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Read the books if you want to know these stories.
on February 17, 2015
I usually dislike film adaptations of books because so often there are unnecessary, destructive and just plain silly changes that alter the tone, fabric and nature of the story. Sadly, the otherwise excellent Poirot series has fallen victim to frivolous and often ruinous changes.
The Mystery of the Blue Train: A simply awful story, Christie herself hated it and considered it her worst story. The film adaptation is a morass of ill-timed comedy and overplayed characters (and hairdos...poor Lenox). Elliot Gould overacts as always and the not-so-subtle changes to the story (Lady Tamplin & co meeting Katherine on the train); the ridiculous juxtaposition of the party at the villa with the tragedy) made for a terrible storytelling. Also the casting of Knighton and Mason was horribly off -- the two actors, fine in other roles, were all wrong for the parts.
After The Funeral made several unnecessary changes and some that actually benefited the story.. (Cora's name was Lansconet, not Gallacio. Her husband was dead, not alive and, far from being a world famous art appraiser, Lansconet had been a 3rd rate artist). Characters were eliminated or condensed and Mrs. Leo Abernathy was sullied in this version, creating drama for her son George, and a side mystery involving missing papers and a substitute will. Cousin Susan is unmarried in this version, which imho improved the story.
Despite these many changes, this production is well acted, beautifully filmed and turned out very well. In particular, standout performances by Lucy Punch and a chilling turn by the brilliant Monica Dolan as Miss Gilchrist.
There has been an unfortunate penchant for the producers of this series to inject homosexual subplots, undertones and relationships where none was originally conceived, included or written by the author. The only story I can think of where a homosexual relationship was even implied was in A Murder Is Announced" (Murgatroid and Hinchfliffe). Unfortunately this trend continues in this series with the thoroughly butchered "Cards on the Table" -- a story that was so mangled in film as to be unrecognizable. Mrs. Lorrimer was not killed! This change caused the omission of one of Poirot's best denouements! Rhoda and Anne's roles are completely reversed... why? The very motivation for the murders ... changed! Why? No reason. This is a complete pass.
Taken at the Flood, a horrible story to begin with, was not much improved by film. Christie was a hopeless romantic, but absolutely nothing on earth could make me believe that anyone would find David attractive in the least, let alone, Lynne. Overall, the story was forgettable; the abortion bit was gratuitous and unnecessary; why can't filmmakers just tell the story as written? In addition, the title, taken from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, refers to how sometimes, one man's tragedy is another's opportunity. The authors of this film version either missed that, ignored it or just decided to discard this main theme and change things so that the antagonist makes their own fortune. NOT. Probably they should have changed the title as well, because as told on film, the title was incongruent, but not as the author intended.
Overall I give this set a C- and such a high rating only because of the authentic sets and costumes.