Quick DVD Review – ‘Agatha Christie Collection featuring Peter Ustinov’

Hello everyone! 🙂

Welcome to ‘Bradley’s Basement’ blog and I’m Tim Bradley!

For Christmas 2020, I gave my Mum a 3-disc DVD set of an ‘Agatha Christie Collection featuring Peter Ustinov’ in his ‘classic role’ as Hercule Poirot. For my Dad, I gave him a Blu-ray edition of 2016’s ‘Pete’s Dragon’. We’ve enjoyed watching these films very much over the Christmas holidays.

My parents and I recently saw Peter Ustinov as Hercule Poirot in 1978’s ‘Death on the Nile’ and 1982’s ‘Evil Under The Sun’, featured in the ‘Agatha Christie Murder Mystery DVD collection’. We enjoyed those films and it was great to see Peter Ustinov in these unique TV films as Hercule Poriot.

I say ‘unique’ because unlike ‘Death on the Nile’ and ‘Evil Under The Sun’ which were clearly set in the 1920s, the three films in this DVD set seem to take place in the 1980s when they were made. I was baffled by that since I was wondering how Peter Ustinov as Poirot could exist in the 1980s itself.

Mind you, Peter Ustinov’s Poriot was previously portrayed by Albert Finney, I believe, for 1974’s ‘Murder on the Orient Express’. So it’s very possible that Peter Ustinov’s Poriot is a Time Lord and he travelled in a TARDIS from ‘Doctor Who’ to get from the 1920s to the 1980s. That’s my best theory. 😀

The three films featured in this ‘Agatha Christie Collection featuring Peter Ustinov’ are ‘Dead Man’s Folly’, ‘Murder in Three Acts’ and ‘Thirteen at Dinner’. All three TV films are based on certain books by Agatha Christie under different titles. I don’t think the films are in the right order in the DVD set.

I think ‘Thirteen at Dinner’ is meant to come before ‘Dead Man’s Folly’ and ‘Murder in Three Acts’ due to it being made in 1985 whereas the latter two were made in 1986. For the sake of this review, I’m going to judge the movies in the order they came in the 3-disc DVD set for the time being here. 🙂

In ‘Dead Man’s Folly’, Poirot is joined by his associate Captain Hastings when they are called in by Poirot’s eccentric mystery author friend Ariadne Oliver to be a part of a country-house game of murder that turns real. And yes, Peter Ustinov’s Poirot has Captain Hastings in these films. 😀 I don’t believe Hastings wasn’t with Ustinov’s Poirot in ‘Death on the Nile’ and ‘Evil Under The Sun’.

Jonathan Cecil, who I’ve seen in the ‘Dad’s Army’ TV episode ‘Things Go Bump In The Night’, plays Captain Hastings. The film also has Jean Stapleton as Ariadne Oliver, Constance Cummings as Amy Folliat, Tim Pigott-Smith as Sir George Stubbs, Kenneth Cranham as Detective Inspector Bland, Susan Wooldridge as Amanda Brewis, Christopher Guard as Alec Legge, Jeff Yagher as Eddie South and Nicolette Sheridan as Hattie Stubb. It’s fascinating how this TV film unveils who the true murderer is.

In the film ‘Murder in Three Acts’, Poirot and Hastings go to Acapulco, Mexico. At a party, a clergyman called Babbington dies of poisoning. Very soon, Dr. Strange (no, not that Dr. Strange from the ‘Marvel Cinematic Universe’) gets poisoned too.  Pretty soon, Poirot is hunting for the murderer.

The cast for ‘Murder in Three Acts’ includes Tony Curtis (who was in ‘The Mirror Crack’d’ with Angela Lansbury in 1980) as Charles Cartwright. There’s also Emma Samms as Jennifer ‘Egg’ Eastman, Dana Elcar as Dr. Strange, Fernando Allende as Ricardo Montoya, Pedro Armendáriz, Jr. as Colonel Mateo, Lisa Eichhorn as Cynthia Dayton, Frances Lee McCain as Miss Milray, Marian Mercer as Daisy Eastman, Diana Muldaur (who played Dr. Pulaski in ‘Star Trek: TNG’) as Angela Stafford, Nicholas Pryor as Freddie Dayton, Concetta Tomei as Janet Crisp and Philip Guilmant as Rev./Mr. Babbington.

The third film ‘Thirteen at Dinner’ has more actors in it that I recognise. The film focuses on an American film actress who becomes Scotland Yard’s prime suspect when her husband, Lord Edgware, gets murdered. What’s amusing is David Suchet guest stars in this film with Peter Ustinov!

David Suchet would later play Poirot in the ITV series. Here, he plays Inspector James Japp. The film also features Faye Dunaway as Jane Wilkinson/Carlotta Adams, Bill Nighy as Ronald Marsh, Diane Keen as Jenny Driver, John Stride as the ‘film director’, Benedict Taylor as Donald Ross, Lee Horsley as Bryan Martin. The film also has  in it. The British faces featured in this film were a treat to see here. 😀

The ‘Agatha Christie Collection featuring Peter Ustinov’ as Hercule Poirot is a very enjoyable collection of TV movies and I’m pleased my parents and I enjoyed watching them over the Christmas period in 2020-21. I’m looking forward to revisit the three TV films again soon with more depth to them. 🙂

Thanks for reading!

Bye for now!

Tim. 🙂

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