakespeare's heroes as a woman) she primarily sees herself as stage performer ... and I'd love to see her in a theatrical setting one day.


message 37: by BrokenTune (new)

BrokenTune | 348 comments Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) wrote: "Susanna - Censored by GoodReads wrote: "She was a fantastic Harriet Vane."

That's how I chiefly think of her as well. Fanny Dashwood is icing on the cake. And @BT, absolutely -- I love her audio n..."


She is magnificient on stage.


Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) (themis-athena) | 471 comments BrokenTune wrote: "She is magnificient on stage."

I bet.


message 39: by Christine PNW, Agathyte (new)

Christine PNW (moonlight_reader) | 922 comments BrokenTune wrote: "She is magnificient on stage."

That's a dream I am unlikely to realize, but if I were rich, I'd spend shocking amounts of money to get a ticket to one of her performances.


message 40: by Christine PNW, Agathyte (last edited Nov 17, 2020 07:46AM) (new)

Christine PNW (moonlight_reader) | 922 comments I have read Murder on the Orient Express at least ten times, but I'm not positive about what I'm about to say:

(view spoiler)


message 41: by Christine PNW, Agathyte (last edited Nov 17, 2020 07:51AM) (new)

Christine PNW (moonlight_reader) | 922 comments I had mixed emotions about the newest Witness for the Prosecution adaptation. It hewed very close to Christie's story, which I liked. The rest of it, though, just didn't really work for me.

Has anyone seen the adaptation of Crooked House with Glenn Close? It's not a Phelps adaptation, but it has some of the similar darkness. I quite liked it, actually. I feel like it has a sexy modern vibe, but it's also recognizably Christie.


message 42: by BrokenTune (new)

BrokenTune | 348 comments Christine PNW wrote: "I had mixed emotions about the newest Witness for the Prosecution adaptation. It hewed very close to Christie's story, which I liked. The rest of it, though, just didn't really work for me.

Has a..."


I liked the Glenn Close Crooked House one!


Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) (themis-athena) | 471 comments Christine PNW wrote: "I have read Murder on the Orient Express at least ten times, but I'm not positive about what I'm about to say:

"


After having listened to the book again recently, I'd say

(view spoiler)


message 44: by Christine PNW, Agathyte (new)

Christine PNW (moonlight_reader) | 922 comments Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) wrote: "Christine PNW wrote: "I have read Murder on the Orient Express at least ten times, but I'm not positive about what I'm about to say:

"

After having listened to the book again recently, I'd say

..."


Very interesting - I'll be sure and be on the lookout for this question the next time I reread. Not sure when that will be - I'm not thinking it will be this year. My plans for a Christie wintry reread include Hercule Poirot's Christmas (as usual) and The Sittaford Mystery.


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