Thursday, December 13, 2012

Friday Night at the Movies XIII

Technically it was Saturday Night at the Movies, but why mess with tradition?

Surfing around on Netflix I found an Agatha Christie/ Hercule Poirot movie on, Evil Under the Sun. I love a good mystery story, and Agatha Christie did some of the best.

You can tell a GOOD mystery, because all of the clues are there, and at the end you can look back and say "yep; I missed it".  Where as with some you look back and call bull manure on the solution that was pulled out of thin air. Or someplace darker that creates the same euphemism.

Agatha Christie created two very memorable detectives who appear in multiple novels; Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple. Poirot relies on finding the hard facts, and making sense of them; Miss Marple takes the facts and through a deep understanding of human nature, figures out where the clues lead. Poirot relies on an encyclopedic knowledge of everything; Miss Marple on an encyclopedic knowledge of everyone. Solutions with both tend to ring true, as far as motivations and responses to stimuli, at least to me.

Evil Under the Sun was a made for English theatrical release, and follows the book well in some parts and deviates wildly in others. Peter Ustinov plays the title detective, and in 1982 I might have accepted it. But not now.

I am a huge Christie fan. If she wrote something that I haven't read  it would surprise me. And like any fan, I have developed my own vision of the characters she has so exquisitely drawn. Peter Ustinov is not Hercule Poirot; he plays a caricature of the little man with the egg-shaped head.

His voice was even wrong; instead of speaking in French (yes; I know he is actually from Belgium) accented English, he sounds like what he is; an Englishman trying to fake a French accent. He also exaggerates, probably for comic effect, some of Poirot's characteristics.

I don't know if it is because who ever did the casting for the Poirot Series on A&E (at least in the States; British and Australian TV also had a hand in the production) had the same vision of Poirot as I do, or if the character is so well drawn that everyone has the same vision, but David Suchet is perfect as Poirot. Eccentric, but not comical; vain, but not to the detriment of the man. Even the accent is perfect; just what I would hear in my head while reading one of her mysteries.

But it probably isn't fair to compare a theatrical release movie with a TV series from 10 years later. Although in this case the series wins.

But; I digress.

The movie was very watchable. It was English; the acting was superb. The sets; the dialogue and the photography were all top-notch.

Except Ustinov was not, to me, believable. even the final wrap up seemed contrived, something I never feel in a Christie novel.

Maybe I'm just hyper critical because I have seen what can be done, and won't accept a lesser product. Or maybe this would seem to be a lesser product in any case.

Maybe I need to find somebody not familiar with Christie's work to watch it with me and see what they think.

I also need to re-watch the other Ustinov/Christie movie, Death on the Nile and see how it compares.

Looks like I have some homework to do.

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