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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!

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