Cool Down With AC – Agatha Christie’s Three Act Tragedy Discussion

Last night, Masterpiece Mystery aired Three Act Tragedy, the first of the Agatha Christie Hercule Poirot Series 6 movies.  The series will also include The Clocks, and Hallowe’en Party. As part of the Cool Down with AC read/watch-along, I will be viewing them as well as a Miss Marple mystery a little bit later in the summer, and I hope you will be joining in. If you missed the movie last night on PBS, make sure you catch it while it’s available to view online.

Three Act Tragedy (read my full review) begins with Hercule Poirot playing catch up with friends Sir Charles Cartwright and Bartholomew Strange just as Cartwright is putting the finishing touches on his plan for a cocktail party. When an elderly vicar turns up dead at the party, Poirot doesn’t have any suspicions of murder until a second party with an almost identical guest list ends in death as well. Poirot enlists the help of would be detectives Cartwright and his crush, Egg Lytton Gore.

This was my first Hercule Poirot movie. I haven’t even seen the famed Murder on the Orient Express (but I plan to remedy that since it is available for the next week or so on PBS’s website.)! I finished reading the book shortly before I watched the movie and I was really struck by some major differences with the characters and the structure which were intriguing. I can see why the changes worked for the movie and I had wondered why AC chose to tell this story in the way that she did. Poirot does not play a big part in the book, nor is the story told from his point of view. Definitely an interesting choice for a series detective. I am curious to see whether the other Poirot stories are told in this fashion. The book was definitely more subtle with its reveal of the murderer. I had no clue with the book, but knowing probably influenced the way I watched the movie.

For Discussion:

I’ll be updating the discussion throughout the day, so feel free to check back often and leave any questions that you have in the comments.

Is this your first Poirot movie? If so, did you have any expectations and did it live up to them? For those who have followed Poirot before, how does this adaptation/actor measure up?

Have you read the book and the movie? Which one did you like better? Did you get the feeling that one was more effective than the other at telling the story? What worked for you and what didn’t?

There were quite a few zingers and one-liners in the movie. Did you have a favorite? How did these lines shape the character and feel of the movie?

Participants in the discussion today will be eligible to win a copy of the Hercule Poirot Series 6 set of DVDs, which will be released on July 12. If you have something to add to the discussion, don’t be shy!

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