Poirot: The Movie Collection

Set 6

 

Poirot: The Movie Collection ~ Set 6

[aka: Agatha Christie’s Poirot ~ Set 6]

[aka: Poirot 6]

Based on novels by Agatha Christie

Original Music by Christian Henson

Production Design by Jeff Tessier

2009-10

 

Starring David Suchet as Detective Hercule Poirot

 

Three Act Tragedy

Written by Nick Dear

Cinematography by Peter Greenhalgh

Directed by Ashley Pearce

Supporting cast

Martin Shaw

Kimberley Nixon

Kate Ashfield

Jane Asher

Art Malik

 

The Clocks

Written by Stewart Harcourt

Directed by Charles Palmer

Supporting cast

Anna Massey

Lesley Sharp

Phil Daniels

Tom Burke

Abigail Thaw

Jaime Winstone

 

Hallowe’en Party

Written by Mark Gatiss

Cinematography by Cinders Forshaw

Directed by Charles Palmer

Supporting cast

Zoë Wanamaker

Amelia Bullmore

Sophie Thompson

Deborah Findlay

Timothy West

 

Production:

Television: WGBH, Agatha Christie Ltd & ITV Studios

Video: Acorn Media

 

Video

Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p

Codec: AVC

Disc Size: BD-50 x 3

Bit rate: High (30-40 Mbps)

Runtime: 92/92/92 minutes

Episodes: 3

Chapters: 12 per episode

 

Audio: English LPCM 2.0 stereo

 

Subtitles: English SDH

 

Extras: None

 

Presentation:

Boxed Set (SRP: $59.99): BRD x 3

Street Date: July 12, 2011



Acorn Product Description:

Agatha Christie’s Poirot: The Movie Collection, Set 6 debuts on DVD and Blu-ray from Acorn Media on July 12, 2011. The video release includes all three lavishly produced mysteries premiering on PBS’s Masterpiece Mystery! on June 19, June 26, and July 3, 2010. ITV Studios’ Poirot has aired on ITV1 in the U.K. since 1989 and on PBS and A&E in the U.S. BAFTA nominee David Suchet returns as Hercule Poirot, Agatha Christie’s elegant Belgian sleuth of unsurpassed deductive powers and peerless viewer appeal, in three baffling new cases based on her classic novels.


The Movies: 7/7/7


     


THREE ACT TRAGEDY—When guests at successive dinner parties mysteriously drop dead, Poirot teams up with an old friend, retired stage star Sir Charles Cartwright (Martin Shaw), to ferret out the killer.


     


THE CLOCKS—As Britain readies for war, Poirot journeys to Dover to help the son of an old friend solve a case involving an unidentified corpse and four mysterious timepieces, all stopped at precisely the same time.


     


HALLOWE’EN PARTY—Crime novelist Ariadne Oliver (Zoë Wanamaker) calls on Poirot to investigate the macabre murder of a young girl on Hallowe’en Eve who claimed to have witnessed a killing.

 

Comment:

I’ve been eyebrows deep into mysteries on high-definition video lately, having just reviewed Acorn’s George Gently Series 3 and rewatching Foyle’s War on Icon Blu-ray (available only in region-free Australia, as far as I know.)  I’m not sure why it seems remarkable to me, but it does: that these three series, all set in mid-twentieth century England with mostly English actors, are very different from each other. George Gently investigates homicide cases in England’s northern counties in the 1960s, Foyle’s War is set on the south coast in the early 1940s, and Poirot at a time during the decades preceding and following WWII when the intuitive theorizing detective was gradually being replaced by scientific investigative methods – which the Belgian detective, by far the more egoistic of the three, enjoys making look foolish whenever he can – though, excepting “The Clocks”, the episodes don’t dwell very much on the efforts of the police, not as much as, say, Sherlock Holmes.


     


There’s much to distinguish these mysteries besides their settings: the style of the detectives, the manner in which the writers reveal clues and the unmasking of the perpetrator.  In common with these and many detective procedurals is how suspicion is cast on a number of suspects, though only Foyle’s War consistently indulges in more than one mystery per episode, tying together more suspects in more crimes than the others (“The Clocks” being the exception).  Agatha Christie prefers to make her suspects a little more flamboyant than we would expect to meet in the general population, and if there is more than one murder, which there often are, they tend to be the work of the same deranged mind.


     

 

Poirot, like Nick Charles, enjoys gathering together the suspects in a showpiece finale, unsettling each in turn as he reminds the audience how it is entirely possible that any of them might be the killer.  Charles and Nora get a bigger bang out of this than Poirot, who tends to go for the jugular quicker, providing the characteristic Christie twist as he exposes the criminal for who he or she really is.  Gently and Foyle are more circumspect about their accusations, but Foyle especially always waits until all the clues are in order before surprising the guilty – and surprised they always are.  How the culprit takes the news is one of the more engaging things about all of these mysteries.


     

 

Poirot is hardly recognizable except as a caricature, certainly in comparison to Gently or Foyle, who are both “regular guys.”  Hercule Poirot is a prissy, mincing fellow, who often refers to himself in the third person. Despite appearances, Poirot is remarkably liberal minded – as he puts it “I do not judge, I investigate.”  For all his powers of observation and deduction (move over, Holmes) Poirot is as likely to fall into the trap of discounting the unlikely as the next guy, but he is just as willing to reprimand himself for being obtuse, as is Holmes on occasion.  That’s part of their charm, since their mistakes of judgment are like Einsteinian insights compared to us mortals. The detective has been played by a number of great actors over the years – on film, most notably by Peter Ustinov and Albert Finney, the latter, I think, having more in common with the approach of David Suchet, who seems to have been born to the role.


     

 

What I require in a work of detective fiction is to be lead more than mislead.  I smile when I correctly recognize red herrings for what they are, but I am not so amused when the final unraveling presents information that, up to that moment, is known only to the detective.  In these Blu-ray episodes Foyle and Poirot are more guilty of pulling the proverbial rabbit out of the hat than Gently.  And while I like to guess who the culprit is, a right answer is meaningless without the evidence to convict, so it is important to be able to recreate in my mind the how and the why of any crime. What ruins any procedural is when we say to ourselves “you can’t really get there from here” and that rarely happens in any of these masterful mysteries. On the other hand, you don’t want to solve them any too quickly either.  I admit that this is a difficult balance to negotiate, and few get it just right.  I found the solution more easily with two of these Poirot episodes than in Gently or Foyle – too easily in the case of “Three Act Tragedy” and only a little less so with “Hallowe’en Party” though the observation that the killer needed to be drenched was clever, obvious as it was on reflection.  The rabbit was peering out of his hat in “The Clocks.”


     

 

Image: 5~7

Remarkable as it seems, the image quality of the three episodes are not especially consistent, I’m guessing owing more to the photography than to the transfer.  “Thee Act Tragedy” is beset with varyingly modulated deliberate fog filtering that comes and goes at will.  It’s the sort of effect that rarely comes off well in high definition since, alas, it directs our attention not to the desired effect but to its cause.  The image in this episode is rarely sharp and detailed - and when it is, it sort of leaps off the screen out of place, as it were.  Soft focus filtering notwithstanding, the picture quality of “Thee Act Tragedy” suffers from blown-out highs and is noisy, especially noticeable when the image fades to black.  Not so in “Hallowe’en Party” which maintain a consistent, unassailable, well-resolved gloss throughout, with properly controlled contrast and true colors.  After a grainy and lengthy prologue, “The Clocks” falls somewhere in between.  My screencaps accurately, if diminutively, present a more complimentary picture of these movies than as viewed in large screen projection.


     

 

Audio & Music: 7/8

As with their “George Gently” Blu-ray set, Acorn again supplies the original stereo mix in PCM, which offers clean, crisp dialogue and subtle foley and realistic effects.  Dialogue, especially, benefits from this sort of uncompressed audio, since the speech is often idiosyncratic and inflected, not least by the principle protagonist himself.  In “Thee Act Tragedy” Martin Shaw plays an actor who delivers his lines as though he were on stage.  It’s a smart performance and captured neatly in this format.  Not so good is the fact that there is not nearly as much attention paid to getting the dialogue ambiance correct, and  I thought the music too forward, but these last quibbles are likely not the fault of the transfer.  The other two episodes are better in all respects.


     

 

Extras: 1

Acorn treats each of the three episodes as a separate movie and gives each its own case - I would have preferred slimcases to clamshells, still I’m grateful for their not being in a single hinged case.  And they treat us to forced, though chapter advanceable preview adverts, on disc one but, happily, not on the second and third discs.  Accurate subtitles are supplied which, considering the stylized dialogue, is most welcome.

 

Recommendation: 7

After sixty-three episodes over twelve seasons since 1989, you might think that the producers, directors or Suchet himself, might be getting tired of the series.  Fans don’t seem to be, and if you’re new to the series or if its rendering in high-def peaks your interest, there’s no reason not to start here.


     

 

 

Leonard Norwitz

© LensViews

June 30, 2011


More images from Poirot Set 6:


     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     


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