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Agathie Christie's Poirot - Cards on the Table

3.1 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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(Jan 01, 2005)
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Product Details

  • Actors: David Suchet, Zoe Wanamaker, Alexander Siddig, David Westhead
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Run Time: 94 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000M1A5K2
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #253,640 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By L O'connor on July 7, 2007
'Cards on the Table' is one of my favourite Poirot novels, but this TV film has made a ghastly mess of the original story. Characters have been changed, or entirely replaced by other characters. A character who killed someone by accident in the book, is in this film version made out to have killed deliberately. The two girls have their roles swapped,so that the one who is the murderer in the book, is the innocent one in the film. The girl who is supposed to be guilty (but who in the film is made out to be innocent) turns out to be the daugther of one of the other characters (in the book they aren't related at all). And I need hardly say that there is no mention whatsoever of gay porn in the book. Most annoying of all, Superintendant Battle, who is one of Agatha Christie's best creations, does not appear in this film version at all.

The whole thing is absolutely maddening. If you watch this, do not imagine that it bears any resemblance at all to the original book, because it doesn't.
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"Cards on the Table" is a 90-minute film, part of Series 10 of "Agatha Christie's Poirot, that originally aired on Britain's ITV in 2006. Based on Christie's 1936 novel of the same name, this story introduced the character of mystery novelist Ariadne Oliver. Poirot is invited by London's richest man, the sinister Mr. Shaitana (Alexander Siddig), to his home for a dinner party, as is Poirot's friend Ariadne Oliver (Zoë Wannamaker). They are joined by police Superintendent Wheeler (David Westhead), Colonel Hughes (Robert Pugh), whom he suspects works for the Secret Service, Dr. Roberts (Alex Jennings), a physician, Mrs. Lorrimer (Lesley Manville), a cool middle-aged woman, Ann Meredith (Lyndsey Marshall), a nervous young woman, and adventurer Major Despard (Tristan Gemmill).

Mr. Shaitana steers the dinner conversation to murder, suggesting ways that one might commit the crime. After dinner, Mr. Shaitana divides the guests into two groups of four and shows them to bridge tables in separate rooms. The sleuths -Poirot, Wheeler, Hughes, and Oliver- are in one room, and they wonder what the other group may have in common. Mr. Shaitana does not play bridge but tries to ensure that his guests enjoy themselves before falling asleep in a chair. At the end of the evening, as the guests say their goodbyes, it is discovered that Shaitana has been murdered, a stiletto driven through his heart while he slept. The four guests who played bridge in that room are the suspects, and the four sleuths must find the killer.

This is the most contrived set-up I've seen in an Agatha Christie novel, which is saying something. Mr. Shaitana is rich, bored, and amoral. He amuses himself with real-life games.
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David Suchet, who has played the villain in other films, is, as usual, superb as Hercule Poirot in this somewhat unusual tale. Poirot is invited together with four people, his friend the crime novelist Adriane Oliver, who adds some humor to the adventure, and two police officers, to an evening with the rather strange, very rich, Mr. Shaitana, apparently a Syrian. Shaitana tells Poirot that he is unusual in that he enjoys taking pictures of people and collecting murderers, not their pictures, but the people themselves. After a sumptuous meal, he has his guests play bridge, while he watches them for some time. However, after a while, he sits down in a large chair with high side arms that conceal him from view, and is later, after the several bridge games, found dead, stabbed through the heart. The police find that he has also been drugged. Poirot spend the rest of the film interviewing the guests, and discovers that each of them has a secret that Shaitana apparently knew about, them even though they tried to hide the secrets. Poirot has to find out why Shaitana invited these guests to his home, who drugged him, who stabbed him, and why.

The film is different than the book, book is still delightful.
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This was my very first David Suchet 'Poiroit' and I can see why the man has been doing this role for the better part of twenty years - he captures the effete diminutive detective with finesse and panaché.

However, I would be deceitful if I said I haven't forgotten Albert Finney's incomparable definitive definition of the role; you'd have to be completely unaware of it not to be playing in the background of your mind. Still, Suchet's interpretation is completely engaging and very enjoyable, particularly in contrast to the very first time I 'met' him as a psychotic manipulative murderer. An indelible performance that, unfortunately, tainted my view of the man for nearly as long as he's played the role of the Belgian sleuth.

It's still a difficult film to review because I'm one-hundred-percent certain that the character developed considerably over those many years. Already screened three other Poirot productions since this one, all out of order, and the interpretations are noticeably different. Mannerisms, timing, humor - or lack thereof - all different.

To properly gauge this film, I suspect I'll have to purchase the entire series and watch them in the order they were created to truly grasp the evolution of the character.

Growth is not something you can capture with a snapshot, especially with such an extensive archive of material.

For this film, Poiroit confronts a strange mystery - the death of a very wealthy and cultured gentleman from origins unknown. Shaitana, the toast of society, has announced a dinner party. To be invited is considered an honor, so Poirot takes it as a compliment when his would-be host insists on his presence.
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