Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Poirot: From Page to Screen

I love, love, love Agatha Christie. I’ve read all her books at least twice, and I enjoy the TV and movie adaptations. The version of A Caribbean Mystery featuring Helen Hayes as Miss Marple never fails to cheer me up. Yep, you know you’re a mystery writer at heart when a murder mystery makes you feel better!

Even though I’ve read them all, I’m not as familiar with her short stories. I recently decided to rewatch the first season of the Poirot TV series featuring David Suchet as Poirot.

The first season is 10 episodes, each 48-51 minutes long, all adaptations of Poirot short stories. After watching each episode, I read the story it was based on to see what changes had been made.

Here’s what I noticed:

Captain Hastings and Miss Lemon are often inserted into the TV version of a story where they weren’t in the original. When this happens, there’s usually some scene at the beginning that reveals the relationship between Poirot and the two of them. I have to say, these scenes are the ones I remember the most, probably because they are great fun. And whenever a policeman was needed, Inspector Japp was always the man they called, which wasn’t necessarily true in the original story.

In a couple of the stories, The Adventure of Johnnie Waverly and The Incredible Theft, Poirot is brought in before the crime occurs in the TV version. In the original stories, he’s brought in after the kidnapping and theft, respectively.

In a few of the TV versions, when the culprit is revealed, they added a pursuit scene that wasn’t in the short story. Makes for a better visual and I have to admit is quite fun.

There’s only one story where I noticed the TV adaptation changed a clue slightly, Murder in the Mews. I think it worked out a little better.

A few of the stories collapsed a couple characters, but occasionally new characters were added.

In Four-and-Twenty Blackbirds, there were quite a few changes. Miss Lemon and Captain Hastings were added, the dinner companion was his dentist, someone’s profession was changed, the contents of a letter was changed and a visit to Scotland Yard’s new forensics lab was added.

In The King of Clubs, a famous dancer became a famous actress and the murdered man the head of a movie studio. That gave Poirot the chance to visit a film set.

Overall, they’re quite faithful to the story, keeping the solution and the murderer generally the same. I think these adaptations are great and I have no problems with the changes made. And, dare I say, they made the stories more fun to watch.


Judy Penz Sheluk, author said...

Great recap. I too, love Agatha Christie and the movies! Suchet IS Poirot...I'm sure of it~

Sybil Johnson said...

Thanks, Judy. I can't imagine anyone else playing Poirot now.

Aline Templeton said...

Miss Marple simply is Joan Hickson, in just the same way. Those pircing, faded blue eyes....

Sybil Johnson said...

I agree, Aline. She was perfect in the part.

Christopher Huang said...

I actually like it when they change the murderer, because it feels a bit like a new story and a new chance to pursue the clues and see how they add up. I've decided that if anyone decides to make a film version of my humble little story, I'd insist on changing the ending just so people who've read it can play guess-the-guilty all over again.