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

"Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again" is a Fun Musical and Showcase for the Wonderful Lily James: Review

Film Review: Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again is the sequel to the 2008 film Mamma Mia , which was based on the stage musical of the same name, which itself was based on the songs of ABBA. If it seems like some of the fun would be lost with each additional iteration,   Here We Go Again proves otherwise. As unnecessary as it may be, the sequel is an exceptionally fun time at the movies. Following the Godfather Part II template, Here We Go Again is actually half-sequel, half-prequel, with a continuation of the first movie's plot interwoven with flashbacks depicting how Donna met each of her daughter's potential fathers and how she came to inexplicably live on a gorgeous Greek island, which was set up in the first film. Being the second musical to exclusively feature the music of ABBA, Here We Go Again  faces the inevitable challenge of the first movie having done nearly all of the Swedish group's best and most well-known songs. A number of th

"My Mind Turns Your Life Into Folklore": Why Taylor Swift's "Gold Rush" Is a Song About Songwriting

"My mind turns your life into folklore." That line, from the song "Gold Rush," is the only time the word "folklore" is spoken on either of Taylor Swift's 2020 records, Folklore and Evermore , the latter of which is where the song appears. The presence of the line indicates that "Gold Rush" is a pivotal song not only in Swift's lockdown duology, but in her maturation as a songwriter.  Swift's early albums often drew heavily from her own experiences, with fans and the media scouring her lyrics for clues as to which ex-boyfriend her numerous breakup songs referred. Her tumultuous dating life made as many headlines as her music, in part because it informed so much of the music. The discourse was often ridiculous and reductive, and thankfully, that period of her career is over (Swift has been in a relationship with the actor Joe Alwyn since 2016).  Both of her 2020 albums have their fair share of autobiographical songs, but they also see

Film Review: "Hail, Caesar!"

Film Review: "Hail, Caesar!" "Hail, Caesar!", the latest film from Joel and Ethan Coen, is set in Hollywood in the early 1950s, the final years before the collapse of the studio system. Josh Brolin plays Eddie Mannix, a studio exec whose job entails putting out all the fires started by the stars of the various films in production at the studio. These stars include George Clooney as an actor in a Ben Hur -like epic who gets kidnapped, Scarlett Johansson as the star of an 'aquamusical', similar to the ones starring Esther Williams, and Channing Tatum, who plays a Gene Kelly-like dancer starring in a sailor musical. The amount of time and detail given to these movies-within-the-movie is evidence of the brothers' love and appreciation for moviemaking, without which the movie would be in danger of feeling hollow and disingenuous.