Movie Review: The Alphabet Murders (1965)

Synopsis: Famed Belgium detective Hercule Poirot hunts down a London serial killer that selects his/her victims according to their intials. However, he must also avoid being apprehended by the local police, who don't want his help and want him to leave the country.

Who's in it? The movie stars Tony Randall, Robert Morley, Anita Ekberg, Maurice Denham and Sheila Allen.

Review: I came across this movie the other day and, after enjoying the Miss Marple films I've seen recently, decided to give a Hercule Poirot mystery a try as well. After all, he is my favorite Agatha Christie detective. I had a chance to watch the film yesterday evening and, unfortunately, it just wasn't as good as I was hoping it would be.

To be fair, the mystery itself wasn't too terrible. It has been more than three years since I read the book that inspired this film and, even though I kind of remembered the ending, the film had just enough going on to make me wonder if I was right about the killer. At minimum, the movie made it seem as though there were multiple viable suspects.

I think my biggest problem with this movie was the decision to cast Tony Randall as Poirot. I am a Tony Randall fan in general but, in this case, it didn't quite work for me. It was a bit like watching a close friend in a community play. It didn't matter how good of a job he did, I just saw Tony Randall pretending to be Hercule Poirot rather than believing it really was Hercule Poirot (if that makes sense). Not helping, of course, was the decision to have Randall appear in the opening credits both as himself and the character he was playing.

I also was not a huge fan of the way the writers decided to make this more of a comedy with Poirot and Hastings (Morley) being somewhat incompetent at times. Not only did it make Randall's performance even less believable, I feel like the jokes distracted from what could have been a memorable mystery movie. Though, I will also admit, I thought the Jane Marple (Margaret Rutherford) cameo was kind of funny and probably one of the highlights of this movie.

Final Opinion: It was an OK attempt at bringing a classic Agatha Christie book to life but the decision to make it more of a comedy didn't pay off. At minimum, it isn't as good as it could have been.

My Grade: C


  1. Most of Dame Christies Stuff is played deadly serious. This isn't. Must be my own snarky sense of humor that made enjoy the gentle lampooning of the genre.

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