Movie Review: Murder on the Orient Express (2017)

by Brad Nelson4/7/18
This is a Kenneth Branagh project in which he directs and plays the main character, Belgian private detective Hercule Poirot. This is a movie about the man and his mustache.

I Googled “Belgian mustaches 1910” to try to see what was typical of the era. This one is in the ballpark of the strange thing that co-stars in this movie with Branagh. Here’s a look at Albert Phinney as Poirot in the 1974 movie. Here’s David Suchet in the 2010 production. The latter two men are finicky dapper Belgian gentlemen wearing a mustache. In the case of Branagh, the mustache seems to be wearing him.

I’m going to assume that very few don’t know the general plot of Murder on the Orient Express and thus the ending as well. If you want a spoiler alert here it is: They all did it. The seasoned Agatha Christie fan is thus left to enjoy the characters. There will be no surprises in this one (other than the weird opening scene with Poirot at the Wailing Wall solving a case we don’t know about nor care about).

Branagh is okay as Poirot. The accent and attitude seem right, although they over-do the “finicky” aspect of Poirot. Instead of weaving these characteristics into the story as they go along, they are presented in a more “stop the picture” way. Over-hairy mustache aside, I would not say his portrayal of Poirot is the main problem with the movie. He is clearly passable.

I’ve read several reviews (most of them far more critical than I’m going to be). The sense out there is that Branagh spent too much time filming himself, that there was too much CGI, and that the cast was rather dull. Given that the Mustache probably was getting a percentage of the gross and that Poirot is the man character, watching him work is what this film is all about. The second (too much CGI) is also gratuitous. There are a lot of CGI scenes of the train going through the mountains, not unlike saturation-enhanced scenes you would have seen in Polar Express. Again, objection denied. That didn’t bother me.

The third objection is definitely sustained. In the 1974 movie (although one could say Phinney was an iffy Poirot compared to David Suchet) you had: Lauren Bacall, Martin Balsam, Ingrid Bergman, Jacqueline Bisset, Sean Connery, John Gielgud, Anthony Perkins, Vanessa Redgrave, Richard Widmark, and Michael York. The second-tier actors (such as Colin Blakely and Rachel Roberts) fill in nicely as well.

Because there’s little doubt about who-done-it, this movie is necessarily all about the ensemble. Either they are charismatic and fun to watch or they are not. The 2017 movie has a few names that might be big in today’s pop culture but who are not a blip on my radar. But the names I recognize are: Penelope Cruz (awful), Derek Jacobi (badly used and sleepwalking through this one), Michelle Pfeiffer (one of the few who seemed like she belonged here), Judi Dench (dame or not, she’s boring), Willem Dafoe (misused), and I apologize for not recognizing a myriad other names on the list.

I agree with many reviewers who say that the only stand-out in this collection of characters is Johnny Depp as the guy who doesn’t finish the train trip. He’s the bad guy. Oh…wouldn’t it have been a great movie if he had, one by one, murdered some of these other painful-to-watch actors.

I think because this story is so well known, I would have been fine with the plot being completely restructured so that I did not know who-done-it. Still, there are a few gratuitous changes (haven’t read the book) thrown in as it is. Poirot is shot. He’s in a brief fist fight. Poirot gives chase to a character outside the train and down below the trestle bridge. One of the passengers is stabbed as part of the impromptu coverup. But there’s nothing that changes the basic structure.

And where I most suffered from boredom was Branagh’s (as Poirot) uncovering of the conspiracy and the explanation of the “they all done it” plot. This is a plot that even in the best of times (such as the first time I ever saw any production of Murder on the Orient Express) is a stretch. But I think in the 1974 movie, in particular, the conclusion is uncovered at a pace we can keep up with and that seems logical.

In this 2017 remake, it’s just a mess. Too complicated. Too wordy. Too gadgety. Branagh tries to stage a dramatic confrontation at the end with all the participants lined up in a tunnel. And it is indeed better than what has come before. But by this time the movie had lost me. I just didn’t care. But for the first 35 minutes or so (a recurring theme in movies these day), it was watchable.

One other note, and I mention this only because I was so pleased to see another cinematic PC radar detector in operation. There’s a black doctor in the cast and we’re never able to forget that he is black. One reviewer writes:

What the heck was Branaugh thinking? The only thing worse than dumbing down and sexing up the story with psychopathic violence and creepy lechers was the hitting- you-over-the-head-with-oh-so-unsubtle white savior references to the terrible evils of RACISM!!! Please, someone save us from Hollywood white male liberals bending over backwards to be politically correct about race and thinking they are sooooo progressive while maintaining the worst female madonna/whore lampshade character tropes and adding stabbings, guns, fist fights and shootings not in the original story.

The PC parade started early in this movie when Branagh’s Poirot gave stop-the-picture close-up praise to a fellow named Mohammed. Religion-of-peace message received, Ken.

But this kind of stupid virtue signally, if anything, provided some entertainment value (if unintended) for a movie that was otherwise lacking it. My suggestion is to go back and re-watch the 1974 classic. Don’t waste time on this one.


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I like books, nature, politics, old movies, Ronald Reagan (you get sort of a three-fer with that one), and the founding ideals of this country. We are the Shining City on the Hill — or ought to be. However, our land has been poisoned by Utopian aspirations and feel-good bromides. Both have replaced wisdom and facts.
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37 Responses to Movie Review: Murder on the Orient Express (2017)

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    Actually, I never saw the 1974 version, though I heard enough about it to be familiar with the plot. I also never read the book, though we had a copy. My reading familiarity with Christie consists of her 3 best known plays and the stories on which they’re based.

    Randall Garrett parodied the story in a Lord Darcy novel, The Napoli Express.

    Addendum: That’s actually a short story, not a novel. I suppose I was tripped up by the original being a novel.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I’m still working my way through the Randall Garrett “Megapack” of 25 stories. I’ve enjoyed it so far.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Besides the Darcy stories, he did a lot of other good stuff. “The Best Policy” (how to lie by telling the strict truth) and “Despoilers of the Golden Empire” (with a surprise ending that I will NOT reveal here — though I’d love to discuss it with people who know it) are excellent. There’s also a story (co-written by Robert Silverberg) with a crime-solving nun (it was written to sell to Anthony Boucher) in which a murdered cat is the key clue.

  2. Steve Lancaster says:

    I have not read any Agatha Christy in over 50 years. I recall the 74 movie and that it was fun entertainment. Remakes are the centerpiece of current Hollywood thinking. It seems its either a comic book hero or a rehash of a mildly successful movie. Frankly, I’m tired of it. More than likely there will be a remake of the original Star Wars by the time I turn 90, although, it could be argued that every Star Wars movie after the first is a remake.

    Kenneth Branagh is a talented actor, not so much as a director. Henery 5th was actually one of his best efforts, but you could say that was a remake also. I hope his future efforts are more original.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      “Henery”? You wouldn’t happen to be a Herman’s Hermits fan, would you? I can’t think of anyone else who might spell it that way.

      • Steve Lancaster says:

        Just a typo should have been Hen3ry. The 3 is silent.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          Oh, a Tom Lehrer fan. That makes sense. “And we will all go together when we go, every Hottentot and every Eskimo.” He couldn’t sing that today.

          • Steve Lancaster says:

            A lot of 1960s satire is relevant today, especially Tom Lehrer.

            It Makes a fellow proud to be a soldier, cracks my oldest grandsons crack up. Both are Army and thankfully out. Then there is poisoning pigeons in the park, the masochism tango, MLF lullaby (one of the fingers on the button will be German; MLF will scare Brezhnev, I hope he is half as scared as I). And of course the classic, So long mom, I’m off to drop the bomb.

            I have used these to illustrate points in graduate classes. The snowflakes, being the humorless assholes they are, merely sit quietly as they don’t get it and most likely never will.

            • Timothy Lane says:

              And then there’s “Pollution” (“If the hoods don’t get you, the monoxide will”), “Wernher von Braun”. (“Some have harsh words for this man of renown, but some think our attitude should be one of gratitude. Like the widows and cripples in old London town, who owe their large pensions to Wernher von Braun.”) I think you would also add “Who’s Next?” to your list. And earlier songs such as “I Wanna Go Back to Dixie”, “Lobachevsky”, “The Wild West is Where I Wanna Be” about “the land of the old AEC”, and “The Irish Ballad”.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      This is not a horrible movie, Steve, but a completely forgettable one except for the connection to an Agatha Christie story. But it would be truly pointless to watch it. There is no element of which I would say (compared to the other two prominent products with Finney and Suchet) that is better. It does the Orient Express shtick and that may be enough for many. But in my humble opinion, the story (especially in any retelling — we know how this ends) is hanging by a thread already and simply must have outstanding characters and dialogue to make it interesting. I honestly can’t think of one moment where I would say, “But you gotta see this.” Nothing.

  3. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    Thanks for the warning.

    I am not a great fan of Branagh. To my mind, he is one of those classical actors who does not translate well into modern or semi-modern stories.

    I have seen both the Finney and Suchet versions and, on balance, preferred the Suchet version. Of course, the all-star cast in the 1974 version was something to enjoy, but I found the last shot in the Suchet version absolutely fantastic. How Suchet could show the soul of Perot with one face shot is amazing.

    David Suchet is Hercule Poirot just like Jeremy Brett is Sherlock Holmes.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I’m glad to provide the service, Mr. Kung. I despised “The Shape of Water,” although it was technically a little more interesting to watch. But his movie….sheesh…I guess I’m losing my touch. Read more for that one review I quoted which noted some of the PC garbage:

      Only a fool would take one of the masterpieces of British literature by the great Agatha Christie and make it into a pandering show of ego and arrogance, while insulting the audience’s intelligence and perverting Christie’s moral dilemma on the definition of justice into a tale of vigilantism and revenge by a bunch of thugs little better than the man they murdered. I am HORRIFIED to think a whole new generation will think THIS detritus has anything to do with Agatha Christie’s novel. If I could, I would give this film negative stars.

      Do yourself a favor. Watch David Suchet’s virtuoso performance in the 2010 Murder on the Orient Express. That production did Christie justice and then some. Or better yet, read the book. Remember reading? Then you’ll know that Branaugh should be tarred and feathered for what he did to her epic magnum opus.

      No, Ken, you didn’t have to mutate Christie’s story to pander to today’s audiences. She is literally the best selling author of all time. Christie needs no help. She appealed to people’s humanity and intelligence, creating one of the most popular characters in the history of literature, not to mention a pantheon of assertive female characters and humane male characters, breaking stereotypes 80 years ago that, unfortunately, still survive today. All you did was play to the lowest common denominator, appealing to our baser instincts while maintaining arguably the most brilliant whodunnit plot of all time. So, new audiences think this “cheesy cheeseburger” is great, not realizing that they could have had filet mignon.

      Or maybe that was you writing under a pseudonym. Either way, I think I’m losing my touch. But I just couldn’t get worked up over it. I guess as they say, the opposite of love truly is indifference, not hate.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Not only is Christie possibly the world’s best-selling author ever, but some of her books are especially popular, including this. According to wikipedia, her masterpiece And Then There Were None is the best-selling mystery of all time, and within the top 10 of all novels. I saw the first 2 movie versions before I read the book, so the downbeat climax was a stunner.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        the opposite of love truly is indifference, not hate

        I like that saying. Hate takes a lot of energy so the object of one’s hate must be worth the expenditure of energy.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        Only a fool would take one of the masterpieces of British literature by the great Agatha Christie

        While I agree with the writer’s sentiment regarding the perversion of the story, I find his statement about this being a “masterpiece” of British literature, a bit over-the-top. Christie is a very competent writer who could spin both simple and overly-complicated and unlikely plots. Her works could be entertaining and fun, but to use the term “masterpiece” …..????

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          I’ve never read any Christie. But I find her characters (as dramatized for film and TV) to be wonderful. I liked Joan Hickson as Miss Marple, David Suchet as Hercule Poirot, Philip Jackson as Inspector Japp (a truly great character, whatever the portrayal may have been in the book), Pauline Moran as Miss Lemon, and another great inspector (later superintendent), David Horovitch as Inspector Slack.

          The Christie plots are often eye-rollingly bad. There are some good ones too, for sure. But the fun is in the personality of the characters (and often the villains), not the crime. The crime is a mere excuse to have this get-together.

          I suspect that after having seen most of the TV and movie productions made of her work (although I never took to the later Miss Marple series) that I would be bored by the books. Still, in terms of great literature, I’d probably rather read Christie than James Joyce. I quite agree that it’s likely an overstatement to put Christie up there with Shakespeare. But I can’t help but have a natural affinity for anyone defending at least good works from being bastardized by modern politically correct hacks or just shallow enthusiasts.

          • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

            I have read a number of Christie works and they are generally entertaining, if not great literature.

            Her books are like they are written for a TV or movie production. And on the whole, I believe the movies of her books, which I have seen, are better than the books themselves.

            I found Michael Crichton’s works to be similar to Christie’s in that regard. They were almost like reading movie scripts.

            I agree that the characters are what makes the books. Lee Child, the author of the Jack Reacher books said that he determined that “characters” makes interesting books, so when he started writing he had to develop a memorable person to build stories around, not vice-versa.

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              I wouldn’t doubt that Crichton wrote some of his books with an eye to making a movie.

              I regards to my comment about a Christie plot being little more than an excuse to bring the personalities together, consider how man Christie stories involve people getting together for a party or for a holiday. Who waits until a party to kill someone, especially when a world-class detective has been invited to the party as well?

              The Miss-Marple-inspired Murder She Wrote had a running gag that wherever Jessica Fletcher showed up, she was sure to bring a murder with her.

              • Timothy Lane says:

                Well, in And Then There Were None there was a weekend get-together that was actually an excuse to murder those particular individuals. The only detective among them was no Poirot, and the next closest thing to one was the murderer.

                Yes, I remember that joke about Jessica Fletcher. I hate to think what the murder rate of Cabot Cove was.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      David Suchet is Hercule Poirot just like Jeremy Brett is Sherlock Holmes.

      Agreed. And Branagh did a good imitation of Poirot (and I don’t necessarily mean that as a back-handed compliment…good acting, after all, is imitation, at least partially).

      But Suchet became Poirot. Branagh had this really low-brow running gag of trying to show Poirot’s fastidiousness by his requirement that his breakfast eggs be exactly the same size.

      First off, the real Poirot would likely be more concerned that they were cooked exactly correctly, not that both eggs be the same size. Be that as it may, when Branagh was doing this shtick (both as the actor and the director), it was one of those “Stop the tape!” moments when we were being force-fed Poirot’s idiosyncrasies in condensed form. It was the director saying, “You get it, kiddies? This is called ‘character development.’ Poirot liked everything to be perfect.”

      In the David Suchet series, much of the time not much was made of it. It was woven into the action. Poirot would be having a conversation (or interrogation, most likely) in someone’s library, for instance. And while engaging his craft of detecting he would often compulsively straighten a few vases on the mantlepiece. But the point is, the action didn’t stop so some ham-fisted director could say, “See! Look at how fastigious he is!”

      I don’t think Branagh is a clown. But it occurs to me that Progressivism reverts people to children.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Some of that may be typical upper-class British behavior. In Paul Carell’s The Foxes of the Desert, he quotes a German boobytrap expert. The latter mentions that one trick he might pull is to set a picture askew with a hidden boobytrap attached. A typical Tommy, if he even got the chance to see it, wouldn’t care. But an officer would instinctively straighten it out — and go kablooey.

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          set a picture askew with a hidden boobytrap attached. A typical Tommy, if he even got the chance to see it, wouldn’t care. But an officer would instinctively straighten it out — and go kablooey.

          Apparently, this was also done in Europe after the Normandy invasion.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            This was probably a standard trick. I know they did a lot of damage with booby traps after the withdrew from Naples in 1943.

            Incidentally, I checked the wikipedia entry on Hercule Poirot. It seems his eccentricity largely involved his being an extreme, obsessive-compulsive neat freak. This leads me to wondering how he would have done as Felix Unger from The Odd Couple. Oddly, Tony Randall is listed as one of those who has played Poirot.

            • Steve Lancaster says:

              I suggest that all good detectives in fiction and real life must be OCD. Those I have known as police and intelligence agents exhibit all the signs.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Here is that book: The Foxes of the Desert. I imagine HER-queue-leez (Poirot had to correct people about 3 or 4 times in this movie…but they never got his last name wrong) wouldn’t have lasted long, compulsive straightener-upper as he was.

          But I side with Hercule. What virtue is there in being a disorganized slob? It can be taken too far. But in this day and age, I doubt that it often is.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            I think the description of the Desert War as “one of the most bitterly fought” is a bit of an exaggeration. There were never any SS there, which is what tended to make a campaign really bitter. Rommel was also an old fogey in terms of behavior — no murdering prisoners or other atrocities. He titled his memoir (which he probably never completed) Krieg ohne Hass — War Without Hate. The British in the spring of 1942 even issued an order to keep their troops from admiring him.

    • Rosalys says:

      “David Suchet is Hercule Poirot just like Jeremy Brett is Sherlock Holmes.”

      Absolutely!

  4. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I’ve not read And Then There Were None, Timothy. I guess that would be a good place to start.

    In the case of Miss Marple, much like Poirot, she’ll just happen to be the invited guest at some country manor. The difference here, of course, is that quite unlike Poirot, whose reputation precedes him, Miss Marple is just a forgettable kindly old doddering lady who, because of her tangential trains of thought, seems to be losing her marbles. They’re on-guard against Poirot (or should be), but Miss Marple is a non-factor to the criminal mind (but well revered by Scotland Yard, if only grudgingly so by Inspector Slack).

    Miss Marple, of course, is what we would call today the equivalent of a vast computerized social encyclopedia database. Her seek time for the information in no way matches a hard drive (which is part of her engaging dodder-old-lady shtick as she openly sifts the facts and appears to others as if she’s losing her mind). But her ability to put together seemingly unrelated facts dwarfs anything that Scotland Yard has. And her outward harmless persona allows her to collect facts and overhear conversations that other detectives would not be privy to.

    Poirot’s great gift is his fastidiousness. It’s his ability to find little things that are out of place which lead to big things in terms of figuring out who-done-it. Poirot is successful despite the fact that people know to be on guard against him.

    Sherlock Holmes has elements of both. Scotland Yard, similar to Slack’s attitude toward Marple, admires him, if often grudgingly so. Solving crime is apparently a very competitive endeavor, particularly within the police forces (at least as seen on TV). It’s fun to watch Lestrade slowly let down his guard and accept Holmes as a force of nature. He finally figures out that Holmes isn’t trying to steal anyone’s thunder. He’s just interested in solving puzzles, more or less. (He certainly, of course, also has a strong sense of justice.)

    Much like Marple (or Poirot, for that matter), he has access to people and facts that are not so easy for the police to get, thus Lestrade (and others of Scotland Yard) often denigrated Holmes’ success as a mere factor of him not having to operate within the constraints of the police, which is certainly true to some extent.

    Holmes is Poirot-like in that he is generally well-known to the public. And both share characteristics of compulsiveness although Holmes veers more toward single-mindedness when the game’s afoot, often forgoing such things as sleeping and eating. Poirot rarely, if ever, skips a meal. Comfort is always foremost on his mind. Comfort for Holmes is a non-factor when he’s in the midst of the hunt. It’s Watson, interestingly, who must always beg Holmes to take a moment and get something to eat, if only because Watson is starving.

    Of all three of these detectives, Holmes is the more plausible. Marple is a fun conceit. And someone like that might be in the position once, maybe twice, to help solve a murder. But not every bloody time she visits an old friend. Still, coincidences happen in novels (if they are to be a series) and Miss Marple begins to get a reputation, but more private (within the police) than with the public.

    Holmes, like Poirot, has made a profession of it. Unlike the classic brain-only detective, Holmes has a systematic and scientific approach foreshadowing where probably most real detective work resides today. Much like Poirot, he keeps good records (although with the help of Miss Lemon, one supposes that Poirot’s records are superior). Poirot is more plausible than Marple because he’s an ex-policeman, and one who is in the business and thus has the advantage of gaining constant experience.

    But even the true amateur, Miss Marple, is so good at what she does that word does get around and she is called in by friends. Interestingly, Inspector Slack has no use for her at first, despite the fact that Slack’s superiors would sometimes consult (and recommend) Marple. Marple also has some very high-up friends in Scotland Yard, much to Slack’s chagrin. Slack’s subordinate, Constable Lake, is friendly to Marple almost from the get-go and, unlike Slack’s negative attitude toward Marple, quickly sees that she is an asset. Lake perhaps shows that he is the better detective, but every police force needs an incorruptible, hard-working, bulldog-like cop who knows no fear (thus the wonderful misnomer of the name, “Slack”).

    John Castle played Inspector Craddock who eventually was presented as Marple’s nephew and was, of course, fully in line with consulting her. Marple’s genius was in gauging motivation in cases which had been intentionally muddled by the murderer. She could pull up one minuscule fact from her vast “little old gray cells” social registry to find a hidden motivation.

    In all cases the drama is made or not by the nuanced acting of the characters….often (in the case of all these great talents…Brett, Suchet, and Hickson) despite the sometimes bad directing or editing.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      I just checked Miss Marple out on wikipedia, and they had less information on her than you just provided. One thing I noticed is that one of her novels is Murder, She Said — and one actress who played her is Angela Lansbury. This makes the link to Jessica Fletcher even more obvious.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        As much as I publicly berate feminism and man-hating, I confess that I watched a lot of Joan Hickson playing Miss Marple and love her. She is somewhat a strange bird and ultimately shares a Holmesian distrust for mankind because of all she has seen. I wouldn’t call her cynical. But as polite as she is, I don’t think she trusts anyone too rapidly.

        Again, I haven’t read the books, but Agatha Christie seems complete bereft of political correctness and agitation-politics. This is certainly one reason I like the TV adaptations.

        A couple notable episodes with Hickson are “The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side,” “The Murder at the Vicarage” (with an excellent role for Paul Eddington as the vicar), “4:50 from Paddington,” and the especially gritty “A Murder is Announced.” For those who have not yet caught any of Hickson’s Miss Marple, those episodes aren’t a bad starting place.

        But in all the episodes, things don’t really get rolling until (usually) Inspector Slack arrives on the scene. This is a series in which they build up a history together so it’s hilarious to watch Slack momentarily lose his cool, such as in “The Murder at the Vicarage”:

        I thought it was looking too good to be true. I shoulda known better! Soon as I saw that nice looking, gray-haired cobra sliding about, I shoulda known better

        The effort that David Horovitch puts in (as Slack) to look annoyed is priceless. At times it seems Marple, not the murderer, is the biggest inconvenience in his day.

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          I have to agree with you that Joan Hickson is the best Miss Marple. Margret Rutherford was too ponderous, and Geraldine McEwan too light weight.

          I recall one scene where someone asked Miss Marple (Joan Hickson) how with so little exposure to the world, she was always able to determine who the culprit was. She said something to the effect that she could see all of human nature on display in St. Mary Mead.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            Mr. Kung, I’m glad you share my enthusiasm for Hickson. I haven’t actually seen (that I can recall) any of those other Marples although I knew a couple of them existed. I just never ran across them.

            One thing that makes for a good detective (at least a fictional one) is an eye for detail. It’s a charming idea that Miss Marple can learn all she needs to learn about human nature by her observations of St. Mary Mead. For a person with the acute powers of observation that the has, I wouldn’t doubt that for a minute.

            It’s funny watching her, because she’s so rarely shocked by anything. Reminds me of someone I know whose initials are “M.K.”

            All this talk of Marple has caused me to need a fix of the darling old lady (although Slack’s description of her as a gray-haired cobra has a ring of truth to it). I signed up for a free 7-day trial of BritBox which has Joan Hickson episodes on it. It may have another of the Marples as well. I’ll see how the service goes and report back. I want to finish the Blue Bloods and Call the Midwife episodes that are on Netflix and then maybe cancel it. Netflix is teetering on the verge of being junk. Oh, don’t get me wrong. They have a nice selection of junk, but it’s junk all the same.

            I tried to watch (for the second time now) an episode of “Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.” It’s billed as Agatha-Christie-like, even Marple-like. But it’s just more modern junk dressed up in period costumes.

            Additional: I found that Britbox has five seasons of “Sharpe” with Sean Bean.

            • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

              I tried to watch (for the second time now) an episode of “Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.”

              That was on PBS and I thought just about everything about it was trashy.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          I checked a bit further, as well as checking Jessica Fletcher and her show, an 4:50 to Paddington was the one given the title Murder, She Said at its first filming, a name that obviously hasn’t held up. Nowhere did they notice a similarity between Marple and Fletcher, though they have pointed out the similarity between Sleuth and Deathtrap (but not their similarities to Games).

          Christie certainly could be most un-PC, which is why a Cincinnati school was coerced by a local NAACP zealot into not staging her play Ten Little Indians. The play is based on her great novel And Then There Were None, which was originally titled (in Britain) Ten Little Niggers, a title that continued to be used there as late as the early ’60s. The nursery rhyme uses them (which apparently was the original version), the figurines on the dining table are blacks rather than Indians or soldiers, and there’s also the phrase “the nigger in the woodpile” (which survived the censored title).

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            I think it was in the book, “The Most Dangerous Enemy,” which is about the Battle of Britain, that one of the squadrons followed in the book had a dog mascot named…Nigger.

            I’m not sure if the way the British used it at the time is meant with the same disparaging severity as, say, Lyndon Johnson when used it.

            • Timothy Lane says:

              The word also shows up in some of the Father Brown stories, although Brown wasn’t a racist. On one occasion, after dealing with someone who happened to be brown-colored, he noted (I think to Flambeau) that he liked the color brown.

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                There’s a different Father Brown series on BritBox than that awful one now playing on PBS. I’ll report back.

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