More Great Agatha Christie Adaptations
Kenneth Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express is already doing big business, a fitting successor to Sidney Lumet’s original adaptation of Agatha Christie’s blockbuster thriller. But it’s far from the only Christie book to make for a great movie or TV show. Here, we present 10 excellent adaptations with enough thrills and surprises to fuel a week-long marathon.
Death on the Nile (1978)
John Guillermin’s Oscar-winning take on Death on the Nile features the late, great Peter Ustinov as Detective Poirot, and makes the most of its Egyptian setting. The whole cast is excellent, but three all-time great actresses are used to delicious effect: Bette Davis, Maggie Smith, and Angela Lansbury.
The Mirror Crack'd (1980)
This Miss Marple adaptation helmed by Guy Hamilton is fairly loose, but it still follows the twisty Christie formula. Come for Angela Lansbury’s grounded take on Jane Marple, but stay for the glorious sight of Elizabeth Taylor and Kim Novak laying into each other with juicy dialogue to boot. Purchase it on Amazon.
Witness for the Prosecution (1957)
Arguably the most acclaimed film on this list, Billy Wilder turned Christie’s play (itself based on a short story) into a thrilling courtroom meller. With perfectly-pitched tension and high drama, it’s no wonder Witness scored Oscar nods for Best Picture, Director, and Actor (Charles Laughton). Purchase or rent it on Amazon.
Agatha Christie's Poirot (1989-2013)
This long-running ITV series created by Clive Exton might be the most essential adaptation for any Christie fan on this list. At 70 episodes, the show managed to take on every single Christie title that featured Hercule Poirot, and David Suchet’s iconic performance of character is worth the binge alone. Stream it with BritBox.
Murder in Three Acts (1986)
Warner Bros. produced this made-for-TV film, in which Peter Ustinov reprised the role of Poirot. Based on Christie’s Three Act Tragedy, the film shifts the action to Acapulco, Mexico. It marks Ustinov’s second-to-last take on the detective (he played him six times total), and more importantly, one of his best. Purchase or rent it on Amazon.
Thirteen at Dinner (1985)
Another TV film starring Ustinov as Poirot, Thirteen at Dinner is more notable for Faye Dunaway’s flamboyant take on Jane Wilkinson, a popular actress turned prime suspect. She’s great, but returning favorite David Suchet would not say the same of his own performance: He once called his turn as James Japp “possibly the worst performance of my career.” Purchase or rent it on Amazon.
Agatha Christie's Marple (2004-2010)
Where ITV had a Poirot series, it also had a Miss Marple series. The Emmy-nominated drama starred both Geraldine McEwan and Julia McKenzie in the title role, and actually moved beyond straight adaptation of Miss Marple novels, eventually venturing into Christie’s broader body of work. Stream it with Hulu or Acorn.
And Then There Were None (2015)
Lifetime’s quietly stunning adaptation of And Then There Were None is easily one of the most underrated adaptations on this list. Craig Viveiros directed the atmospheric miniseries with a dark, off-kilter energy, bringing Christie’s locked-room mystery to gorgeous and compelling life. Don’t miss this one. Purchase it on Amazon.
Evil Under the Sun (1982)
Another Guy Hamilton-directed Christie film, Evil Under the Sun didn’t earn as much attention as other flashier Christie projects of its era, but deserves a closer look. Maggie Smith and Diana Rigg provide wicked supporting turns and Cole Porter contributes an immersive, unsettling score. Purchase or rent it on Amazon.
Murder, She Said (1961)
George Pollack’s celebrated film of 4.50 to Paddington remains one of the most popular Christie adaptations more than 50 years later. The author, famously, disliked the movie, but critics rightly praised its smarts and solid performances. Dame Margaret Rutherford gave a stellar turn as Miss Marple that, for many, first brought the character into the public imagination. Purchase or rent it on Amazon.
And look out for... Crooked House (2017)
Indeed, Murder on the Orient Express isn’t the only star-studded blockbuster Agatha Christie movie to grace our screens in 2017. Just before Christmas, Sony Pictures will release a stylish, mysterious take on Crooked House stateside. We’ve yet to get a look, but here’s some of the cast to get you excited: Glenn Close, Christina Hendricks, Gillian Anderson, Max Irons, and Terence Stamp. The film opens in select theaters Dec. 22.