Perhaps you have had a chance to see the trailer for Kenneth Branagh’s third (and possibly final?) Hercule Poirot film, A Haunting in Venice

Perhaps it . . . confused you in a way that his previous films, Murder on the Orient Express and Death on the Nile did not. For despite the fact that Branagh’s Poirot sports a moustache the size of a small Balkan nation and has enough pep to chase suspects in the snow, his MotOE is essentially the MotOE we all grew up with. And despite the fact that M. Bouc jumps off the train and lands in Egypt where he commits Tim Allerton’s crimes and suffers Salome Otterbourne’s fate – at least, the fate of Mrs. Otterbourne from the novel because the one in the film is a gorgeous jazz singer who captures Poirot’s heart and causes him to shave off his moustache – when all that smoke and mirrors clears, we still have the basic story of Linnet Doyle’s murder almost/just as we remember it. 

We have been told that A Haunting in Venice is based on Agatha Christie’s late Poirot novel, Hallowe’en Party. True, I don’t remember that book taking place in Venice. Nor do I remember the séance, but that might explain why I recalled Joyce Reynolds as a little girl and not the medium played by Michelle Yeoh. That’s okay: there is a little girl in the film . . . only it appears to be Samara from The Ring. Well, I’ve been reading Christie for a loooong time, and memory plays tricks on you. 

Sorry to disappoint any of you who came here for a Branagh-bashing exercise. I’m actually quite excited to see Haunting. The trailer is exciting, and it will at the very least provide an opportunity for conversation. Plus, let’s face it: Hallowe’en Party is a novel that could use some sprucing up. 

But it got me to thinking about adaptations. Back in 2016, I managed to get a hold of the first season of the French TV series adapted from Christie’s novels. It was called Les Petits Meurtres D’Agatha Christie (The Little Murders of Agatha Christie) and I gave it quite the pan. Here’s the thing, though: I have come around a lot in terms of my feelings about Christie adaptations. I’m putting aside the knee-jerk reactions of the purist and trying to discover, both as a student of the author and of the medium of film itself, the intent and purpose of the adaptations that arrive on our screens.

This means that there’s more Christie au franchise to watch. After the first series, set in the 1930s, the producers move the setting to the 1950s and introduced a new cast. The handsome police Commissaire Swan Laurence (Samuel Labarthe), his Monroe-esque secretary Marlene (Elodie French), and klutzy but intrepid (but really klutzy) reporter Alice Avril (Blandine Bellavoir), who all became the Poirot, Marple, or Tommy et Tuppence of these histoires! This incarnation lasted several seasons, and then the series was again moved in time to the 1970’s, with a completely different set of characters, and it is evidently still going strong.

Unfortunately, I can’t get a hold of this last series without subscribing to yet another streaming service, but the 1950s episodes are all available on hoopla, and I thought I would watch them. But this time I’m viewing them with a more tolerant eye! Granted, there was one episode included in the previous collection I bought that was based on They Do It with Mirrors. Lots of sex, gratuitous and non-funny humor centered around Alice (did I mention how clumsy she was?), oh, and a completely different murderer from the novel . . . I was not amused. This time, however, I’m going to be better, I swear!!!

Meanwhile, I thought it might be fun for us to play a game. There were 26 episodes available of the 50s-based series. I’m going to give you the blurbs for fifteen of them, listed in order of their airing on French TV. Beside them, I’m going to lay down fifteen titles of Christie novels. Your job is to match the episode with the correct Christie title. Sometimes it will be obvious, and sometimes a word or phrase will provide you with a subtle clue. To make things easier – or at least more fun – if the episode title does not match the novel’s title, I have included it; there are actually a couple of clues there that will help you. Granted, you have an advantage if you are really familiar with your Christie, but even I have to admit that some of this will take sheer guessing and the process of elimination. Put your answers in the comments below . . . IF YOU DARE!!!!

Bon chance!

A famous movie star commits suicide before finishing her latest film, but chief inspector Laurence is convinced that she was murdered.
a.Hallowe’en Party  
2. Murder at the Kermesse
Chief inspector Laurence is left temporarily blind after a gun fight, but is determined to still solve the case of a drowned child.
b. The Pale Horse 
3. ???
Chief inspector Laurence and Alice Avril are invited to a special dinner, involving unsolved crimes and a mysterious host.
c. A Caribbean Mystery 
4. Crime Does Not Pay
Avril Goes undercover in a cabaret where a missing waitress worked, while Chief inspector Laurence deals with an internal police investigation.
d. Evil Under the Sun 
5. ???
Avril goes undercover to help Inspector Laurence investigate a string of deaths at a textile factory.
e. Murder Is Easy 
6. ???
Inspector Laurence investigates whether the death of Alice’s young heiress friend is related to occult powers.
f. The Murder at the Vicarage 
7. The Protheroe Affair
After a young secretary hangs herself, Laurence suspects sinister forces led to her death.
g. Three-Act Tragedy 
8. ???
Laurence and Avril investigate a wealthy spa owner after a man drowns in her establishment. 
h. Sparkling Cyanide 
9. Albert Major Talks Too Much
Avril investigates a murder in a hospital while she’s admitted for her own injuries.
i. The Sittaford Mystery 
10. ???
Inspector Laurence goes undercover as a female secretary for the French Secret Service. (You read that correctly!)
j. Cards on the Table 
11. ???
Investigating a murder becomes complicated for Inspector Laurence as he mourns his own loss.
k. The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side 
12. ???
Murder befalls Alice’s acting class, which features a guest teacher who looks exactly like Inspector Laurence.
l. Hercule Poirot’s Christmas 
13. Murders for Sale
Avril is attacked and struggles with amnesia while working on an article.
m. Murder on the Links 
14. Murderous Melodies
Alice goes undercover as a teenybop backup singer.
n. The Mysterious Affair at Styles 
15. A Crazy Case
Laurence admits himself to a psych ward to investigate a murder.
o. The Man in the Brown Suit 


  1. Starting with those I’m sure about:

    2. Halloween Party
    3. should be Cards on the Table
    6. The Pale Horse
    7. Given the episode title, it’s probably Murder at the Vicarage
    9. Carribean Mystery (a major who talks to much)

    Now the somewhat informed guesses

    10. Man in the Brown Suit (it features a man disguised as a female secretary as well)
    12. Three Act Tragedy (the Acting class gave me the idea)

    Wilder guesses

    1. My first idea was Evil Under the Sun, but it could be Sparkling Cyanide as well, if they made Rosemary an actress. I’ll go with Sparkling Cyanide, a suicide was never a possibility in Evil under the Sun, after all.
    5. A string of death = Easy to kill???

    I give up regarding the rest.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. 1. Mirror Crack’d
    2. Halloween Party
    3. Cards on the Table
    4. Sparkling Cyanide
    5. Murder on the Links
    6. Sittaford Mystery
    7. Murder at the Vicarage
    8. Evil Under the Sun
    9. A Caribbean Mystery
    10. The Man in the Brown Suit
    11. Murder is Easy
    12. Three Act Tragedy
    13. Pale Horse
    14. Murder on the Links
    15. Hercule Poirot’s Christmas

    I’m confident on at most half of them, fairly certain on a couple more, and most are pure guesses/process of elimination.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Easy:

    1. The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side
    2. Hallowe’en Party
    3. Cards on the Table
    4. Sparkling Cyanide
    5. Murder Is Easy
    6. The Sittaford Mystery
    7. The Murder at the Vicarage
    8. Evil Under the Sun
    9. The Mysterious Affair at Styles
    10. The Man in the Brown Suit
    11. Murder on the Links
    12. Hercule Poirot’s Christmas
    13.The Pale Horse
    14. Murder on the Links
    15. Three-Act Tragedy

    Mostly wild guesses, but I did feel a sense of foolish optimism when the last pair I had left seemed to fit.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. a) Hallowe’en Party: 2
    b) The Pale Horse: 13
    c) A Caribbean Mystery: 9
    d) Evil Under the Sun: 15
    e) Murder is Easy: 5
    f) The Murder at the Vicarage: 7
    g) Three-Act Tragedy: 12
    h) Sparkling Cyanide: 1
    i) The Sittaford Mystery: 6
    j) Cads on the Table: 3
    k) The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side: 14
    l) Hercule Poirot’s Christmas: 11
    m) Murder on the Links: 4
    n) The Mysterious Affair at Styles: 8
    o) The Man in the Brown Suit: 10


  5. I listened to a couple of Francophone radio adaptations of Agatha Christie this week, which are much more faithful. A few changes: they condense the novels into an hour or so, and eliminate a few characters.

    Le miroir se brisa (The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side) (Miss Marple is more arch than in the books; the secretary is an adopted daughter; and the name “Heather” turns out to be difficult to pronounce)
    Le Noël d’Hercule Poirot (no Pilar or Stephen Farr; Tressillian has a more interesting relationship with old Simon Lawrence)
    Témoin à charge (Witness for the Prosecution)
    La Plume empoisonnée (The Moving Finger)
    Dix petits nègres (1973)



  6. I once thought that if we were to get a dramatization of Carr’s works, they should feel free to change the detective, as long as they kept the mystery and the solution. Not sure I feel the same way today, but it seems like this is something along the lines of what the French series did. Whether Branagh is doing that, or if he is keeping nothing about the book is something I guess that remains for viewers to discover.


  7. I am definitely with you regarding the Branagh versions and as long as they work on their own terms quite enjoy adaptations that stray a bit from the source (which discounts most but not all of the recent MARPLE episodes). This is going go take some serious thinking. Time for some sirop de cassis methinks …


  8. 1. h Sparkling Cyanide
    2. a Halloween Party
    3. j Cards on the Table
    4. m Murder on the Links
    5. e Murder Is Easy
    6. b The Pale Horse
    7. f The Murder at the Vicarage
    8. n The Mysterious Affair at Styles
    9. c A Caribbean Mystery
    10. o The Man in the Brown Suit
    11. k The Mirror Cracked from Side to Side
    12. g Three-Act Tragedy
    13. l Hercule Poirot’s Christmas
    14. i The Sittaford Mystery
    15. d Evil Under The Sun


  9. But seriously though, WTF is with that trailer? I guess it’s only a trailer, and I’m fine with changes to an extent, but that seems to bear no resemblance whatsoever to Halloween Party, so why even call it that?


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