Skip to main content

Ranking the Five Best On Screen Portrayals of Hercule Poirot

Before Kenneth Brnagh dons the iconic mustache in the highly-anticpated new adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express (in theatres November 10th), I thought I would take a look back at some of the most famous portryals of Hercule Poirot. Agatha Christie's signature creation, Poirot is peculiar. meticulous, and at times, bombastic and arrogant, but he always solves the case in the end, with the help of his little grey cells. Countless actors have portrayed the Belgian detective on stage, screen, or radio, including Charles Laughton, Austin Trevor, Orson Welles, and Ian Holm. But this list focuses on TV or film adaptations just becuase those are the ones I have seen.


5. Alfred Molina (2001)


Molina played Poirot in the 2001 TV movie version of Murder on the Orient Express. He's a terrific actor, generally, but his Poirot is not distinctive or memorable in any way. The accent is not great, the mustache is not great, and he is not eccentric enough to get away with being rude to people before the murder has even happened.


4. Tony Randall (1966)


This is sure to be a controversial ranking, as The Alphabet Murders bears little resemblance to the Christie novel on which it was obstensibly based. The whole movie, and especially Randall's performance, is played for laughs and it acts almost like of parody of the mystery genre. But Randall is just funny (and bizarre) enough to merit inclusion on this list.


3. Albert Finney (1974)


The only actor ever to recieve an Academy Award nomination for playing Poirot, Finney starred in the 1974 version of Murder of the Orient Express. He's almost ridiculously over-the-top in the film, chewing the secnery and trying to outdo his lengendary co-stars (among them Ingrid Bergman, John Gielgud, Lauren Bacall, Sean Connery, Anthony Perkins, and Vanessa Redgrave). Not everyone agrees, but I think he's a lot of fun to watch and keeps the Sidney Lumet film from entering the territory of the staid English murder mystery. Finney would be ranked higher if it weren't for his awful mustache. Christie never provided much detail on the specifics of Poirot's mustache, but she describes it as the biggest, most ridicoulous mustache in all of Europe. So why is Albert Finney's so small? I don't know, but, at least it looks like Branagh's version won't have the same problem.


2. Peter Ustinov (1978-88)


Ustinov played Poiort in three feature films and three TV movies over a ten year span. He emphasized the humor of Poriot more than previous actors did, and thus made Poirot a more enjoyable character to spend time with. On the other hand, he is physcially much larger than Christie describes Poirot as being, but I think he is one of the better Poirots because of his ability to be both hilarious and serious when the situation is no laughing matter, best on display in 1978's Death on the Nile.


1. David Suchet (1989-2013)


It didn't take Hercule Poirot to figure out who was going to be at the top of this list. The star of Agatha Christie's Poirot on ITV for 25 years, David Suchet is the definitive Poirot. Others came before and others have come since, both no actor will ever match Suchet. Perhaps because he had the benefit of 70 episodes in the role, but Suchet is the most true to Christie's creation. Fussy and peculair, but also brilliant and quick-witted, Suchet's Poirot is the most convincing screen portryal of the world's greatest detective that there will ever be.

How would you rank the actors who have played Poirot? How well do you think Kenneth Branagh will measure up? Let me know in the comments below!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

"Death on the Nile" Hits Theaters in 2019: Here's my Dream Cast

Following the success of Kenneth Branagh's film of Murder on the Orient Express, it was announced that a follow-up would be released on December 20, 2019. This time Branagh will direct and star in an adaptation of Christie's 1937 novel Death on the Nile. I loved that novel when I read it many years ago, and although I'd prefer to see Branagh adapt a Poirot novel that has not already gotten the big-screen treatment (like Death in the Clouds or Cards on the Table), I am looking forward to seeing a new interpretation. It's about a murder that occurs on a luxury steamer that is traveling down the Nile River in Egypt. Naturally, all the passengers are suspects. Since no casting information aside from Branagh has been announced, I thought I'd share some of my dream casting choices. 

For the role of Simon Doyle - Dan Stevens The former Dowton Abbey star is no stranger to period pieces and would be perfect fit for Simon Doyle, the new husband of Linnet Ridgeway and ex-finace…

"A Simple Favor" is an Offbeat Little Thriller that Adeptly Wields the Talents of Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively: Review

Film Review: A Simple Favor There's a sub-genre that Hollywood has brought back in the aftermath of the massive success of David Fincher's adaptation of Gone Girl a few years back; the domestic thriller, usually based on a best-selling novel and usually starring a woman. Other entrants in the genre include The Girl on the Train, the upcoming The Woman in the Window, and Paul Feig's new movie A Simple Favor. I am a huge proponent of the domestic thriller, as I love twisty and often fun mysteries that also have room for some social satire. With a script by Jessica Sharzer adapted from the Darcey Bell novel, A Simple Favor offers up everything I love about the genre in exciting and unexpected new ways. 
The movie stars Blake Lively as a gorgeous, sophisticated, and deeply unhappy mother who befriends a put-together mommy vlogger (Anna Kendrick), who plays detective when Lively's character suddenly disappears.Although it shares many similarities with Gone Girl,A Simple Favo…

Oscars: My Response to the Newly Announced Academy Award Changes

The Oscars are losing relevance or so says the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, which announced Wednesday a batch of changes to its annual telecast. The changes, designed to reverse a ratings dip in recent years, are the kind of desperate attempt to stay relevant that threatens the integrity of the whole affair. 

The first change, consistent with the Academy's desire to create a three-hour telecast, is that some awards will be presented during commercial breaks, with edited (meaning condensed) versions of the acceptance speeches airing later in the broadcast. It has not been determined which categories will be bumped, but I'll tell you right now it ain't gonna be Best Actress. The categories where celebrities are nominated will be shown live, and the tech categories won't be. This move is flat-out disrespectful to the men and women nominated in the below-the-line categories who deserve recognition for their vital contributions to movies. The Tony Awards fo…