For someone whom The Guinness World Records lists as the best-selling novelist of all time, there are surprisingly few Agatha Christie movies. And even then there are even fewer great ones.
We’re sure that with Kenneth Branagh behind and in front of the camera for the forthcoming Murder on the Orient Express will join the list of the brilliant films, but in the meantime, if you want to gen up on your big screen Christie, here’s your go-to list...
And Then There Were None
Agatha Christie’s original And Then There Were None novel climaxes on a more bleak note than any of her other books. That ending, however, was changed for the first big screen adaptation of the story (three more English language versions would follow, as well as a doggedly faithful BBC version in 2015), giving 1940s audiences a moderately happier ending.
Still, there’s a deliciously streak of black humour running through this Rene Clair-directed flick, that feels more authentically Christie than any of the other movie versions.
Witness for the Prosecution
Viewers of last Christmas’ small screen Witness for the Prosecution won’t recognise much in this Billy Wilder-directed classic, but that’s only because this one is much more faithful to Christie’s original 1953 stage play than the BBC’s sexed-up take on the story.
Tyrone Power is the smooth-talking American put on trial for the murder of an rich old widow with a never-better Charles Laughton as his corpulent barrister.
Murder She Said
There may not be much of the literary Miss Marple in Margaret Rutherford’s rambunctious take on the character but there’s still much fun to be had with this contemporised version of Christie’s novel 4.50 from Paddington.
Christie herself was unhappy with the movie, but it proved so popular that it spawned three sequels, Murder at the Gallop, Murder Most Foul and Murder Ahoy!.
Death on the Nile
Albert Finney said no to more Hercule Poirot movies after 1974’s Murder on the Orient Express, so Peter Ustinov stepped into the well-’tashed ‘tec’s shoes for its Egypt-set follow-up. Set mostly on a period paddle steamer on the Nile River, it’s a similarly star-studded affair, including Bette Davis, Mia Farrow, David Niven, Maggie Smith and Angela Lansbury as some of the possible killers of wealthy heiress Linnet Ridgeway (Lois Chiles).
Ustinov would go on to star as Poirot in another five movies, 1982's Evil Under the Sun, 1985's Thirteen at Dinner, 1986's Dead Man's Folly, 1986's Murder in Three Acts, and 1988's Appointment with Death.
The Mirror Crack’d
Based on the rather clunkily titled The Mirror Crack’d from Side from Side, this fabulously entertaining whodunit stars Angela Lansbury as only the second screen Jane Marple. As per most Christie movies, it’s a starry affair, with such names as Elizabeth Taylor, Tony Curtis, Edward Fox, Kim Novak, Rock Hudson and – in his film debut – Pierce Brosnan along for the ride.
Not based on an Agatha Christie novel, but instead on a mysterious chapter in the author’s life, Agatha is a speculative drama about the circumstances around her 11-day disappearance in 1926.
What happened to the author after her husband told her he was leaving her remains a mystery to this day. Two doctors diagnosed amnesia, but many suspected that she was fully compos mentis when she was found in Harrogate’s Swan Hydropathic Hotel, registered as a Mrs Teresa Neele from Cape Town.
The movie depicts Christie (played by Vanessa Redgrave) planning suicide in such a way as to frame her husband's mistress for her ‘murder’, with Dustin Hoffman as an American reporter on her tail.
The movie proved so controversial that Christie's heirs unsuccessfully sued to prevent the film's distribution.
Murder on the Orient Express comes chugging into Cineworld on 3rd November.