Poirot: The Adventure of the Clapham Cook (1989)

Fully Realized

Over the years, I have written one tirade after another about Clive Exton, the adapter of Christie for many of these Poirot mysteries. He just doesn’t get the form, what makes the form of the detective story so captivating.

What he does is substitute character for discovery. The excuse, I am sure is that colourful characters can be cinematic and by design, Poirot’s grey cells are always inferred, never seen. But I know that one can capture the process on film, because others have done it — even others within this long running series. So I pound my forehead when I see wasted opportunity.

But I do have to give him some credit, I think. This is the first in the very long sequence, years and years. Yet it appears fully formed, as whole as it will ever be. The characters have the same qualities they will keep. The locations, the dressing of sets and actors, and the percentage of populated street scenes.

All this would have been worked out in some detail, probably more preproduction work than any one episode would ever require. I assume that Exton played a role in this, because these are the hooks he exploits better than other writers on the team.

I disagree with his decisions. What works with the books is that there is a powerfully weaving mind in the body of a narcissistic pomp, not the other way around. But I do think he did a good job at what he attempted.

Posted in 2015

Ted’s Evaluation — 3 of 3: Worth watching.


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