Poirot: Hercule Poirot's Christmas [DVD]  [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
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Hercule Poirot's Christmas is an ITV adaptation of Agatha Christie's novel of the same name which follows multi millionaire Simeon Lee (Vernon Dobtcheff) as he asks Poirot (David Suchet) to come to his house at Christmas because he feels his life will be in danger when tells his family that he is changing his will. Directed by Edward Bennett and starring David Suchet, Vernon Dubtcheff, Brian Gwaspari and Philip Jackson.
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I must admit to having bought this video sight unseen. I am a big fan of David Suchet's Poirot, and had faith that I would like this film as much as the rest. Well, I was not disappointed. Perhaps even more than some, this episode kept me on the edge of my seat, guessing at who did it and what he or she would do next. Plus even though Hastings (Hugh Fraser) wasn't in it, the redoubtable Chief Inspector James Japp (Philip Jackson) was!
So, let me just say that this is a very good Poirot movie, an excellent one in fact. If you are a David Suchet/Poirot fan, then I highly recommend this movie to you.
Add to that Inspector Japp on holiday in Wales, miserable at the prospect of his in-laws singing, and only too pleased to be rescued by Poirot and a murder case. That was an interesting twist.
By the way the singing was excellent and well worth hearing.
All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable helping.
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Hercule Poirot is not a religious man, nor a particularly sentimental man. He had planned to spend a quiet Christmas holiday alone. Ms Lemon is away visiting her sister, and Hastings is seeking his fortune in South America. A day or two before the Christmas, a disagreeable and wealthy old man, used to others responding to his bidding, insists Poirot spend his holiday with him at his country estate near a small village. The old man says someone wants to kill him and he wants Poirot to find out who it is and put a stop to it.
Poirot declines the job, not only because he would prefer the comfort his own apartment and the cold damp weather outside makes the prospect of traveling unpleasant, but because he instantly dislikes the old man. However, Poirot's apartment heat fails (we see his vintage dripping radiator) and as his landlord cannot make repairs until after the holiday, Poirot is soon on a train out of town.
Poirot arrives in the little village via a vintage London train and there he meets the old man's relatives including a prodigal son and a never-seen-before granddaughter who turn out to have been Poirot's train companions. Are these children to be trusted? Why did the newly arrived son return? Can the apparently pleasant and "good" son and daughter-in-law who have been caring for the old man be trusted? Why does the old man keep a large diamond in a safe in his room? Before long, someone is dead and Poirot and a local police inspector are on the case.
This story is not the usual game of "clue" played in the big country house. In a preview scene, a pair of young men have been shown sitting before a campfire somewhere in Africa discussing which of them will travel to town to register a diamond claim. Disaster strikes and before long one man is dead and the other dying. The dying young man is rescued by a less than beautiful woman whom he later seduces and abandons.
Of course the survivor from Africa is the nasty old man with the fortune who has engaged Poirot to protect him, but how does his past figure into the current plot--or does it? The wily Christie has been known to drop a red herring or two along the way.
The mystery takes place in a snowy village from a Currier and Ives print. Poirot stays at a local inn (where he picks up an invaluable clue) where one can almost feel the warm fire in the old fireplace, hear the crackling pine cones, and smell the lovely Christmas greenery and plum pudding. A sweet exchange of sentiments and gifts takes place between Poirot and Japp (who is called in when the local police cannot solve the crime). A vicarious thrill for Anglophiles.
David Suchet is an excellent Poirot.
I haven't watched the dvd yet but I have no readon to think it would be anything other than great
It is this easy humor which makes this particular mystery entertaining given the dark backdrop in which the events take place. The focus rests on an aged patriarch, Simeon Lee (Vernon Dobtcheff), a greedy and sadistic man, whose intention to alter his will during the Christmas season leads to his violent death. Scattered throughout Gorston Hall remain his extended family and servants, all possible suspects in another example of a locked room mystery.
Mr. Exton's adaptation wisely omits several characters thereby lessening the confusion slightly. While this choice makes possible the coherence of a plot which must unfold in under two hours, I was slightly disappointed that Exton excised the clue of the `excess blood' which was significant to the novel. Although this removal does not ruin the story itself, it lessens Christie's intention, which was for her, an unusual choice.
Christie wrote Hercule Poirot's Christmas and dedicated the novel to her brother-in-law, James, with the promise of writing a tale with greater violence (and blood) given his criticism of her previous novels possessing an "antiseptic" flavor to them. By emphasizing the blood which poured forth from the hapless Simeon Lee, we readers feel a bit vindicated that a disreputable man has met with his just desserts. Recommended viewing for a cold, wintry night.