Agatha Christie’s famous detective Hercule Poirot has been a popular subject for both cinema and the television. From the first film Alibi in 1931 to the latest version of Murder on the Orient Express released last month In India, Christie’s Poirot has always enthralled audiences with his peculiar quirks, fastidious dressing and of course, his famous moustache.
Despite a bit of cinematic licence taken with the stories, the Christie cauldron of drama, suspense and the nature of humanity are well captured.
Here are five great Hercule Poirot films to watch:
Death On The Nile (1978)
Cast: Peter Ustinov, Bette Davis, Olivia Hussey, Jane Birkin, Lois Chiles, Mia Farrow, Jon Finch, David Niven, Maggie Smith, I S Johar, Simon McCorkindale
Director: John Guillermin
A love affair turns sour during a cruise on the Nile. It involves Jacqueline (Farrow), her fiancé (McCorkindale), and a wealthy heiress Linnet (Chiles).
Poirot (Ustinov) is called into action after a wealthy heiress Linnet is killed. The jealous Jacqueline first shoots her fiancé in the leg and is suspected of killing Linnet. That brings Poirot into the picture and plot and sub-plots reveal the identity of the killer.
Ustonov is excellent as Poirot and is well supported by a solid, star-studded cast. The scenic beauty of Luxor and the Nile adds to the drama.
Murder On The Orient Express (1974)
Cast: Albert Finney, Lauren Bacall, Martin Balsam, Ingrid Bergman, Jacqueline Bisset, Richard Widmark, Vaneesa Redgrave, Sean Connery, Michael York, Wendy Hiller, John Gielgud
Director: Sidney Lumet
Poirot’s (Finney) return to England on the famous Orient Express turns into a drama when a wealthy businessman is found murdered after the train makes a halt due to snow in ex-Yugloslavia.
The suspects had to be from the same bogey as the train compartments were locked and nobody could enter. It is learnt that the businessman was actually a Mafia boss who had kidnapped a young girl.
There are clues galore before Poriot untangles the web of deceit. The film won six Oscar nominations with Bergman winning Best Supporting. This is the second of three Orient Express films.
Evil Under The Sun (1982)
Cast: Peter Ustinov, Jane Birkin, Colin Blakely, Nicholas Clay, James Mason, Roddy McDowall, Sylvia Miles, Diana Rigg, Maggie Smith
Director: Guy Hamilton
A body found on a Yorkshire moor leads Poirot (Ustinov) into a new mystery. A fake diamond belonging to a millionaire and given to his mistress takes the Belgian detective to an Adriatic island where the mystery deepens.
The mistress, who is an actress, Arelena (Diana Rigg) mistreats her stepdaughter Linda and flirts with a handsome young man Patrick (Clay). Arlena has caused a lot of misery to many people and there is motive to kill her.
Then Arlena gets murdered and during a boat ride and all the members who are staying in the house come under suspicion. Poirot needs to exercise his grey cells a little more to get to the truth.
Appointment With Death (1988)
Cast: Peter Ustinov, Lauren Bacall, Carrie Fisher, John Gielgud, Piper Laurie, David Soul, Hayley Mills, Jenny Seagrove
Director: Michael Winner
A stepmother, Emily Boyton (Laurie), blackmails her lawyer into destroying a second will of her late husband to keep her hold on her stepchildren and daughter.
She goes on a holiday to Europe and the Holy Land with them and her daughter-in-law. Poirot enters the case during a stopover in Trieste. She is being followed too by Lady Westholme (Bacall), her secretary and lawyer.
The children locate the will but Emily is found murdered at a dig. Poirot has lots to grapple with before the denouement.
Thirteen At Dinner (1985)
Cast: Peter Ustinov, Faye Dunaway, David Suchet
Director: Lou Antonio
An American actress Jane Wilkinson (Dunaway) seeks a divorce from her husband Lord Edgware asks Poirot (Ustinov) and his friend Hastings to find out about it during a party.
The husband says he had already divorced her. But the next day he is found murdered and the actress is the main suspect. But there is more than what meets the eye.
This film marked the entry of David Suchet in a Poirot story. He went on to play the Belgian detective with such distinction for many years.