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Announcing the Agatha Christie Blogathon!

AgathaChristieLittle Bits of Classics and I are thrilled and excited to announce the Agatha Christie Blogathon – The Queen of Crime!

When? 

September 16th-18th

Why?

The inspiration for this blogathon is Domi’s of Little Bits of Classics. It is in honor of Agatha Christie’s 126th birthday on the 15th of September.

Rules

All things Agatha Christie are welcome! Anything and everything – her life, her writing style, her characters, her books, the movie adaptations of her books, tributes, retrospections – the more the better! We want to honor everything about the great lady.

The only rules we have are that we are Not Allowing Duplicates on individual Books because there are so many we hope to see covered. There are quite a few movies, too, so we thought we would put a limit of Two Posts Per Movie. However, there is no limit on how many posts can be written about Agatha Christie, her life or her characters. And if you want to compare a book with a movie, even though someone’s already chosen that movie or book singly, that’s great, too!

At the end of each day of the blogathon, either I or Little Bits of Classics will collect all the posts of the day in a recap. To send us your posts on those days you can give us the link to your post, along with your blog name, in the comments section of this post or via twitter (@_cwehner).

Little Bits of Classics and I really want to thank Ruth at Silver Screenings for creating the wonderful banners for this event! Please feel free to take one – which can be found at the bottom of this post – and help us promote.

Sign-Up

You can sign-up using the form below. Each day of the blogathon is dedicated to a different topic.

Friday the 16th – all things Hercule Poirot

Saturday the 17th – all things Miss Marple

Sunday the 18th – all the rest, including Agatha Christie or any other novels or movies not related to Poirot or Miss Marple.

If your chosen topic covers both Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot, feel free to choose whatever day you like. Also, we’ve provided a definition of your topic in the sign-up sheet. The purpose is to help distinguish if someone has elected to write, for example, about Witness for the Prosecution the movie, the play or the short story. That way, if you check the roster, you can see that though someone has perhaps chosen to write about the movie, the play is still open.

Also, please note that the Year of Release option on the sign-up form is for movies. That option is there to help in case of multiple adaptations of the same story. Like Murder on the Orient Express. Though we are not allowing multiple posts on individual movies, there are still several movie adaptations of that book.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact either Little Bits of Classics or me. We can’t wait to read all your contributions in September!

 

Below is the roster for the blogathon so far. To view it in full, click here.

 

Fiction Fan’s Book Reviews – 4:50 From Paddington and Murder, She Said

Phyllis Loves Classic Movies And The There Were None

Critica Retro – Death On the Nile

Caftan Woman – Evil Under the Sun

M.C. Dulac – Death on the Nile

The Dream Book Blog – Poirot Series: “Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case”

Cleopatra Loves Books – Murder at the Vicarage

Old Hollywood Films – An Overview of Margaret Rutherford’s Miss Marple

Serendipitous Anachronisms – The Mousetrap (play)

Silver Scenes  A Caribbean Mystery and Murder is Easy

Ah Sweet Mystery of Life After the Funeral

 

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Posted by on June 30, 2016 in Books, Movies

 

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Murder On the Orient Express (1974)

Murder-on-the-Orient-Express-1974“It’s like Clue on a train,” is how my aunt described Murder On the Orient Express during a family birthday party this weekend. After the party, we watched it at her house. I had seen it before, quite a few years ago, and so had my aunt, but it was new for my cousin. He said he liked it, though he thought there were a lot of useless shots of the train riding through the scenery.th1J7428RX

Excessive train shots don’t bother me, though. I like watching trains move through scenery and it adds a sense of ambience to the murder mystery that is taking place within the train, while outside the train becomes stopped, blocked by a snow drift. Snow outside, murder within, makes for a cozy feeling.

The famed detective, Hercule Poirot (Albert Finney) is returning from Turkey to London on board the Orient Express. Unusually for the time of year, the entire train is filled up with passengers – eccentric passengers from all classes and ages. There is the Princess Dragomiroff, a British Colonel, a governess, used car salesman, a middle-aged and middle class American who won’t stop talking, a missionary, a Hungarian ambassador and his wife, etc., and a malevolent and very wealthy man named Ratchett, who tries to hire Poirot to protect him from whoever is writing him anonymous death threats.

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Albert Finney as Hercule Poirot

Poirot refuses to take the case – he doesn’t take many cases anymore and he doesn’t like Mr. Ratchett – but that night Ratchett is murdered in his bed. The train is blocked by a snowdrift and the man who runs the train doesn’t want trouble when they get into Yugoslavia and he begs Poirot to investigate the murder so that they can simply present the solution to the authorities when the train gets unblocked. Poirot agrees and the investigation begins.

One, important aspect that comes out (this is a plot spoiler, though not an identity-of-the-murderer spoiler) is that the man Ratchett was involved, several years earlier, in the kidnapping and death of the daughter of Daisy Armstrong. The event (reminiscent of what happened to Charles Lindberg) was big news and the man responsible was never caught. After the child died, her mother went into premature labor and both she and the baby died. There was a servant wrongly suspected who committed suicide, and Daisy’s father also committed suicide after his wife and child died. Poirot remarks that Ratchett was responsible for five murders, essentially. And he is wondering who, on this train, was connected to the devastated Armstrong family. There might be more than one would suppose.

Murder On the Orient Express, published in 1934, is probably Agatha Christie’s most famous work, though I read somewhere that And Then There Were None is actually her best selling novel of all time. Christie is also one of the premier mystery writers of all time and her Hercule Poirot appeared in 33 of her novels, as well as many short stories. Unlike Conan Doyle – who is more about the process of Holmes’ detections than about trying to be tricky with his mysteries, Christie is truly one of the best writers at genuinely puzzling the reader. It’s like a game: “Who committed the murder? It was him No, wait…it’s was her.” No one is better than her at providing a dazzling display of suspects, backstories and motivations. My sister was commenting about how reading a Christie novel is to constantly be revising your understanding of what is going on; we are always finding out something new that is changing the complexion of the case.

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Poirot confronts the suspects

The main reason I wanted to see the movie again – apart from the fact that it is generally a well-done movie and I love mysteries and trains – was because it contains an astonishing array of stars, stars I was only dimly aware of when last I saw the movie and who I have now seen when they were much younger. There is Lauren Bacall  (I have now seen in her movies with Humphrey Bogart, like The Big Sleep), Ingrid Bergman (of course, Casablanca) and Wendy Hiller (Pygmalion and I Know Where I’m Going!), though Hiller made very few movies and stayed mostly on the stage. Bacall is the chatty, vulgar American, Bergman plays a Swedish missionary to Africa and Wendy Hiller is an imperious Russian princess. Bergman won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal.

Albert Finney is not my favorite Poirot. David Suchet will always be the best (though I didn’t care as much for his less faithful version of Murder On the Orient Express from 2010), but Finney is adequate, if a little hard to understand. He does not speak at all clearly. Agatha Christie managed to actually not dislike this adaptation of one of her books (she disliked many other, previous ones), but she found Finney’s mustache a little underwhelming. Poirot in the book is supposed to have a perfectly extraordinary one.

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Jacqueline Bisset and Lauren Bacall

The rest of the cast reads like a hall of fame line-up, if there were such a thing: Sean Connery, Vanessa Redgrave, John Gielgud, Jacqueline Bisset, Martin Balsam, Richard Widmark, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Anthony Perkins, Michael York. They are all excellent in their roles. It truly is an ensemble cast, with everyone getting equal screen time as the suspects, though Bacall is slightly preeminent among them all in her role.

If you like mysteries, trains, classic movies, Agatha Christie, Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman, are looking for a rare Wendy Hiller in a movie sighting, etc….this is your movie. One of my favorite adaptations of one of Christie’s books.

 

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Ingrid Bergman, Wendy Hiller, Rachel Roberts, Vanessa Redgrave, Lauren Bacall, Sean Connery, Anthony Perkins, Martin Balsam

 
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Posted by on August 25, 2014 in Detective Movies, Mystery

 

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