Stylish Films: Crooked House

In recent years, fans of Agatha Christie have been treated to some fine television and film adaptations. On the big screen we have seen a new version of Murder on the Orient Express, and the upcoming Death on the Nile, whilst tv has seen adaptations of The ABC Murders and The Pale Horse, a couple of documentaries celebrating 100 years of Poirot, and also three stories that put Agatha at the centre as a character, including my favourite, Agatha and the Curse of Ishtar.

But as well as all of these, there is Crooked House, a film that seemed to be lost in the excitement of Murder on the Orient Express. I first watched this a couple of years ago at Christmas, and thoroughly enjoyed both the story, the killer and the all star cast. I loved the style of the piece, the stunning Country house location and the lead protagonist who is young and gorgeous and well worth watching as played by Max Irons.

Crooked House is a typical murder mystery, an ageing rich man is found dead, presumed poisoned. He has a young, glamorous wife (Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks in a perfect role) who could be the lead suspect, but when all his family also have ample reasons and opportunity to kill him, then frankly it could be anyone. Charles Hayward, a spy turned detective, is called in to look at the case by the old man’s granddaughter Sophia, who just happens to be his old flame. The smart money is on the tycoon’s glamorous young wife, but his grown up children Philip and Roger, also hated him for his poor treatment of them, his sister-in-law Lady Edith (Glenn Close, hamming it up a storm) also hated him for his attitude towards both his children and grandchildren, and even the grandchildren pretty much detested him. Charles has the task of unravelling this web of hatred to discover who really killed the old man.

Agatha Christie always loved a twisty ending and an inappropriate Killer, and Crooked House, which she wrote in 1949 is a prime example of that. I love this adaptation, the cast is phenomenol, particlarly the fantastically vampy Gillian Anderson as the fading actress Magda and Julian Sands as Philip, anger incarnate due to his father refusing to financially back his latest playscript. Amanda Abbington is also great as Clemency, the strong wife of the weak second son Roger, I love how she tells Charles straight away that she is familiar with medicines and poisons, almost throwing herself into the instant firing line.

Crooked House is currently showing on Netflix, so if you are an Agatha Christie fan and haven’t seen it, this could be a good time to catch up. And, if you haven’t seen it, I wonder if you will be able to guess the killer before the shocking ending?

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