Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Films of Agatha Christie: Review

The Films of Agatha Christie (1993) by Scott Palmer was, then, the most complete and up-to-date compilation of visual adaptations of Christie's work both in the cinema and on television. He presents the films in chronological order from Die Abenteuer GMBH (aka Adventurers Inc), made in Germany in 1928, through all the favorites such as Ten Little Indians, Murder on the Orient Express, and Death on the Nile up to the series starring David Suchet as Poirot and the incomparable Joan Hickson as Miss Marple. Palmer gives us detailed synopses of each film and episode without spoiling the ending of any of the stories. He also gives information on changes made in the novels and short stories when the script adaptations were made.

While this book does provide invaluable information about the films and the actors involved in each production as well as being full of photographs from the films and episodes, what keeps this from being a five-star effort is the fact that once Palmer begins describing the series starring David Suchet and Joan Hickson he seems to weary of his work. We are treated to a pretty standard final summation episode after episode: "The usual actors (fill in the names of the standard players for Poirot or Marple episodes) all give their usual exemplary performance and the directors and filming crew do their usual fine job putting the thing together." The last third of the book is far less enjoyable to read than earlier summaries. Still--this is a fine reference book and one would hope that an updated version would be produced now that Suchet has given us the final Poirot story. And one would hope that a more consistent (and original) enthusiasm could be maintained in the synopses. ★★★★


fredamans said...

This sounds fascinating, if you're familiar with the films especially.

J F Norris said...

He probably should have stuck with movies and skipped the TV shows. If I had been interested in buying/reading this book I would've been surprised to see that it did include TV. Film, to my mind, is not the same as television.

I might seek this out at our library if they have it. The early movies from the 1920s, especially non-Enlgish language one,s would be fun to read about. I'm sure they'd be hard to track down on the internet where almost everything seems to wind up.

Bev Hankins said...

John, I don't think I would have bought this new. I got it for a couple bucks from our Friends of the Library Sale--so, it was totally worth that amount.

Yeah, I don't think of TV as film (even if the episodes were filmed on film and not video tape).

Tarissa said...

Hmmm!! Could be interesting, methinks!

cmriedel said...

Very happy advantage is well taken, of the unique features "My Kind Of Mystery" provides! A special home for a book like this, besides non-fiction as a whole. Since there is no shortage of Agatha material, I have to look forward to several non novel treats. Her autobiography, writings of people she met in Africa, and just obtained at our local charity fundraiser: a hardcover highlighting her book cover art.