Top critical review
81 people found this helpful
on August 12, 2010
The reviews of this Poirot release are pretty much evenly split between pro and con. Therefore, I shall go both ways.
I have read all of the Poirot books and short stories, but that was many years ago (I am well past being a sexagenarian). Even if some slight changes from the book were made to "Third Girl," the episode was perfect Suchet Poirot, just like the TV series and most, but not all, of the movies. It was well thought out and well presented. The story was told in logical sequence; Poirot gathered the facts and reached his conclusion in the end.
"Murder on the Orient Express" was more than murder; it was a disaster. All of the actors were totally wooden, amateurish and just did not present their parts effectively. Many feel that movies laden with "stars" suffer from the process; however, not the Albert Finney version. Each character was beautifully described and acted (Ingrid Bergman received an Academy Award). Take especial note of Mrs. Hubbard. In both the book and the Finney version, she just didn't shut up. In the Suchet version, we barely knew she was there. She was the mastermind who set up the entire plot and tried to create red herrings. In the finale of both the book and the Finney movie, Poirot, with a little soul searching, felt that justice would be best served by allowing the perpetrators to go unpunished, and presented the "phony" solution to the Yugoslavian police. In the Suchet version, Poirot almost goes crazy, yelling that this is not the way to go, but he is forced to do so. He almost has an apoplectic fit. NO, this version does not deserve viewing.
"Appointment with Death" was even worse. As a result of some of the negative reviews, and after seeing the movie, I reread the book (my paperback contains 192 pages). There were so many changes to the book as to almost make it a completely different story. Sometimes changes benefit a story. In this case, they were all to its detriment.
The following are the significant differences between the book and the movie. I'm sure I have forgotten to mention one or two.
1. The movie begins with a significant excavation being conducted in Egypt by Mrs. Boynton's archeologist husband. He was looking for the skull of John the Baptist. In the book, Mrs. Boynton was a widow, there were no excavations, and everyone was merely sightseeing.
2. The first 56 pages of the book involved a thorough fleshing out, or description, of the Boynton family members and the other important characters. Poirot did not appear until page 56 when he simply emerged from an elevator. He did not reappear until page 81, AFTER Mrs. Boynton's death. When the crime was committed, he was in a completely different location. In the movie, he was present with all the other characters. It was not until page 99 that he arrived upon the scene.
3. A nun enters near the beginning of the movie (later to be determined to be involved in white slavery). There was no nun in the book, nor any reference to white slavery.
4. Lady Westholme was in both the movie and the book, but there was absolutely no similarity between them, and that completely changed the complexion of the story. Miss Pierce, who was always at Lady Westholme's side in the book, and also played a significant part in the mystery, was absent from the movie. Lennox Boynton's wife, Nadine, was also absent from the movie. She, too, played a significant part.
5. In the movie, Lennox Boynton had a very outgoing and pushy personality. In the book he was way past docile. He had been mentally beaten into that state by his mother.
6. The movie contained the nanny of the children when they were young. There was no nanny in the book. The subsequent death of the nanny could not have occurred in the book since she did not exist there.
7. Throughout the movie there were flashbacks of the children crying in the bedroom, and visions, looking through a partially-open bathroom door, of the nanny physically abusing the children, amid their screams, and with Mrs. Boynton watching. The book contained no nanny, no flashbacks and no physical abuse. It was stated more than once that Mrs. Boynton was a "mental sadist." There was no physical abuse.
8. In the movie, the daughter, Ginny, was just another child of Mrs. Boynton. She was even the aggressor and stole a kiss from another character, and fell asleep in his arms. In the book she was the youngest child, the one most affected by her mother's mental sadism from which she sought shelter in a dream world.
9. I won't go into detail, but Jefferson Cope was a completely different person from book to movie.
10. WHO committed the murder and HOW was it committed? The movie and book are significantly different in both respects.
11. Finally, the denouement, the revelation of the crime and the guilty was so completely different from the book as to make them two stories that had no relation to one another.
David Suchet has appeared in so many Poirot mysteries, and has performed so well in them. WHY did he ever consent to be present in this abomination? This is a definite mark against his reputation as the ultimate Poirot.
If "Third Girl" is ever issued singly, I shall purchase it and donate this set to the public library. At least I will get a tax deduction out of it.
ADDENDUM at April 25, 2011
I have solved my problem. I purchased a DVD player that plays DVDs from all regions and have just received in the mail the Region 2 (United Kingdom) DVD of "Third Girl." It is playing beautifully. Now, as I said above, I can donate the Set 5 to the public library and gain a tax deduction. I now have the one of the three stories that is done well. I plan to order other discs from the UK that I cannot obtain here.