Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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The Hercule Poirot Centenary Blogathon: Peter Ustinov

It is the centenary of the birth of Hercule Poirot, the popular detective created in 1920 by Agatha Christie. For the occasion, the Liberi di Scrivere blog has organized a blogathon, and following this link you can find the list of participants.

In our house, the debate has never been about who is the best James Bond ever (I have always preferred Roger Moore to Sean Connery, who was my mother’s favorite), nor about who the ultimate Sherlock Holmes is (both me and my brother we remain faithful to Jeremy Brett). It is about Poirot that there is a split – my brother, along with the vast majority of Orthodoxy, recognizes David Suchet as the perfect Poirot, while I remain faithful to Peter Ustinov.

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The joys of embezzlement

It all started because, while we were recording a podcast about the 1992 TV movie Ghostwatch, with my friend Lucy we started rambling – as we do – and ended up talking about dame Maggie Smith (yes, we tend to ramble far and wide). I mentioned how it always breaks my heart that most viewers know Smith as the old lady in the Harry Potter movies and in Downton Abbey.

I’ve always had a desperate crush for Maggie Smith, and after that chat, I decided to go back and re-watch the movies in which I first found out about this beautiful, extraordinarily talented actress. Travels with my aunt, of course, and Murder by death, the two Peter Ustinov Poirot movies, The Honey Pot, and also a small strange quirky thing called Hot Millions, that I had last seen in the mid ’90s, on the telly, on a long autumn afternoon, and I re-watched last night.

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Back on the Nile

I’m not a fan of Agatha Christie.
I think what turned me off was starting with the Miss Marple mysteries, after viewing the old Margaret Rutherford movies. My late aunt, that was a great fan of Christie gave me an omnibus edition with a number of Miss Marple books, and I hated them.
There.

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But as I think I already mentioned, I love the Poirot movies featuring Peter Ustinov, and when it comes to Death on the Nile, in my house we are divided – to me, nothing surpasses the Ustinov movie, while my brother, that is a David Suchet fan, prefers the TV movie. Continue reading


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A second serving of Poirot: Evil under the Sun (1982)

It always goes like this: I re-watch Death on the Nile, and a week later I re-watch Evil Under the Sun. So why not write a post on the movie?

Four years after Death on the Nile, EMI made another Agatha Christie adaptation, choosing the 1941 novel “Evil Under the Sun”.
The ingredients were basically the same of the previous movie: a stellar cast (with Peter Ustinov, Jane Birkin and Maggie Smith returning, even if the ladies were cast in different roles), an exotic location (Mallorca, doubling for an unspecified Adriatic Island), the same screenwriter (Anthony Shaffer) and the same Oscar-winning costume designer. Even the poster concept was similar.

The result is on a par with the previous film: a good adaptation, with a cunning plot and an unexpected finale, with a beautiful look and a great selection of great actors. Continue reading


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Afternoon on the Nile

Isn’t this writing business just great.
In what other field could I spend the afternoon re-watching the great Peter Ustinov as Hercule Poirot in Death on the Nile, and still call it research?

And by the way, the movie is from 1978, not 1974 as the trailer caption puts it.
And yes, I might inflict my opinions about the movie on you, one of these nights.