“Agatha Christie’s Poirot” The ABC Murders (1992)
Last week I re-watched The ABC Murders. Not that I needed an excuse to re-watch an episode of Poirot, but I was motivated by an article in my Agatha Christie newsletter that stated that David Suchet (Hercule Poirot actor extraordinaire) chose that novel as his pick for the World’s Favourite Christie. Yes, I voluntarily signed up to receive an Agatha Christie e-newsletter.
Unlike the tried and true locked door murder mystery that Christie is fond of (as am I), the plot of The ABC Murders has Poirot racing (by train) from town to town to try and stop a murderer who chooses his victims by their names; killing those whose last names begin with the same letter as the towns where they are killed. And at each crime scene, the murderer leaves an ABC railway guide as his calling card. Diabolical!
I think part of what I love about these Christie BBC productions is that they take place during time periods when the primary communication device is the mail and public transit is a most civilized and enjoyable option for travel. It makes for a really wonderful slow-burn, build-up mystery.
Poirot, of course, solves the case with the help of his “little grey cells”, and the wonderful supporting cast of Hugh Fraser as Captain Hastings, and Philip Jackson as Chief Inspector Japp. Sadly, Miss Lemon (played by actress Pauline Moran) was not featured in this episode.
One of my favourite scenes in this movie shows the symbiotic relationship between Poirot and Captain Hastings. The two are washing up after having the murder victims’ relatives over for tea at Poirot’s apartment (can I please move in?). Hastings washes and then hands Poirot a plate, Poirot inspects the plate and returns it to Hastings—they go back and forth with the plate 5 times during the course of their conversation! It’s a subtle yet telling scene of the magic of their relationship and why they are such good friends—Hastings doesn’t get upset, he just takes another wipe at the plate; Poirot doesn’t lecture, he just inspects and sends it back for a proper washing. It’s a sad day when Hastings marries and leaves for Argentina (Murder on the Links, Season 6, Episode 3).
Like all of the David Suchet Poirot movies, I loved this one and can’t recommend enough that you watch this NOW!
ps. Remember when Albert Finney played Poirot in the 1974 film, Murder on the Orient Express? *shudder*