Monday, July 14, 2014


Agatha Christie's famous sleuth, Hercule Poirot, has been played by many actors, but no one has owned the role and made it his own like David Suchet.  Suchet played Poirot from the beginning of 1989 nearly to the end of 2013, and was able to dramatize all of Christie's stories about the particular Belgian sleuth and his "leetle grey cells".

I think it's safe to say that David Suchet will forever be thought of as Poirot and anyone else foolish enough to try to put his own spin on the character will be damned by comparison.  I think the only one who has dared to play Poirot since Suchet assumed the role was Alfred Molina in a modernized, truncated version of "Murder On The Orient Express".  And it was bad.

Still, there were a lot of great mysteries among the cases written by Christie that would intrigue screenwriters and directors for adaptation.  It's just the insurmountable problem of casting Poirot.

RLJ Entertainment in France has found a way around that problem: adapt the stories, but create a new detective to solve them.  And that's how "Les Petits Meurtres d'Agatha Christie" came into being.

Instead of using private detective Hercule Polrot, the central sleuth is French Police Superintendent Jean Larosiere (played by Antoine DulĂ©ry).  Larosiere is a man of passion with an eye to the ladies and a fondness for drink.  He's hardly fastidious like Poirot - he looks more like a Gallic Bob Hoskins.

So far, I've only seen one of these French Christie adaptations - "Les Meurtres ABC", which as you can O'Bviously tell, was based on "The ABC Murders".  (This was one of the first movie adaptations for Hercule Poirot, with Tony Randall playing the Belgie.)  The story remains basically the same, with different names for all of the characters (although the central suspect of Cust has a close adaptation into Custe.)

I think both stories can remain in Earth Prime-Time.  Toobworld by its very nature has a rerun sensibility and and certain situations replay themselves over and over again around the globe.  But strangely enough, I think we have to accept that the French version happened before Poirot's case, by only a few years.

Mention is made of Germany's lunatic chancellor and his Gestapo.  Hitler became chancellor in 1933 and then declared himself as dictator the following year.  The novel by Agatha Christie was published in 1936 and I think that would be the right year in which Poirot solved his similar case.

Poirot may have heard about Larosiere's case, but more than likely - because of the relationships between France and England, and a limited source for global communication, it may have slipped his notice.  But the true killer in Poirot's case would have seen the news reports and recognized a similarity in both of their situations.  The killer would then plan accordingly to take inspiration from the previous string of murders.

By the way, it was not only with the characters that the French production took liberties.  They also added a sensibility at which Dame Agatha would only have hinted, at best.....

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

There are more adaptations in store:
  • "Sad Cypress"
  • "Cat Among The Pigeons"
  • "Ordeal By Innocence"
  • "Peril At End House"
  • "The Body In The Library"
And one story based on a Miss Marple story with a Commissioner Laurence in place of the old lady from St. Mary's Mead.


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