If you can't trust your dentist...
F. Behrens | Keene, NH USA | 03/09/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
" is a very welcome addition to the Hercule Poirot series being issued by Acorn Media. The shorter episodes are in boxed sets of three video tapes each, the longer ones on DVD. As I mentioned in my other reviews of this series, it is always fascinating and instructive to see how the shorter cases are inflated to fill up the 50 minutes or so while the novels have to be simplified to fit in the 103-minute format. So before watching this episode, I reread the novel and then enjoyed seeing how the script writer Clive Exton had to prune away several characters, one fairly major, and still stick closely to the convoluted plot with little loss of ingenuity. Known in this country as "An Overdose of Death" and as "The Patriotic Murders," this novel tries to parallel the child's rhyme, but Christie is not as successful as she was in "Ten Little Indians" (to give it its polite name). Therefore it is good that the television version simply has two young girls playing outside one of the murder locales, chanting the song. The background of the Fascist group in the park is only hinted at in the novel but chilling on the screen. Equally chilling are the feet of the third corpse protruding from a box in a closet. Peter Blythe (familiar to us as Rumpole's Head of Chambers, "Soapy Sam") turns in a fine performance as the powerful politician who had a dental appointment around the time of the murder of his dentist; and the rest of the cast (no Miss Lemon or Hastings in this one) are up to the standards already set for this series. Philip Jackson's Chief Inspector Japp, always trying to keep one step ahead of Poirot, is a delight as always. I will say nothing of the plot, lest I slip up and spoil your enjoyment--but I must warn you to use your eyes as well as your ears in the early segments of the film, because things get pretty complicated. A word for those who keep contacting me about the "Silent Witness" episode: Acorn Media claims it will be out in July or August of 2001. Be patient."
A Change of Pace
Charles S. Tashiro | Agoura Hills, CA USA | 03/30/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This entry in the Poirot series boasts perhaps the fastest pace, the most complex story and a uniquely horrific feel that gives it an edge not possessed by most of the episodes. You're never allowed to get your bearings, quite, so that as Poirot and Japp jump from one murder site to another, you're always left a step or two behind. There are so many characters, it's difficult just to keep track of them, much less to figure out what they have to do with the rest of the story. So when the identity of the murderer is revealed it feels less like the closing of a mystery than the gasping to the finish line in the last lap of a race. (It's interesting that "Buckle my Shoe" and "The Mysterious Affair at Styles" should have been directed by the same person, Ross Devenish. They are just about at opposite extremes in pacing, one practically breathless, the other relaxed to the point of sedate.)I'm not criticizing the episode for this rush of characters and locations. In fact, it's remarkably effective, especially in the opening sequences as we jump from one character to another, waiting for the thread that will tie them together. The clipped pace is, nonetheless, somewhat unusual for the series, which tends to have a relaxed, if persistent, forward movement. The episode is also largely lacking the humorous touches around the edges that makes some of the other episodes so endearing. So if one of the attractions of the series for you is its placid, tongue-in-cheek style, you may be a little put off by "Buckle My Shoe." On the other hand, aside from the absence of Hastings and Miss Lemon, all of the series's familiar virtues are present: David Suchet and Philip Jackson in their usual parts, elegant design and camerawork, first-rate character acting in every part, no matter how small. And if "Buckle my Shoe" lacks the humor of the rest of the series, it has a darker tone that at its best is downright creepy. (The scenes in the dentist's office are especially skin crawling.) It may not be what you usually get from the series, but "One, Two, Buckle my Shoe" has more than enough to compensate."
From the Poirot Movie Collection
Charles S. Tashiro | 12/29/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This has perhaps the best opening in a Poirot episode I have seen so far: slow-motion footage, plenty of superimposed images, of a (particularly malevolent) dentist being shot while little girls play hopscotch outside (the very fact that they do nothing else during the course of the film but play hopscotch makes them seem obsessive and evil)... The film itself did not disappoint. No other episode quite conjures up the feeling of clueing and detection in the books--although I am a great fan of the films, I sometimes feel that they fail to measure up to the essence of detection and mystery possessed by the books (the last two films, THE MURDER OF ROGER ACKROYD and LORD EDGWARE DIES, are examples of this). Yet in this adaptation, I was conscious of Poirot as __a mind__, as, with the assistance of Inspector Japp, he investigates murder after murder: a dentist's suicide (although the clue of the stains and the rug, also, I think, found in MURDER IN MESOPOTAMIA, was missing), his patient's death by overdose (not revealed that he was a spy / blackmailer until end, unlike book), and the death of an actress (or was somebody else the victim, as the dental records indicate?). Finally, following the titular clue of a shoe buckle, Poirot is able to accuse the murderer (watching with my family, they were able to spot the villain--one of the flaws in the series, as Christie's misdirection works perhaps better on page than on screen). The acting was superb, and new areas of the characters' lives were revealed: a shot of the Whitehaven Mansions lobby, and Inspector Japp at home in Isleworth. Unfortunately, the church service scene was not in the film, nor are Mr. Chapman and Howard Raikes to be found; and most of the spy business was missing. Yet this is still an absolutely superb film, one that any fan of Agatha Christie would do well to watch."
My favorite of the DVDs is a unique experience, indeed!
face-garak | 06/26/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Whether you like it or not, this episode is darker, more confusing, and more quickly-paced than any other in the series' history. Personally, I LOVE IT. The multiple, characters, settings, plot devices, and moods give it and incredible feeling of intrigue, creepiness, and A LOT to think about! I didn't mind pausing to get my bearings a few times, even though it may have interrupted the flow! It made me feel clever that I could keep up with it! Wonderful stuff!And, as you may have noticed in some of my other reviews, I'm obsessed with picking which episodes have my favorite theme music. This one makes incredibly great use of the "One, Two, Buckle, My Shoe" nursery rhyme and makes it into a them that it played all throughout in so many different varations that it's mind-bogglingly wonderful!You've got a love a film that can make girls playing hop-scotch seem demonic and evil!"