With the success of MGM’s made-in-England series of Miss Marple movies starring Margaret Rutherford, producer Lawrence P. Bachmann thought it auspicious to try Agatha Christie’s other famous detective, the Belgian sleuth Hercule Poirot. If he hoped for another series, the plan didn’t get beyond one movie, which is now available on demand from Warner Archive.
Like the Marple films, The Alphabet Murders is more of a comic lark that diverges in tone and plot from Christie. Indeed, it goes farther, seeming to parody Poirot films almost before they existed. The spoofiness is signaled right away as Tony Randall addresses the camera as himself before transforming into Poirot and addressing the camera some more. It’s all a joke, and this approach didn’t please Christie or mystery fans, nor even fans of Randall.