I must admit that at the age when most kids are now engrossed in the adventures of boy wizards, I was enjoying the works of Conan Doyle, Poe and Christie. I loved a good mystery as a tween, so I can’t express how excited I was to receive this DVD box set in the mail. Not only did it feature one of my favorite detectives, the fastidious Hercule Poirot, but my all time favorite Christie novel, Murder on the Orient Express! However, I must also admit that I was unaware that this particular box set was released to coincide with the broadcast of these movies as Season X on PBS’ Masterpiece Mystery! during July.
Murder on the Orient Express is the crown jewel of this box set and features the most bonus content. In addition to the film, there is a 47 minute documentary, David Suchet on the Orient Express, along with info about Agatha Christie’s 120th Anniversary Celebration, a listing of the Poirot books and cast filmographies. As far as the film adaptation, I was quite impressed. I found it to be even more cinematic than the classic 1974 version starring Albert Finney, which seems more like a stage play by comparison. Seeing this film, it makes me want to read the book again and then watch the film right after. If you have to buy the set just to get this version, then do it. This disc gets an A+.
The Third Girl is the second film in the set and features a case where Poirot is joined by an eccentric crime novelist, Ariadne Oliver (portrayed by Zoë Wanamaker), who appears to be a stand in for Dame Christie herself. This one feels more like a traditional British television production, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. And even though the subject matter deals with murder, suicide and possible madness, there is still some humor to be found in the rapport between Poirot and Oliver. This disc gets a B.
The final film in the set is Appointment with Death, another lavish production that has the strongest supporting cast. Most people will be excited because Tim Curry is a main character, but I was thrilled to see Paul Freeman (Belloq!!!) in a major role. This is another classic Christie whodunit, set in an exotic locale about the murder of a well deserving corpse and the many suspects who may have had a hand in the deadly deed. David Suchet and Tim Curry supply notes for the special features. This disc gets an A.
Now the question to answer is if this DVD box set is worth purchasing. The films and documentary have all been shown on TV for free, so if you’re a fan then you’ve likely seen them by now. The bonus material doesn’t make enough of a case to invest in this set. And then there’s the fact that this is the 5th set in a growing series. And all the Christie-philes out there should be forewarned that there are several changes made from the books in the adaptation. But given all that, I would easily recommend this as an addition to anyone’s film library. Like a good Agatha Christie novel, you can pick up one of these DVDs without having to have seen anything prior. And if you were going to start to immerse yourself into the world of the great Belgian detective, then this would be a great place to start.