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Tony Grist

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Agatha Christie [Jul. 16th, 2005|08:47 am]
Tony Grist
Agatha Christie fools me every time. I've studied her methods in film after film (I can't bear the books, but my idea of a relaxing evening is to settle in with a Poirot dramatization) and I never spot the killer in advance.

She's the master of misdirection. All the evidence is there, but somehow she contrives for you not to spot it. She's awesome.

It's become a tradition (ever since Murder on the Orient Express) that Christie dramatizations should be packed with stars and polished to a high shine. The Poirot series (with the incomparable David Suchet) was worth watching simply for the production values. Everything gleamed, everything from the houses to the ashtrays was Art Deco. Mmmmm.

Last night was an oddity. The Pale Horse is late Christie and there's no Poirot, no Miss Marple and it's set contemporaneously in the Sixties. The film was as meticulous in its recreation of that era as tradition demands- with authentic clothes and cars and haircuts, conversational references to "angry young men", posters for Lolita and the Rolling Stones on bedsit walls and the Kinks on the soundtrack. It's odd to see a period one has lived through treated as if it were a remote historical epoch. It made me feel old to the point of ghostliness.

And Gollum was in it- Andy Serkis I mean- as a strange, nerdy, young policeman with an even stranger head of hair. He easily stole the show from the nominal hero. What a talent he is!
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: mummm
2005-07-16 01:26 am (UTC)
I love Agatha's work. I have ever since I read And Then There Were None in junior high school. I love the books, movies, and the made for TV shows.

I'm just curious as to why you can't bear her books? I've read many of them and they are so much fun.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-07-16 02:12 am (UTC)
To be honest, I haven't tried to read any of them for years.

I found then dull and dusty, without any depth of characterization and the intricacy of the plotting made my head spin.

As a writer I think she's much less interesting than Sayers or Allingham or Dickson Carr- all of whom I devoured with gusto in my youth.
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[User Picture]From: mummm
2005-07-16 07:55 am (UTC)
Ha! I guess I am just dull and dusty then too. *wink*
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-07-16 08:14 am (UTC)
Perish the thought :)
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[User Picture]From: sorenr
2005-07-16 01:28 am (UTC)
My favourite Christie BOOK is the only one she published under her second married name, Agatha Christie Mallowan: Come, Tell Me How You Live... -It's basically just a description of what it was like when she went with Mr. Mallowan on the excavations in the Middle East, and it's a really good read. Her prose even seems more lucid and eloquent when she's not doing the who-dunnits. I bought it after they had that exhinbition about her at the British Museum a few years back, and it is still one of the best pieces of autobiography that I can think of.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-07-16 02:14 am (UTC)
That sounds really interesting.

I've always been intrigued by the Christie-Mallowan marriage- partly because Mallowan was a distinguished old boy of my school.
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[User Picture]From: c_earnshaw
2005-07-16 01:39 am (UTC)
Pardon my intrusion into your journal, but this post prompted a rise of nostalgia within me, as I grew up reading Agatha Christie's books and thoroughly enjoyed watching the Poirot and Miss Marple series. Those stories made up quite a wonderful chunk of my childhood.

Thank you for the reminder. =o)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-07-16 02:19 am (UTC)
Pleased to meet you.

The Poirot series is my favourite. I think David Suchet is wonderful. The new Marple with Geraldine McEwen (sp) shows promise and I'm looking forward to further episodes.
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[User Picture]From: halfmoon_mollie
2005-07-16 05:16 am (UTC)
love David Suchet

Agatha Christie was the first 'grown up'mystery writer I read. I love her stuff, and have to admit that I'm rather suprised you do not. I especially liked the Tommy and Tuppence books. PBS had dramatizations of some of them on "Mystery" (which were probably orginally BBC.

I thought "Murder on the Orient Express" (the first one, I think, was Peter Sellers in that?) was WAY overdone.

But..heck yes. Three cheers and a big huzzah for Dame Christie.



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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-07-16 08:18 am (UTC)
I've seen one or two of the Tommy & Tuppence dramatizations. That was Francesca Annis and...er...some bloke.

(I was at school with Francesca Annis's brother)

I agree about MOTOE. Albert Finney was far too mannered as Poirot.

Ustinov was OK, but his build is all wrong.
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[User Picture]From: strange_complex
2005-07-16 05:52 am (UTC)
My rule of thumb is that it's usually the person who nearly gets killed early on. They later turn out to have faked an attempt on their life in order to avert suspicion. But it doesn't always work.
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[User Picture]From: halfmoon_mollie
2005-07-16 06:18 am (UTC)
ooooooooooooooh, a Jeremy Brett icon! I love it!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-07-16 08:20 am (UTC)
I'll second that. Brett's Holmes is extraordinary.
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[User Picture]From: halfmoon_mollie
2005-07-16 08:50 am (UTC)
Jeremy Brett took away Basil Rathbone's *title* as THE definitive Sherlock Holmes. He was amazing, although toward the end of his life his Holmes was a little bloated - alas, as we found out later, due to Jeremy's medical condition.

I've always admired Francesa because she is in a relationship with a much younger man...
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-07-16 11:43 am (UTC)
I agree about Brett & Rathbone. As so often happens with very successful series they carried on longer than they should have done. By the end they'd run out of good original stories and were having to "improve upon" the sweepings of Conan Doyle's workshop.

And, yes, sadly, Brett no longer looked the part.

Francesca is with Ralph Fiennes, right?
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[User Picture]From: halfmoon_mollie
2005-07-16 01:10 pm (UTC)
Francesca is with Ralph Fiennes, right?

mmm, yes she is. And isn't she lucky?

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-07-16 08:19 am (UTC)
Yes, that works sometimes, but, as you say, she keeps changing the formula.
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2005-07-16 07:26 am (UTC)
Kate echoes you completely--she just finished Sleeping Murder on Friday, when she said, exactly as you did, "That Agatha Christie fools me every time! How does she do it?"

We each have our own Harry Potters this morning, so it's very quiet around here. I'm just passing through to check my mail on my way to the porch.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-07-16 11:44 am (UTC)
"We each have our own Harry Potters this morning"

I suspect this is going to be a very uneventful day on LJ.
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[User Picture]From: kaysho
2005-07-25 02:47 pm (UTC)
I love the production with David Suchet ... it's so good to see a television production where everyone obviously is going to great lengths to make sure everything is Just So. :)
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