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  #1  
Old March 14th, 2002, 09:00 PM
Grobius2
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Carr's Other Detectives

Gideon Fell and Sir Henry Merrivale are primary, also well known are Col. March and Henri Bencolin. Let's consider a few others. Most of them seem to be false starts to another series that he abandoned.

1) John Gaunt (first Carter Dickson, published under the name Carr Dickson) -- a drunken pathologist with a tragic past, had great potential as an alternative to HM
2) Patrick Rossiter (colleague of Bencolin's) -- a bumbling sort with high connections, too much of an ass to be continued
3) Dermot Kinross (psychologist) -- solved one of Carr's best mysteries, but got caught up in Zizipompom, had potential but was probably too boring to catch on
4) Colonel Marquis -- an early version of Colonel March -- abortive
version but might have been more intersting as a detective

Then, in a minor way, his incidental (not primary) detectives:

a) Gaudan Cross ("Burning Court") -- wizened monkey, wonderful character
b) Wilkie Collins ("Hungry Goblin") -- the author of "The Moonstone"
c) Judah P. Benjamin ("Papa la-Bas") -- his only other Jewish detective (Cross was Jewish by birth, but actually a Satanist)
d) Edgar Allan Poe ("Man from Paris") -- classic short story, but the 'surprise' is figuring out who the detective is, but nowadays Carr could have done a series using him
d) Jonathan Whicher ("Scandal at High Chimneys") -- the real-life detective in the Constance Kent case -- which has never been properly solved, but Whicher got a reputation out of it

There are others, especially in the Historicals, but they are incidental, like Masters and Hadley.
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Old March 22nd, 2002, 02:21 AM
Keith Keith is offline
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film version of The Gentleman From paris

I have seen the film .It stars Joseph Cotten as Poe.I havent seen it for many years and it has got a different title.Ican get more details if anyone is interested.Does anyone know of any more filmed versions of JDC.I know there is a film version of The Emperors Snuffbox again with a different title.
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Old March 23rd, 2002, 08:22 AM
awrobins awrobins is offline
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The film of "Gentleman from Paris" is called THE MAN WITH A CLOAK (1951). It is scheduled to be shown on Turner Classic Movies (if you're is the US and have it) on April 23 at 12:45 p.m. ET and May 15 at 1:30 p.m. ET. I've never seen the filmed verison of THE EMPEROR'S SNUFF BOX, but the title is THAT WOMAN OPPOSITE (1957). There was a French adaption of THE BURNING COURT called LA CHAMBRE ARDENTE, but I haven't seen that either. I did see a television movie of "Cabin B-13" called TREACHEROUS CROSSING (1992); if I hadn't know the original radio play I would have thought it was okay, but I don't think the screenwriter really "got" Carr's story.

In fact this is one of my pet peeves; a lot of television and film adaptations of mysteries seem to be done by writers who, whatever their other talents may be, don't seem to understand the puzzles of the detective stories they adapt--sometimes essential clues are left out; sometimes clues are included but never explained (though that may be because of editing, and isn't confined to television; I've seen a radio script of an Anthony Berkeley novel in the BBC Play Library in which the final scene was deleted--the scene in which the murderer's identity is revealed). Even Billy Wilder's otherwise excellent adaptation of Agatha Christie's WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION seems to me not to understand the puzzle element. This movie is an excellent courtroom drama, it's funny, the characterization is better than in Christie's play--but when I read the play I was taken completely off guard by the revelation of the murderer's identity, whereas I felt the movie telegraphed the ending. (Also, the play has, as I recall, a terrific moment in which a witness takes the Bible in her left hand, showing that she's left-handed. The movie also has this moment, but nothing is made of it.)

While I'm on this, since the Agatha Christie movies have been mentioned in another thread, I'll pontificate some more. I agree that the first adaptation of TEN LITTLE INDIANS (Rene Clair's AND THEN THERE WERE NONE) is by far the best. The 1960's version is okay but no more, the 1989 version was atrocious (II haven't seen the 1970's version). Clair's AND THEN THERE WERE NONE and Wilder's WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION are the best film adaptations of Christie--both my directors known for comedies. I know MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS was a hit, and it's well done, but I found it a bit dull--I don't think the book is one of Christie's best, and a story set on a train doesn't lend itself to film (though Hitchcock managed it), especially such a long film. I liked the film of DEATH ON THE NILE, though as I recall it didn't do so well; for once the screenplay was by someone who understood mysteries--Anthony Shaffer did a fine job adapting it, dropping some characters and combining others. (Christie's novel DEATH ON THE NILE has a brilliant puzzle, but it stretched even my willingness to suspend belief. As I recall, in the novel the passengers on the boat included, in addition to Poirot and Colonel Race, three murderers, an embezzler and would-be murderer, a blackmailer, a jewel thief, a kleptomaniac, a dipsomaniac, and so on. There's nothing like a boat cruise to relax from the stress of life.) Shaffer did two other Christie film adapatations, but I've been puzzled by the choice of books. The film of EVIL UNDER THE SUN came out four years after DEATH ON THE NILE; the movie is fun, but this book has almost the same plot as DEATH ON THE NILE. APPONTMENT WITH DEATH is based on probably the worst Poirot novel until the end of Christie's life.

I'll resist the urge to waste more bandwidth on other Christie film adapations, most of which are pretty dire, but I'd be interested to hear other opinions. One more comment, to go way back to the original post in this thread (and Carr)--I rather like Patrick Rossiter; I find him an amusing and likeable detective. But whether he would have worked for a series I don't know.

Arthur
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Old March 24th, 2002, 04:19 PM
stoke_moran stoke_moran is offline
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Agatha Christie

Which Anthony Berkeley novel was filmed? TRIAL & ERROR could work, with a few changes, but would spoil the book's finish. Incidentally, I believe TRIAL & ERROR was filmed in the 1950s.

Many Agatha Christie films are particularly poor. The 1970s version of TEN LITTLE INDIANS, set in Baghdad, is poor and badly acted; and the 1989 one is, as you say, atrocious (it seems more like bad farce than Agatha Christie). I have never been able to understand the appeal of MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS (the film, that is, not the book, which I think is justly famous): Albert Finney is nothing like Poirot, and the film is static (there is very little character interaction in this one--only interviewing). I remember liking DEATH ON THE NILE when I saw it eight years ago; Shaffer, I think, wrote a few detective novels--Barzun & Taylor thought their character was "too much like a Carr-Dickson sleuth". Why do you think APPOINTMENT WITH DEATH is Christie's poorest Poirot? Certainly the film is very poor, but the book itself is good fun and a good puzzle (although the multiple discoveries of the body and the multiple marriages are both beyondn belief). The Poorest Poirots, I feel, are THE BIG FOUR (Poirot acts out of character throughout, very silly story); THE CLOCKS (complete let-down--should never have been written); and THIRD GIRL (Christie very out of her depth, if drowning valiantly).

On the other hand, the B.B.C. & L.W.T. adaptations have been excellent. Although I am not a fan of Miss Marple (she is too meek and mild compared to Mrs. Bradley), Joan Hickson is Miss Marple to the life, and the casting is excellent. Although several liberties have been taken with the David Suchet series (e.g., Miss Lemon), they are uniformly excellent--my main complaint with the series is that the episodes are too short: the Miss Marples were all around 3 hours, the Poirots half that length, so they are unable to concentrate on clueing.

Regards,

Nick Fuller
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Old March 24th, 2002, 06:27 PM
awrobins awrobins is offline
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Actually, it was a radio play, not a film, of Berkeley that left out the last scene (I can't post the title without giving away something to those who haven't read it; e-mail me privately at awrobins@yahoo.com if you want to know the title). I'm a big Berkeley fan (one of my favourite Golden Age authors along with Crispin and Carr; Agatha Christie, Nicholas Blake, and a couple of others are close behind)--when I have time I hope to write more about him here. Yes, I think TRIAL AND ERROR would work as a film, probably best as a TV film in the MYSTERY series. It was indeed filmed, in the 1940's I think, as FLIGHT FROM DESTINY--another botched job; a completely differnet ending from the book, and there was NO humour in the film (I think TRIAL AND ERROR is one of the funniest non-Wodehouse novels I've ever read)--it was done almost as a film noir.

You're right, APPOINTMENT WITH DEATH isn't as bad as THE BIG FOUR (which Christie wrote after her "disappearance," obviously when she was in no shape to write, and with "help" from a relative, as I recall) or some of her last books. I haven't read it in over 20 years, so maybe it's not as bad as I think. But I remember being annoyed at the way every single character seemed to have found the body and said nothing, and I found the solution (which I guessed early for once) an anticlimax, though the clue might have worked well enough in a short story.

I thought the Joan Hickson adaptations were quite good, though I didn't see much of them (I wasn't including them in the TV productions I criticised). The Suchet Poirot series was excellently acted, but the episodes I saw (I didn't see them all, so again maybe I'm unfair) all seemed to botch the puzzle element (I'm less interested in a surprise revelation of "whodunit" than in clues that allow the reader/viewer to figure out the solution in advance), and they all seemed to end with a chase, which I find boring. But it's a matter of taste.

Best wishes,

Arthur Robinson
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Old March 25th, 2002, 08:24 AM
Keith Keith is offline
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I agree with your comments regarding Poirot.You are not given clues so it is not playing the game.The Murder of Roger Ackroyd was a particularly bad adaptation complete with silly chase at the end completely ruining the tone of the book.Have you read Who Killed Roger Ackroyd? by Patrick Baynaud .It completely destroys Poirots theory. It is all about truth reality and illusion although the tone is rather too serious the solution he puts forward is very plausible.Perhaps there are other cases when the solution put forward by the little Belgian are incorrect.Perhaps Dr Fell got it completely wrong in The Hollow Man.I do believe that Poirot does indeed get it wrong and that Agatha Christie is playing a double-sided game with us.I will explain why if you email me or just read the book.Ican be contacted on keith.blaney@npower.com
Does anyone agree with me that Ngaio Marsh is much overrated and doesnt really play fair as there are almost no clues given to the reader.And she uses the same plot device again and again whereby the first obvious suspect is exonerated only to be found the murderer at the end of the book.Death in a White Tie is an exception and is an all-time favourite of mine but too many of the rest are just interrogation to establish where people were etc.
Also the murders do not generally occur until halfway through the book.I like mine done in the first couple of chapters otherwise Idont feel the book has really started until the first body turns up.
The Sergeant cribb mysteries were faithfully adapted for tv.I would love a rerun of them.As was Malice Aforethought by Francis Iles.Does the owner of this site mind that the subject matter recently is not 100% JDC?
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Old March 26th, 2002, 09:57 AM
awrobins awrobins is offline
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I haven't read WHO KILLED ROGER ACKROYD? but I've heard a little about it, and wondered whether it was supposed to be a spoof or serious. I wrote an alternative "revisionist" solution of THE MURDER OF ROGER ACKROYD as a joke over 20 years ago, as a series I did for a sister who was also an Agatha Christie fan. From what I've heard, I suspect the author of this book came up with the same "culprit" as I did. I won't post the solution here because it may not be of general interest to Carr fans, and more importantly I don't want to give away the solution of THE MURDER OF ROGER ACKROYD to anyone who hasn't read it (if you haven't--read it!), but if anyone is interested, just e-mail me privately at awrobins@yahoo.com. (I didn't do any revisionist solution of Carr's books because I hadn't read any of them at that time.)
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Old March 26th, 2002, 01:56 PM
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An interesting thread

Quote:
The film of "Gentleman from Paris" is called THE MAN WITH A CLOAK (1951). It is scheduled to be shown on Turner Classic Movies (if you're is the US and have it) on April 23 at 12:45 p.m. ET and May 15 at 1:30 p.m. ET
I'm going to set my TIVO! Now that I think of it I will add the other Carr movie titles on my TIVO watch list.

Quote:
I did see a television movie of "Cabin B-13" called TREACHEROUS CROSSING (1992); if I hadn't know the original radio play I would have thought it was okay, but I don't think the screenwriter really "got" Carr's story.
I just recently listened to the original Suspense recording of Cabin B-13. It is quite a good story and well acted. It was also one of the few Carr works that I've been able to 100% solve. Although, it uses one of the mystery gimmicks that I really dislike:

Spoiler
The gimmick being this: A character says something along the lines of, "I am positive no one else entered the room other than the guests that were seated at the dining table". Of course, he means that no other GUESTS entered the room, but he didn't think to mention the waiter since noone ever notices the waiters... The same kind of gimmick is used in Cabin B-13 except this time the hair that is being split is that of ships passangers and ships staff.


Btw, if you want to use the spoiler feature but don't know how, read this

Quote:
Does the owner of this site mind that the subject matter recently is not 100% JDC?
No, I don't mind. But for replies that are completely "off topic" it is probably better to create a new thread either in the appropriate author forum or in the general forum.
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Old March 27th, 2002, 02:35 AM
Keith Keith is offline
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I think we have been short changed by the Movie Industry with adaptations.Mostly the books are butchered by scriptwriters and bear little comparison to what the author wrote.Here are some of my favourite film adaptations in no particular order.Apolgies to those I have missed!!
Laura
And Then There were None
Les Diaboliques
Green For Danger
The Quiller Memorandum(not really a mystery but JDC described it as the best spy story he had ever read).
Rebecca
The Big Sleep (the Bogart one!!)
Death on the Nile
The Lady Vanishes(the Hitchcock One)
The Spiral Staircase
The Hound of the Baskervilles(I like the Basil Rathbone and the Peter Cushing versions)
The Ipcress File(not a true adaptation of the book but a brilliant film anyway)
Funeral In Berlin
Double Indemnity
Suspicion(Hitchcocks adaptation of Before the Fact)
Vertigo
The Innocents(adapted from The Turn of the Screw)
The 39 steps(any of the 3 versions)
The Franchise Affair
The Black Windmill(from Clive Egletons Seven Days to a Killing)
Journey Into Fear
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Old September 2nd, 2004, 07:52 AM
Patrick Gore Patrick Gore is offline
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Re: Carr's Other Detectives

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Originally Posted by awrobins
APPONTMENT WITH DEATH is based on probably the worst Poirot novel until the end of Christie's life.
Interesting. It's one of (if not the only) 30s Poirot I've missed (picked it up a few times, couldn't get into it). What qualifies it as "worst" in your view? Funny, but Christie thought it good enough to dramatize for the stage (sans Poirot). Other Poirot novels from Christie's best years that might qualify as among the worst would be Dumb Witness, Hickory Dickory Dock, Murder in Mesopotamia (ridiculous), and Three Act Tragedy.

Second, yes it is interesting that The Lady Vanishes manages to be train-bound but involving, while Orient Express, well, doesn't. Curiously, however, Lumet seems to make nods to TLV throughout Orient Express, the make-up and costuming for the Princess Dragomiroff (played by Wendy Hiller, who was wonderful as Eliza Dolittle in the 1939 Pygmalion) distinctly recalling that of one of the villains in Hitchcock's movie, though I forget that character's name.

Cheers,
Brian

Last edited by Patrick Gore; September 2nd, 2004 at 08:19 AM.
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Old September 2nd, 2004, 07:57 AM
Patrick Gore Patrick Gore is offline
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Re: Agatha Christie

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Originally Posted by stoke_moran
The Poorest Poirots, I feel, are THE BIG FOUR (Poirot acts out of character throughout, very silly story); THE CLOCKS (complete let-down--should never have been written); and THIRD GIRL (Christie very out of her depth, if drowning valiantly).
Agreed, but I think Arthur was referring to the worst Poirots from Christie's best years (before the "end of her life" he wrote) -- and The Clocks and Third Girl are both late works. But thanks for rightly pointing out that The Clocks is a let-down -- what a great premise, what a lame "explanation" (if it can be called that) -- it's ridiculous how that book winds up on many lists of the best Christies.
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Old September 2nd, 2004, 08:04 AM
Patrick Gore Patrick Gore is offline
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Re: Carr's Other Detectives

Quote:
Originally Posted by awrobins
The Suchet Poirot series was excellently acted, but the episodes I saw (I didn't see them all, so again maybe I'm unfair) all seemed to botch the puzzle element (I'm less interested in a surprise revelation of "whodunit" than in clues that allow the reader/viewer to figure out the solution in advance), and they all seemed to end with a chase, which I find boring. But it's a matter of taste.
and Keith wrote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd was a particularly bad adaptation complete with silly chase at the end completely ruining the tone of the book.
Yes, this film was a complete catastrophe. Even the narrative gimmick gets fouled up, thus spoiling the whole thing, and moreover ruining one of Christie's best surprises for anybody who hasn't read the book. This film is by far the worst Christie adaptation I've ever seen, far worse than, say, the goofy Margaret Rutherford Marple films of the 60s.

However, I thought the adaptation of Peril at End House superior to the novel, mostly because of the superb evocation of Jazz Age England -- which Christie lacked either the ability or the desire to achieve in the novel.I also liked the adaptation of The Mysterious Affair at Styles.

I should add that the problem with the puzzle in adaptations of the short stories might (I say might) rest with Christie rather than her adaptors. The stories in Poirot Investigates are for the most part not fair-play (I can only recall specifically the fact that Poirot solves "The Veiled Lady" using evidence not known to the reader) and even the superior ones in The Labors of Hercules are not as fairly clued as the novels.

Best,
Brian

Last edited by Patrick Gore; September 2nd, 2004 at 08:28 AM.
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Old September 2nd, 2004, 08:12 AM
Patrick Gore Patrick Gore is offline
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Re: Carr's Other Detectives

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Originally Posted by Keith
Does anyone agree with me that Ngaio Marsh is much overrated and doesnt really play fair as there are almost no clues given to the reader.And she uses the same plot device again and again whereby the first obvious suspect is exonerated only to be found the murderer at the end of the book.Death in a White Tie is an exception and is an all-time favourite of mine but too many of the rest are just interrogation to establish where people were etc.
Also the murders do not generally occur until halfway through the book.I like mine done in the first couple of chapters otherwise I dont feel the book has really started until the first body turns up.
Wow, sorry about my dozen replies, but this thread is great. Yeah, Keith, I'm not crazy about Marsh either, for just the reasons you say. Have you read False Scent? Murder deferred to half way point, with meandering and not very interesting dramatics between theater people taking up the first chapters, then detective comes and we have to read on as everything we witnessed gets elicited from them again! We learn almost nothing new.And the method is ridiculous (and totally obvious, but still ridiculous).

Mystery writers should not defer the murder unless they can create characters worth reading about. That's why Towards Zero by Agatha Christie also (IMO) is an ambitious failure. However, I will say that Marsh seemed to get it right in Final Curtain, where I found the characters perversely interesting enough to engage my interest before the body turned up.

Finally, I haven't read Death in a White Tie, but thanks to your suggestion, I will.

Brian

Last edited by Patrick Gore; September 2nd, 2004 at 08:21 AM.
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Old September 2nd, 2004, 08:16 AM
Patrick Gore Patrick Gore is offline
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Re: Carr's Other Detectives

Quote:
Spoiler
The gimmick being this: A character says something along the lines of, "I am positive no one else entered the room other than the guests that were seated at the dining table". Of course, he means that no other GUESTS entered the room, but he didn't think to mention the waiter since noone ever notices the waiters... The same kind of gimmick is used in Cabin B-13 except this time the hair that is being split is that of ships passangers and ships staff.
For me, the problem with this gimmick isn't that it's cheating (nor that it's classist, since usually the point is to satirize or critique classism) but that it's become a cliche. Chesterton used it in at least three Father Brown stories, and Christie used a variation on it (I think brilliantly) in one of the best Poirots of the thirties (Death in the Air) as well as in one of the worst (Three Act Tragedy). At this point it's as predictable a trick as having the locked-room murder
Spoiler
be performed right in front of the eyes of the witnesses, who think they have discovered the victim already dead (cf. Carr's "The Locked Room," Chesterton's "The Wrong Shape," Zangwill's The Big Bow Mystery, Christie's "Idol House of Astarte" from The Thirteen Problems,the pilot episode of Blacke's Magic,and on and on),

although I should add that I designed and hosted a murder party a few years ago where that's exactly how it was done. Hypocrisy, I know, but nobody figured it out.

Brian

Last edited by Patrick Gore; September 2nd, 2004 at 08:25 AM.
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Old September 2nd, 2004, 08:31 AM
Patrick Gore Patrick Gore is offline
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Re: Carr's Other Detectives

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Originally Posted by Keith
Here are some of my favourite film adaptations in no particular order.
What do you think of The Ministry of Fear? I haven't read the novel, but the film is quite an excellent chase film/whodunnit, despite the bland Ray Milland (would have been better with Cary Grant or Joseph Cotten in the lead).
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