Movie Poll: What’s the Best Agatha Christie Film Adaptation?

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  • Tito Pannaggi

    Margaret Rutherford is Miss Marple, the same way as David Suchet is Hercule Poirot. All the others are not worth mentioning. Peter Ustinov is often a superb actor, but he never was Poirot. I have nothing against Joan Hickson, but she never was Miss Marple. Imagine Clint eastwood as Hopalong Cassidy. There are some roles that never can be replaced, and Margaret Rutherford and David Suchet are that kind of an actor.

    • Baz

      I agree that David Suchet and Margaret Rutherford have done the best job, but it is rather funny, because whilst Suchet is exactly as Poirot is described in the books, Miss Marple is depicted in the books as a small, perhaps slightly frail looking lady… which Margaret Rutherford certainly wasn’t!! However, MR certainly ‘became Miss Marple!

      • Gord Jackson

        Sorry, it is DEFINITELY Joan Hickson for me. Also, if memory serves me right, Miss Agatha was appalled with Rutherford’s take on her creation. That said, I do like MR, but I don’t think she was much of a Miss Marple, just a great character creation who happened to also be named Jane Marple.

        • Sheryl Jones

          I agree that Margaret Rutherford was definitely the best Miss Marple. And David Suchet seemed to capture Poirot so well that when I saw him in another movie, I was shocked. It took me 1/3 of the movie to realize that it was really him. I kept looking for the moustache and the hat.

    • Tim

      I agree! Something of a side note here…it’s hard for me to think of Miss Marple without a nod to Inspector Craddock, played by “Charles (Bud) Tingwell. A very distinguished actor in his own right.

    • Cary Piedra

      I can not picture Miss Marple without Margaret R.

    • Gayle Feyrer

      Margaret Rutherford is a lot of fun, but feels nothing like the character in the book. The best Marple was in the Mystery series from the 90s I think it was.

    • Rosemary

      I think Geraldine McEwen portrayed Miss Marple the way Christie wrote this small, rather shy, “pink fluffy” unassuming character, always thinking and putting the pieces together without bring attention to herself. Margaret Rutherford is a lot of fun on the screen but is not physically as written in the books and is a little more brash and outgoing than I imagine Miss Marple to be.

    • Adelaide Abdur-Rahman

      Peter Ustinov’s “Evil Under the Sun” is worth watching just for the music and fashions

  • Cynthia LaRochelle

    This was really tough, I love all. But I chose Orient Express 1st and Death on Nile 2nd. Witness, and None. What a great writer.

  • Rick

    The question is like asking what would you rather have gold, platinum, or diamonds. Yes, some are a little better than others, but I take them all.

    • Gayle

      Thank you for your illustration of PLATINUM, GOLD AND DIAMONDS: seems it depends WHEN you saw the particular actors do their interpretations as to which you like best: each had good stuff to show!

  • kathy james

    I love them all! While I agree with Suchet and Rutherford as the best, I think the 1945 adaption of Then There Were None is more true to Christie.

  • Diane

    David Suchet is without question the best Poitot. I do think Joan Hickson was a better Miss Marple.

  • Enrique Bird-Picó

    “And Then There Were None”, “Witness for the Prosecution” and “Murder on the Orient Express” are clearly best. “Murder Ahoy” was not an adaptation but an original screenplay. And Margaret Rutherford is almost totally contrary to Miss Marple as described in the novels and short stories – we should not let her fame and the fact that she was the first obscure that. Angela Lansbury in “The Mirror Cracked” was much more like the Miss Marple of the books, though far from ideal. By the way, the worst adaptation is by far “The Alphabet Murders”.

  • Stephen Farris

    Orient…hands down. Almost a 2-1 favorite ahead of #2.

  • Dan Walker

    I have to say the best adaptations were with Joan Hickson and David Suchet. Joan was the best Miss Marple and just like the character in the books.

    • Gayle Feyrer

      Thanks – I could only remember her first name. Helen Hayes looked the closest to the Marple I see in my head, but Joan Hickson’s was the best performance, and the series the most sophisticated presentation of the stories.

  • Tim

    Personally, I’ve always been a fan of “Witness for the Prosecution”. Can never forget Laughton’s monocle test..*L*

    • Cary Piedra

      Laughton unforgettable actingin this film and why not?… nice to see Marlene once more.

      • Tim

        Absolutely! Love Dietrich!

        • tangomann

          Yes, yes!

    • Adelaide Abdur-Rahman

      This is one movie that held your attention literally to the last scene

  • Tamazon

    And Then There Was Agatha… I read And Then There Were None in 5th grade and was immediately hooked on Agatha Christie. I’ve preferred that movie above all the others because of it… I remember holding my breath as I read feverishly to see who “gets it” next, then being glued to the screen when they showed the movie on UHF (though I already knew how it turned out!)

  • David Pierce

    And then there where none – has always been my favorite. Because of that film – I have seen about half of the others in hopes that aneither good Agatha Christie film has been made.

    That says a lot about a story.

  • Gary Vidmar

    Finney was fantastic, and Lumet’s MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS was the highwater mark for Agatha Christie at the movies. No small mention should be made of Richard Rodney Bennett’s brilliant music score for that one.

  • KarenG

    Witness for the Prosecution was outstanding, with Charles Laughton in his best role, in my opinion, Elsa Lancaster playing his fussy nurse, Tyrone Power, and Marlena Dietrich amazing as the Witness.

    I love the old Miss Marples with Margaret Rutherford, though I do think Joan Hickson is a more true Marple. But no one can compare to David Suchet as Poirot, so none of the movie Poirots do anything for me.

  • Joy

    For me Margaret Rutherford will always be Miss Marple….Always!

  • Laura B.

    Though I LOVED all the Margaret Rutherford movies, it’s been a while since I’ve seen them (though I do have the boxed set), so I couldn’t really distinguish between them. I chose Death on the Nile, as I adore Peter Ustinov in pretty much everything. I really like Albert Finney, but I thought he was just ok as Poirot. Finney has had some really great films but I don’t consider Orient Express to be one of them.

  • Rob in L.A.

    Sidney Lumet’s “Murder on the Orient Express” was released in 1974, not 1975. After all, Ingrid Bergman won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for that year’s films for her role in the movie. For 1975, the award went to Lee Grant for “Shampoo.”

  • Publius

    I write from memory: It was when my parents took me to see MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS in 1975 that I became a huge Agatha Christie/Hercule Poirot fan. I loved the film because I thought Albert Finney climbed into the role of Poirot as no other actor. I agree that Peter Ustinov is a great character actor, but he was not Poirot; just as Jeremy Brett WAS Sherlock Holmes–hands down. I understand why Mr. Finney did not want to be typecast, but I hoped against hope that he would take up the role again. The camera work was stunning, and the music was superb! It took me a long time to accept David Suchet in the role, and now, with time he has made me feel more comfortable because he doesn’t play it for laughs. This movie led me to read Miss Christie’s entire literary output, and it was her influence that made me decide to be a writer. My study in Journalism, writing and teaching were all a direct result of seeing this motion picture. I rather liked Joan Hickson as Miss Marple because she was more close to the way Agatha described her in the books. Margaret Rutherford gave a good comic interpretation of the role that has lasted for quite awhile, but Agatha hated the MGM series because the plots were all recycled into a bunch of golash. I thought the sequels were fine after MURDER, and I always thought the producers got it right with DEATH ON THE NILE; although, in my opinion, they needed Finney’s portrayal to give the film a fine polish. AND THEN THERE WERE NONE was missing something; the drama and the psychology, which was always talked about in the novel, was toned down for the audience, but that is why we went to see the movie in the first place! My favorite of all the Poirot novels was THE A.B.C. MURDERS. I tried to put it into a radio version and failed; instead I wrote my own mystery, and got a pretty good response. I never saw Tony Randells THE ALPHABET MURDERS. However, Mr,. Randall resurrected the character a little on the old ODD COUPLE series when he played Felix Unger’s father in a flashback sequence. I always wanted someone to re-make THE A.B.C. MURDERS, and also for someone to re-make Agatha’s first play which features Poirot. As I understand it, the play was filmed way back in 1929 and has never been revived or shown since. It also would be nice for some producer to make RODGER ACKROYD into a motion picture; of course, it depends on the casting.

  • Gwen

    margaret rutherford was WAY too flamboyant. i had to view those movies as good fun but not really as agatha christie had originally intended.

  • Trippy Trellis

    “People can be so peculiar about a spot of murder.” One of the many witty lines in “Evil Under the Sun” that, even though Agatha didn’t write, make this the most scintillating Christie movie of them all. Based loosely in one of her few minor efforts, this movie boasts: the best Poirot (Ustinov, hands down), a wonderful cast including the great Maggie Smith at her most sparkling, a beautiful location and the most de-lovely music soundtrack of all time.

    • Gil

      Trippy – I couldn’t agree with you more. However, I love “Witness” and “Mirror Cracked” as well but “Evil under the Sun” had it ALL. Perfect casting, location, and music!

  • KevinS

    My favorite has always been And Then There Were None. The first Christie I read was The Murder Of Roger Ackroyd and I have since read all the novels. She has used every twist imaginable and I love her to death. In fact, I just re-read The Mousetrap and Other Plays, some great stuff. A movie of “Ackroyd” would be dynamite (most to those who don’t know the ending) and should be told from the doctor’s point of view as in the book. I like Peter Ustinov and I found those films fairly faithful and entertaining. I never did get into “Orient Express”. I didn’t like it. Not sure why. I’d love to see some of her plays revived, maybe the Utah Shakespeare Festival? They did The Mousetrap two years ago and it was fantastic! I’d love to see The Verdict performed.

    • Wade Wallace

      There was a movie of “The Murder of Roger Ackroyd” made. Can’t tell you the year, but I believe it was British made. I looked up in Leonard Maltin’s book but he doesn’t list it.

  • Lorraine M.

    Like so many others I chose “Murder on the Orient Express,” the finest film adaptation of any Christie novel. Not only did it look and sound beautiful and was/is properly suspenseful, the casting was brilliant and fun, certainly one of the best “all-star” productions ever (“Death on the Nile” is a close second there).

    As to who is the best Miss Marple–that may come down to the mood I’m in. The witty ’60s offerings starring the great Margaret Rutherford always makes me smile, she plays Marple with such comic verve, and for a time I couldn’t imagine anyone else in the role. But I really came to appreciate Joan Hickson’s reserved and thoughtful reading of the character, and the way her unassuming presence blended into the dramatic landscape of the story rather than dominating it.

    Sorry–I know it’s a bit off-topic, but I can’t help wondering what everyone’s all-star dream cast would be for a 2012 remake or update of any of these films?

  • Gord Jackson

    For me, David Suchett is Poirot with Phillip Jackson’s chief inspector a wonderful foil. Neither Albert Finney in “Murcder on the Orient Express” or Peter Ustinov in any of the other Poirot films he made did much for me, great actors thos they be.

    My favourite Christie movie will always be “Witness or the Prosecution” giving us Charles Laughton, Elsa Lanchester and Marlene Dietrich at their best, with Ty Power barely tolerable.

    • Anne Jennings

      Well, Tyrone Power was barely tolerable in just about everything he did.

  • Juanita Curtis

    I had to pick Witness for the Prosecution being a huge fan of Tyrone Power . I remember enjoying Margaret Rutherfords take on Miss Marple as a student especially in Murder at the Gallop.

  • Rachida Djebel

    McEwen is the quintessential Miss Marple. with Hickson a good understudy; Suchet is the quintessential Poirot with no one,so far, to be a good understudy. All are Brits as they should be to portray Dame Agatha’s wonderful sleuths!

  • Rachida Djebel

    The best screen adaptation of a Dame Agatha who-done-it has to have been Witness for the Prosecution with the sterling cast of Laughton, Lanceshire, Deitrich and Power! What a fantastic ensemble that was. They just don;t make quality movies like that anymore.

  • MikeyK

    “Wanna kiss me, Ducky?”

  • dale

    i don’t know who comes up with these “best of” lists, but he shouldn’t quit his day job. this list is unimpressive, to many post 1970 american productions. americans seem to think they don’t move fast enough and there’s no car chases or explosions. witness for the prosecution (i assume with laughton and dietrich) is pretty good, as is and then there were none. i can think of 2 other’s starring james warwick, why didn’t they ask evans? and the ten dials mystery which are head and shoulders above most of this list.

  • Jack Jones

    I had to see “Witness” many times before I could definitely recognize Dietrich as the Cockney. And even now I’m not sure. She was superb in that scene. For scenery and music (Cole Porter) “Evil Under the Sun” is hard to beat. A half-dozen more and I’ll have read all the Christie novels. Saw “Black Coffee” on the stage.

  • Nils Goering

    Margaret Rutherford came closer to resembling Agatha Christie herself rather than the fictional Miss Marple. Geraldine McKewan has come closest to being the quintessential Miss Marple as depicted in the mystery novels.

    WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION leads the pack as the best AC movie adaptation. Charles Laughton should have snagged another oscar for his role. Elsa Lanchester (his real life wife)for supporting actress. Billy Wilder struck gold again!

  • Ktwo

    From the list I chose Murder on the Orient Express but must admit a fondness for Death on the Nile. However, my all-time favorite is one not mentioned: THE MAN IN THE BROWN SUIT. It was a made-for-tv movie in 1989…with an all star cast.

  • joylesstreet

    Fun quiz, great comments! I think Murder on the Orient Express was the best, but I voted for Murder She Said because I adore Margaret Rutherford’s Miss Marple, altho I agree Joan Hickson comes closest to Christie’s Marple in the books. Witness for the Prosecution was also amazing, agree w/all the comments re: Dietrich, Laughton, Power, and don’t forget Elsa Lanchester, Laughton’s wife. The only adaptation I did not like was the ABC Murders. And I much prefer David Suchet’s Poirot to Albert Finney’s or Peter Ustinov’s portrayals; still they are great fun to watch. Keep the quizzes coming.

  • Wade Wallace

    I think that the best adaptation of an Agatha Christie Mystery was “The Murder of Roger Ackroid.

  • DIRK

    Orient Express really set the benchmark to hit, but Death On The Nile made perfect sense out of a rather complicated plot with the double twists and triple crosses, plus the extreme split second timing necessary to the crimes (!!!) that was somewhat difficult to understand (i.e. picture in your head) in the novel — so thats where my vote went.  I was never keen on Ustinov’s portrayal of Poirot (once again with Finneys perfection to detail — and even Tony Randalls similar look), but in Evil Under the Sun, the scene where Ustinov takes his Poirot swimming (barely touching the water) is the most hysterical moment committed to the screen in many years; watch him clear the water out of his ears after his “dip”!!!!!! So funny!

  • Antone

    And Then There Were None is the most entertaining of the Christie adaptations. There is no super sleuth like Poirot or Miss Marple on hand to tie up the loose ends and solve the mystery. It is unique in that the potential victims themselves must solve the mystery to survive. This format also encourages the audience to try to reach their own solution. The later version, Ten Little Indians, has a much weaker cast.

    If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, this must be a classic. The basic format of strangers being thrown together in isolated places and murdered one-by-one has been ripped off countless times.