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Agatha Christie's 'Dead Man's Folly' Reviews

Reviewed By: Brian J. Dillard

With its inexplicable 1980s setting and its cast of delightful biddies such as Constance Cummings and Jean Stapleton, this Agatha Christie outing seems more like a glorified episode of Murder, She Wrote than a Hercule Poirot mystery. The shift in time to a more contemporary setting was probably a budgetary constraint rather than an aesthetic choice; the plot is pure Christie and could have been tweaked to take place in almost any time period. With the exception of the aforementioned grand dames, the cast is mostly culled from the B list. The opulent staging and international stars of Murder on the Orient Express and Death on the Nile are but a memory. Still, this workmanlike effort features an involving plot and all of the hallmarks of a Poirot potboiler: colorful supporting characters, trans-European friction, and the kind of rousing denouement that seems endemic to both the author's oeuvre and Scooby-Doo cartoons. Peter Ustinov's familiarity and ease with the character of Poirot make even the tacky shoulder pads and big hair go down easy. Dead Man's Folly may be chintzy, but it's still well-crafted.