Making Movies Out of Books


A more uneven treatment of anyone’s work would be hard to find.   Adaptations of works with Poirot starring David Suchet began in 1989 and continued until last year.   Throughout the series, I think Suchet is flawless, the clothes and locations are terrific.  The actors are excellent.   And the early scripts are, I believe, all good.   But then, you get to an episode such as Appointment with Death, where apparently the producers spent too much time smoking a hookah and decided what the novel needed was to be changed almost entirely.    Hell, what does Christie know about writing a mystery?   A simple overdose?   Forget it!    We need a far more elaborate set up with a paralyzing drug, a wax ball full of goat’s blood and finally a stabbing which fortunately wound up covering the husband in blood, but not the stabber.   All this fooled the doctor into thinking she’d been dead an hour instead of seconds.   This is a terrible, terrible adaptation.   

Which makes me sad because Tim Curry’s in it and John Hannah.   Tim Curry’s looking for the head of John the Baptist.   Which he apparently finds, though how he knows it’s J the B, isn’t clear.   Oh, and Mycroft Holmes plays his son.   Neither of these characters was in the book. [Oh, I’m wrong — apparently Mycroft was Lennox in the book.  Mrs. Boynton’s son who was married.] This is more dross presumably from the freewheeling imagination of Guy Andrews who wrote the screenplay.   There’s also a slave-trading nun.   Oh, it’s a grand story.   If you like your mysteries gone off the deep end, this one’s for you.   I can’t quite understand how the actors managed to do such a good job with such an utter mess of a story.  

Who made these decisions?   I want an apology and a complete re-shoot.