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Agatha Christie: Mystery Lover's Collection
Agatha Christie Mystery Lover's Collection
Actor: James Warwick
Genres: Television, Mystery & Suspense
NR     2008     7hr 51min

Five classics from the Queen of Crime The Secret Adversary -- United by their love of adventure -- not to mention their romantic attraction -- Tommy Beresford (James Warwick, Lillie) and Tuppence Cowley (Francesca Annis, M...  more »


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Movie Details

Actor: James Warwick
Genres: Television, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Acorn Media
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen
DVD Release Date: 10/28/2008
Original Release Date: 01/01/2008
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2008
Release Year: 2008
Run Time: 7hr 51min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 4
SwapaDVD Credits: 4
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 9
Edition: Box set
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

The Dame's work
E. A Solinas | MD USA | 08/09/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)

"No introduction is really needed for Agatha Christie, one of the most popular mystery writers since.... well, since ever. Sorry, Mr. Doyle.

And the "Agatha Christie: Mystery Lover's Collection" is a pretty good sampling of Dame Agatha's adapted work over the years -- a Poirot, a Miss Marple, two Tommy and Tuppence stories, and the standalone mystery "The Pale Horse." Although the last one is a rather lackluster affair, the others are all worth the price -- lots of retro glamour, abundant motives, and the occasional rendition of "It's a Long Way to Tipperary."

"The Secret Adversary" reintroduces Tommy (James Warwick) and Tuppence (Francesca Annis) to each other, in a blah period of unemployment after World War II. To drum up some money, they decide to become adventurers. But their lighthearted venture becomes deadly serious when they become enmeshed in an international situation involving a packet of secret documents, a mysterious girl named Jane Finn, an American millionaire and an elusive mastermind called only "Mr. Brown."

"The Affair of the Pink Pearl" takes place several months after that mystery, when Tuppence is bored by hat-buying and lounging around. So Tommy cures the situation with a shady detective agency -- and soon they have their first client -- seems a pink pearl has been stolen from a wealthy American lady, at an impoverished aristocrat's house. And while there's no lack of suspects, Tuppence's "Special 24-hour Service" has put them under a time crunch.

"The Body in the Library" opens with a young maid telling her employers that... well, there's a body in the library -- a platinum blonde in glitzy clothing. Sinc her old friend's husband is suspected, Miss Marple (Joan Hickson) decides to sleuth around St. Mary Mead, investigating a pair of obnoxious party animals, a wheelchair-bound millionaire, and a mysterious car crash -- with another body -- found in a nearby valley.

"The Mysterious Affair at Styles" happens when Arthur Hastings (Hugh Fraser) is staying with a friend in the countryside. Unfortunately, his pal's mother is killed by strychnine in a seemingly locked room, and the most popularly-suspected person -- her younger, creepy husband -- has an alibi. So it falls to a nearby Belgian refugee that Hastings is acquainted with, Hercule Poirot (David Suchet) to unravel this impenetrable mystery.

And finally -- last and least -- "The Pale Horse" has Mark Easterbrook (Colin Buchanan) intervening as a priest is murdered, which of course puts Mark in the spotlight for the murder. As he investigates to clear his own name, he finds that the priest's attendance to a dying woman -- whose symptoms are now shared by a sick friend of Mark's -- may have led to his death. And what does all this have to do with the three "witches" at the Pale Horse?

Agatha Christie has been lucky when it comes to adaptations. While some over the years haven't been too good, there have been some pretty faithful, brilliantly acted adaptations as well -- especially anything with Hickson or Suchet. And as an introduction to Christie's adapted mysteries, this is a perfect little collection... with the exception of the bastardized "Pale Horse."

And the first four mysteries are perfect examples of where Christie shines -- lots of sleek retro glamour from the 1920s, the cozy and inviting St. Mary Mead, and a stately country manorhouse. It's a bit like being soaked in the eras that the characters are in. And while the murders and thefts obviously take center stage, there are some gentle subplots about things like a love triangle between Tommy, Tuppence and a millionaire, and a poignant story about Hastings suffering from post-traumatic stress.

And while Tommy and Tuppence's stories are rather frothy, all of them have a slowly-unfolding storyline, clusters of seemingly disparate clues, and a gentle little sense of humor ("It ought to be a joke except that she's dead! She's a blonde, platinum blonde! You will come, won't you?"). Even the obnoxious people have some great lines ("You do not snog with overweight Hungarians... and if you do, you do so out of sight!").

Except, of course, "The Pale Horse." Not only is the storyline dramatically unfaithful to Christie's original work, but the writers tried to give it a leather'n'motorcycles, rock'n'roll flair combined with a darkly occult feeling. It barely resembles a Christie work, and leaves you with a vaguely distasteful feeling by the finale.

And the people leading these are utterly perfect -- David Suchet and an ornately curled mustaches are brilliant as the eccentric, polished little Belgian, while Joan Hickson is deceptively sweet and fluttery as Miss Marple. James Warwick is adorably Hastingsish as the laid-back Tommy, while Francesca Annis perfectly captures Tuppence's effervescent spirit ("They're not ALL the same... they have NUANCES to them!). She also is one of the three women alive who looked good in a flapper dress.

The "Agatha Christie: Mystery Lover's Collection" is a good sampler for those looking for good Dame Agatha adaptations, with the best actors who tackled Marple, Poirot and the Beresfords. But skip the wretched last movie."
Somebody You Know Will Be Very Pleased When It Arrives
Stephanie DePue | Carolina Beach, NC USA | 11/02/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)

""Agatha Christie: Mystery Lover's Collection," a box set consisting of four DVD's, and five classic British mysteries from the Queen of Crime, Agatha Christie, most popular mystery writer of them all, reaches us in time to be a welcome gift for her fans. The set includes a mystery from each of three heavily-watched, bestselling television series, made by Granada for Britain's ITV, independent, privately-owned television stations: "Poirot," "Marple," and "Tommy & Tuppence," as well as a new release of the romantic thriller, "A Pale Horse," based on one of the author's last works. Most have been seen here on PBS stations, or "A & E." All have been sumptuously, carefully filmed, in some of England's prettiest locations, and are truly star-studded; unfortunately, only the most recently made "Marple" has subtitles, and all could use them for the author's many fans this side of the pond. The mysteries are:

1. "The Secret Adversary," (1982). Reunites James Warwick and the beauteous Francesca Annis from the previous TV series Lillie,and he's still providing her admirable support, in more ways than one. The reunited pair, childhood friends, find themselves searching for a top-secret document that was traveling aboard the doomed Lusitania. It's set after World War I; the uniforms, vehicles, interiors and clothes are a treat. Features George Baker as Whittington, and Honor Blackman, (Pussy Galore in Goldfinger) as Rita Vandemeyer. Also Alec McCowan as Sir James Peele Edgerton. The object of all the excitement (the MacGuffin, as Alfred Hitchcock would have styled it) is a bit of a puzzlement, though, supposedly an executed treaty that, if published at this time, would cause at minimum, a general strike, and more likely, revolution. But: England actually did have a crippling, nine day General Strike (May 3-12, 1926). And are we really to believe that His Majesty's government signed such damaging treaties, and then denied their existence?

2. "The Affair of the Pink Pearl." Another Tommy and Tuppence, characterized as a romantic mystery. And so it is, also a bit on the light side:your guess is as good as mine; in a private hotel, somebody's made off with a pricey pink pearl.

3. "The Body in the Library," (2004). Geraldine McEwan ( The Magdalene Sisters), as Marple, just Marple, thank you. Truly packed with stars: Ian Richardson as Conway Jefferson, Tara Fitzgerald as Adelaide Jefferson, Joanna Lumley as Dolly Bantry, James Fox as Colonel Arthur Bantry, Simon Callow as Col. Terence Melchett. And subtitles too!! Filmed in some beautiful scenery, Dorney Court, Buckinghamshire; Eastbourne, The Grand Hotel, the Rivoli Ballroom; with again, attention paid to cars, interiors and clothes. Once again, your guess is as good as mine: one morning the body of an unknown young woman is found in the library of the Bantrys' manor house. But some Christie fans may not be thrilled with the plot here: it's been moved to the 1950's, a new subplot has been added, and the original identity of the murderer has been changed.

4. "The Mysterious Affair at Styles," (1980). A most classy outing, featuring popular Poirot series regulars David Suchet in the title part; High Fraser as Lieutenant Arthur Hastings, whom we meet while he is suffering post-stress syndrome from his World War I experience, and Philip Jackson as Inspector James Japp. The lady of the manor is found poisoned in a house Hastings is visiting: he recruits Poirot, whom he had previously met, who is housed in the village with several other Belgian refugees, as a result of the woman's generosity. Once again, clothing, vehicles, interiors have been rendered with the utmost care and attention to detail, and no extras have been spared. This is based on Christie's first published book (1920) -- it also introduced Poirot, the fussy Belgian detective to the world, and explained what he was doing in the U.K. -- and was made to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of her birth (1890-1990).

5. "The Pale Horse," (1997), based on one of Christie's last published works (1961), of the same name. A standalone, brushing on the occult. Set in England's swinging 1960's, when it was written and published: some viewers apparently don't care for this. But I thought the soundtrack, including the Rolling Stones, was a hoot. And as for Hermione Norris, most recently the ultra serious, no-makeup DI Carol Jordan of the TV series Wire in the Blood - Complete First Season; here playing our hero's side kick Hermia Redcliffe, wearing voluminous false eyelashes, and go-go boots, as we all did: well.... Stars Colin Buchanan (Dalziel & Pascoe ), as sculptor Mark Easterbrook, wrongly suspected of murder, trying to clear his name. Quite a few more supporting stars too: Leslie Phillips as Lincoln Bradley; Michael Byrne as Venables; Jean Marsh (Upstairs, Downstairs - Collector's Edition Megaset ) as Thyrza Grey, Tim Potts as Dr. Osbourne. Plot does wander a bit, and it is complex, but most should be able to follow it, even without subtitles.

Somebody you know, possibly you, yourself, will be very pleased when this box set comes in the mail.

Great old fashion mysteries
Charlotte A. Meiter | 01/12/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I love anything by Agatha Christie. These were very well done and if they have another set on DVD, I would purchase them as well."
Agatha Movies - the Best
D. Moore | Gulfport, MS | 01/13/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I ordered these movies and received them earlier than expected and as usual, in excellent condition. I know I've read all her books but Body in the Library had a surprise I didn't remember. All the movies are great!"