Monday, July 12, 2010

Deeper & Darker

Murder on the Orient Express, by Dame Agatha Christie, is reincarnated in the new PBS Masterpiece Mystery production that aired last night.
I usually tape these shows and watch them the next day, but not last night, Josephine!
From the first scenes of Hercule Poirot, slimmer of body and heavier of mood, declaring his principles on law and justice, immediately after which the perpetrator shoots himself in the head splashing Poirot's face with drops of blood, to the scenes of Poirot on the train struggling with what is right action and what is true justice, I was riveted!
Having seen the 1974 star-studded version, I thought I remembered the story quite well, and who the murderer was.  But this new production was so dark, and Poirot was so haunted that it felt like a whole different story.
Have we ever seen Poirot pray?  Did we ever know he was Catholic?  This one scene took Poirot, and me right with him, to such deep levels. Territory we have not traveled together.  And it was thrilling!
I realized toward the end that I had not remembered who the murderer was.  Shock hit me all over again upon learning the truth.  The exquisite cast and direction managed to bring each character to new life, not enslaved by the iconic performances in the earlier famous film.
I have watched many, many Christie mysteries and read others.  This crime is more brutal than all those put together.  Her stories draw me particularly because of the lack of brutality and gore, focusing on the psychological and motivational aspects of her characters and the superb drawing of her sleuths Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple.  After last night I want to know what was going on in Agatha Christie's life at the time she wrote Murder on the Orient Express?  Why the sharp turn to such a brutal crime?
The last scene in the film, which I won't reveal in case you haven't seen it yet, shows a part of Poirot that we have never seen before, that maybe he has never seen before, and it moved me to tears.
The film will be repeated maybe two times on PBS this week.  Check your guide or go to for the listings.  DON'T MISS IT!!

Love and mystery,

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Agatha's Best

David Suchet on the Orient Express...did ya see it?  Last night on PBS?  Wow!  What a fabulous trip, not only on the famed luxury train but also into David Suchet the man.  
For those of you who don't know who David is, let me be the one!  He is an English actor who has become the most exquisite, eccentric, and compelling embodiment of Agatha Christie's legendary private detective Hercule Poirot.  
Along the journey, we are treated to the pianist in the bar car tinkling out the theme from the Hercule Poirot Mysteries on TV, Suchet entering the room to his music.  Regarding Poirot, Suchet says that he would have loved being on this train to observe.  "He is a great observer."  And Suchet mid-word slips from his velvety baritone voice, "He works with-" into the more pinched, breathy tones of Poirot, "-the psychology. Ah! The details, always the lit-tle details, the truth, the facts, Hastings, the facts..."gently pointing his finger to the ceiling for emphasis and breaking into a smile of sheer joy in the character.  And with a twinkle in his eye that betrays a mixture of pride and awe, Suchet says of Poirot,  "He's extraordinary."
The train itself and the journey are mesmerizing.  If you missed the show, it will be repeated Thursday 7/8 at 3 am and Sunday 7/11 at 3 pm.  These are Mountain Time hours.
Of course, all this is a prelude to the first of three Poirots on Masterpiece Mystery this season, which begin on Sunday 7/11 at 9 pm with none other than Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express!
A brand new production starring David Suchet.  Remember the 1974 movie?  Albert Finney as a blustery, snorting, cartoon portrayal of Poirot.  The rest of the cast, of course, was exceptional: Ingrid Bergman in an Oscar-winning role, Richard Widmark, Lauren Bacall, Vanessa Redgrave, Wendy Hiller, Sean Connery, John Gielgud, a very young Jacqueline Bisset, and Michael York, directed by Sidney Lumet.  
This PBS production with Suchet at the helm aided by Dame Eileen Atkins, Barbara Hershey, Hugh Bonneville, David Morissey, and Toby Jones, I am sure will at the very least match the intensity of the film, and, I bet you, bring depth, breadth, and that undefinable but oh, so recognizable THING that puts the MASTERPIECE  in Masterpiece Mystery and Theater.  Don't miss it!
On a more high-desert note: took an early walk alone this morning to find a bobcat/lynx sunning itself on my neighbor's low stucco wall!  I greeted it; it looked at me; I blessed it; it looked at me.  Found out on the way back that my neighbor's cat had been lounging on lead on the patio at the same time the lynx was sunning on the ledge!  Wow!  Guess the lynx had already had breakfast.  Maybe they were having a catty conversation?  My neighbor got her feline in safe and sound but was still a bit rattled when I saw her on the way back.  Oooooweeee!  Life in the wild!
All for now.
Love and Poirot!!