Book: Hercule Poirot has been called to France by a client claiming he is in mortal danger. When Poirot arrives he is informed his client has been murdered. The wife was found bound and gagged in the bedroom by the maid. She claims two Chileans broke into the house and forced her husband outside but there are things that aren’t sitting quite right in the mind of the great Poirot.
Movie: (David Suchet Version)
Poirot and Hastings are on holiday to a golf resort. While they are there, a wealthy man recognizes Poirot as a famous detective and approaches him to say he is afraid for his life and wants to meet but won’t tell Poirot more. The next morning, Hastings discovers the man murdered on the golf course. The wife was bound and gagged in the bedroom while, according to her, her husband was dragged off by two strangers.
Possible Spoilers Ahead!
The movie and book, in this case, are quite different.
The golf course plays a much stronger setting in the movie than the book. In the book, it is barely there despite the book being named Murder on the Links. In the movie, the setting is much more prominent.
The book and movie start quite differently as well. The movie starts with a news clip about a crime from ten years before. This crime is important to both book and movie but in the book, it is only casually remembered later rather than shown to the viewer/reader at the forefront to make them wonder how the previous crimes ties in.
In the book, there is a significant romance. On the train to France, Hastings meets a woman who gives her name as “Cinderella”. She is approx seventeen years old and the Hastings of the book (who I believe is quite young himself) is absolutely smitten with her. In fact, he ends up married to this “Cinderella”.
“Cinderella” meets Hastings later in the case and convinces him to let her see the murder victim out of grizzly curiosity. He takes her to the locked shed (after borrowing the key) where the body is being stored. Unknown to Hastings, she steals the murder weapon. This misjudgment is mostly laughed off by the detectives in the book because it is clear he was just trying to impress a girl. This is one indicator that the Hastings in the book is a young man. It might be “cute” when a moon-eyed twenty-year-old fouls up a case because he liked a girl but I don’t think a forty or fifty-year-old man would get off so lightly and the Hastings in the movie appears at least to be in his forties.
We learn later that Cinderella stole the knife because she believed her sister was involved in the murder. Her sister was romantically involved with the victim’s son who had recently broken up with her.
In the movie, the woman is a singer at the resort and her name is Isabella. He doesn’t unlock any sheds for her but instead brings her to the police station to inquire about the case. She then takes the murder weapon off the officer’s desk. The Hastings in the movie was more chided than book Hastings about his decision to indulge a woman’s curiosity.
In the movie version, the characters of Cinderella and her sister have been combined into Isabella. She steals the knife because she believes her former lover, the victim’s step-son, is the killer.
I didn’t like the romance plot of either the book or the movie but I thought it was even worse in the movie because Hastings still pursues Isabella who was willing to steal a knife to clear the name of her former lover. To me, this indicates she still has intense feelings for him and isn’t nearly ready for a relationship with Hastings. At the end of the movie, she and Hastings go off on a date. I really disliked that even more than a younger Hastings marrying the girl he met on the train.
In both the book and the movie, there is another detective investigating the case. In the book, we are given the impression he is younger than Poirot and using more modern methods (forensics) of crime-solving. In the movie, he and Poirot have different methods but appear to be close to the same age.
In both movie and book, there is a bet about which detective can solve the crime first. In the book, the wager is money. In the movie, it is more personal. If Poirot loses he must shave off his signature mustache. If the other detective loses he must give Poirot his signature pipe. I liked the bet and the interactions between the detectives much better in the movie version.
Overall, I think I enjoyed the movie version slightly better on this one though I wouldn’t be able to rate either more than 3/5 due to my feelings on the actual mystery itself.
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