Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

How not to do Agatha Christie ?

Another AND THEN THERE WERE NONE - from the BBC shown three nights after Christmas. Reviewers and some bloggers have liked it (hello Mark), but am I the only one who found it excruciating? - dragged out to three hours, the life seemed sucked out of it. I have not read Christie' original or seen the 1945 film version, but my sister assures me it followed the book faithfully, with everyone dead at the end, leaving a puzzle for the police when they finally get to that deserted island with 10 bodies, off the coast of Devon, in 1939.

Well I much prefer the glossy 60s and 70s versions: TEN LITTLE INDIANS in 1965 where Hugh O'Brien and Shirley Eaton are the main young couple, Fabian and Daliah Lavi provide the glamour and the oldies are Wilfrid Hyde White as the judge and Dennis Price as the doctor, plus Stanley Holloway and Leo Genn. That was a zippy Harry Alan Towers production set in a Swiss mountain top fortress. 
The 1974 AND THEN THERE WERE NONE was a very glossy international production with the bonus of being filmed in Iran, with leads Oliver Reed and Elke Sommer, French stars Stephane Audran and Charles Aznavour (who croaks one of his hits before being the first to expire), Richard Attenborough and Herbert Lom were judge and doctor, and we had not one but two Bond villains: GOLDFINGER Gert Frobe and Adolfo Celi. (see Christie label for more on these).

SPOILERS AHEAD: Both of the above had the main young leads surviving at the end, as that gun had some fake bullet - so they were able to spoil to real killer's plot ...... This new BBC version is very dark and gloomy, cue lots of bad weather and thunderstorms,  but also lots of unnecessary flashbacks, but the casting is the thing here: POLDARK's Aidan Turner shows how to wear a towel - as a low-slung sarong, Douglas Booth - he of the cheekbones one could grate cheese on - is the first to go, Toby Stephens looks very dashing, Sam Neill, Miranda Richardson, and Charles Dance ..... but in all it a long way from those glossy 80s all-star Christie adaptations one can enjoy any time.

Now for the BBCs new WAR AND PEACE, in 6 hours (their previous one in 1972, with a young Anthony Hopkins) ran for 20 episodes .... and includes sex scenes which Tolstoy "forgot to write" according to veteran adapter Andrew Davies ..... we have been warned!


  1. Granted your title here is rhetorical, but I'd argue that following Christie's original faithfully is perhaps precisely how to do her work justice? ;)

  2. I'm afraid those endless slow flashbacks rather ruined it for me, taking one away from the real plot - plus all those ghostly apparitions and thunderstorms all trying to create a horror show.

  3. The most faithful adaptation of the novel is the russian Desyat Negrityat. However the 1945 René Clair version (with Judith "I am Mrs Denvers and I hate you on sight and principle" Anderson) remains imo the most entertaining. You'd never think they could turn such a terrifying book into such a funny comedy but it works wonderfully. Worst one has to be the 1974 version despite its stellar cast who is wasted in every sense of the word.