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Dead Man's Folly is the third episode of series thirteen of Agatha Christie's Poirot, first broadcast on 30 October 2013. The feature-length episode was based the Agatha Christie novel of the same name and it was directed by Tom Vaughan with screenplay by Nick Dear.

Synopsis

Mrs Ariadne Oliver is asked to stage a murder hunt for the party at Nasse House, the country residence of the Folliat family. As the fête approaches, her intuition tells her that something is not right – as if an invisible hand was cleverly jockeying her along to fit their own plans. Under false pretenses, the writer invites Hercule Poirot – but even the famed Detective cannot prevent a tragedy.

Cast

Comparison with Original Novel

The film adaptation is very faithful to the original work, with most characters retained, almost no side plots added and the nature and execution of the crime staying the same. Some minor details have been changed:

Characters

  • The character of Mr Masterton (an MP who was only mentioned in the book) has been merged with Mr Warburton (the agent of Mr Masterton), creating Mr Warburton, an MP running for the elections.
  • Similarly, the brand new character of Mrs Warburton (the MP's wife) has been created, largely replacing Mrs Masterton from the original book.
  • Sir George Stubbs does not have a beard.

Plot elements

Spoiler warning: A spoiler is announced! The following section contains details about the plot of Dead Man's Folly and its adaptation..
  • The film begins with the Stubbs' arrival at Nasse House during the great storm, one year prior to the action of the rest of the movie. This is only mentioned, not showed, in the book.
  • When coming to Nasse House, Poirot is much less willing to let the hitchhikers into the car; it is the chauffeur, much more jovial and self-assured than in the book, who lets the two girls climb in. In the book, Poirot spots them himself and asks the chauffeur to take them on board, as it is very hot that day.
  • The communication between Poirot and Mrs Oliver, done through telephone in the book, is now peformed in person. Poirot is first summoned by Ariadne through a rather enigmatic telegram ("Please come. Urgent. Nasse House.") and they discuss the particulars once he arrives. After the murder of Marlene Tucker and their return to London, they have a meal together at a café. Finally, before Poirot pieces together the last bits of the puzzle, Ariadne is summoned by him to the scene of crime in exactly the same fashion as he had been by her, which allows for some friendly banter.
  • A subplot has been added in which Etienne De Souza is incriminated by George Stubbs – the latter plants Lady Stubbs's emerald ring in De Souza's pocket when they first meet. When De Souza's yacht is later searched by the police, the ring is found in his jacket and he is charged with murdering Lady Stubbs, as well as Marlene (who must have been witness to the crime, so she had to be silenced). When Poirot clears him by unmasking the true murderers, De Souza is in jail, awaiting his trial – in which, according to the Detective, "the jury will have one look at him and convict him". This is omitted in the book; De Souza's yacht is searched to no avail and the police grudgingly have to let him leave the area and continue on his cruise.
  • Alec Legge's involvement in political matters is downplayed – he does not meet anyone at the folly, nor is he in fact tangled with a specific political party from which he is trying to run away. In the film, he and his wife have not rented the cottage by Nasse House as a retreat advised by his doctor. No medical reason for Alec's moodiness is given, he is simply a rather lost man with radical political beliefs. After Sally leaves him for Michael Weyman, Alec meets Poirot in the woods, his suitcases already packed (in the book, Poirot comes to his cottage). The Detective advises him to tone these views down, as this is not something that is worth losing one's wife for.
  • Poirot finds an additional clue in the film – in the pavillion, there is a buckle from the rucksack that the false Hettie Stubbs took from the boat house, after she murdered Marlene and changed into the hitchhiker's clothes.
  • In the film, Butler Henden is not considered sinister by Poirot, nor does he perform any symphonical stunts with the gong.
  • Bland's experiment on the cruise boat, inspecting the possibility of Lady Stubbs being drowned in full view, is omitted.
  • Poirot does not interview Marlene Tucker's family in the film; instead, he runs into her sister Gertie by the boat house and learns from her that her grandfather Merdell is dead and that Marlene used to spy on people and blackmail them.
  • In the film, George Stubbs has taken to drinking after his wife's staged disappearance. This is not mentioned in the book.

Final revelations

  • Poirot's final monologue does not take place in Mrs Folliat's cottage, but in the pavillion by the river whence Poirot asks her to come.
  • George Stubbs's backstory is altered a bit. In his youth, he got involved with a 14-year-old dairy maid (the film does not explicitly say whether he killed the girl, or abused her sexually). After this incident, Mrs Folliat sent him to South Africa, never willing to hear from him again. When his plane crashed in Nairobi, he was believed to be dead. Alas, he assumed a false identity and managed to return to England. Since he was wanted by the police of several countries, Mrs Folliat agreed to give him one last chance, wed him to Hettie Stubbs and helped him to Hettie's money. In the book, it is only said that before he returned to Nasse, George was a soldier who deserted and went missing, and thus his mother believed him to be dead.
  • After his monologue, Poirot takes Mrs Folliat to the Folly, where the police are busy digging up the concrete to find Hattie's body. Mrs Folliat asks the Detective for some time alone with her son, which he grants her (and stops Inspector Bland from opposing this). She then goes to Nasse House, explains to her son that the police now know everything, and when he breaks down, she asks him to do what his mother tells him to do for once. The police, Poirot and Ariadne, waiting in front of the house, then hear two gunshots. As the police run wildly to the house, the Detective's last word is 'Bon.' – 'Good.' This course of action is only hinted at in the book, where in the last sentence, Mrs Folliat asks Poirot to leave her for a moment as "there are some things one must face quite alone". It is unknown whether her son is in Nasse House at that time and whether Mrs Folliat will indeed commit suicide.
Spoilers end here.

Tropes and themes

  • Poirot's quirks
    • Old-school views – expressing displeasure at the sight of young women in shorts and at the mention of sex maniacs
    • Gallantry – helping Mme Folliat carry her basket
    • Compassion – with fellow foreigners (De Souza, the young people staying at the motel) as well as the murderer
    • Perfect memory – remembering Inspector Bland from a case some fourteen or fifteen years ago, when Bland was only a Sergeant
  • Mrs Oliver's quirks
    • Apples bouncing off when she stands up
    • Unhelpful muddleness during police interrogation

Filming Locations

Gallery

Promotional Videos

See Also

References

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