Many fans of Agatha Christie's mystery novels also share an affinity for the movie adaptations of her books, especially those featuring the famously observant detective Hercule Poirot. Several famed actors, including David Suchet (who also played Poirot in the long-running television series Agatha Christie's Poirot), Tony Randall, Albert Finney, Peter Ustinov, Alfred Molina, and most recently, Kenneth Branagh, have portrayed the Belgian detective.
Branagh has previously played the character of Poirot in Death on the Nile and Murder on the Orient Express. Viewers can watch his recent outing as the detective in the newly released film A Haunting in Venice. In honor of this new release, this compilation ranks the best Hercule Poirot films by level of praise from Rotten Tomatoes. Where does your favorite movie fall on this list?
1. Evil Under The Sun (1982)
With a Rotten Tomatoes score of 92% and an audience score of 73%, this movie is an oldie but a goodie. As Poirot, Peter Ustinov discovered who murdered the not-so-beloved actress Arlena Marshall at a luxury resort populated with people with plenty of reasons to hate her. The lavish period costumes engage just as much as the film itself.
2. Murder on the Orient Express (1974)
In this outing, Poirot, portrayed by British actor Albert Finney, uses his sharp powers of observation to solve a mystery: who bumped off a wealthy American businessman during a trip on the Orient Express train? This first rendition of Murder on the Orient Express preceded two remakes in later decades.
Thanks in large part to great acting from an all-star cast that included Lauren Bacall, Vanessa Redgrave, Sean Connery, Ingrid Bergman (who won an Oscar for her work), Anthony Perkins, and John Gielgud, this film boasts a 90% score on Rotten Tomatoes, with 78% of the viewing audience approving.
3. Death on the Nile (1978)
Peter Ustinov plays Poirot for the first time in this film. The action in this movie takes place after the events of 1974's Murder on the Orient Express. The 78% Rotten Tomatoes and 79% audience approval scores are due in part to the big names starring in the film, such as Mia Farrow, David Niven, Angela Lansbury, Jane Birkin, Bette Davis, and Maggie Smith, who has starred in multiple Poirot films.
This movie begins with a romance gone wrong, thanks to a friend's betrayal and the tragic consequences. As always, nothing is quite as it seems, but Hercule Poirot manages to untangle and solve a very tricky case.
4. Death on the Nile (2022)
The remake of the 1978 classic starred Kenneth Branagh as Poirot. Branagh also took on directorial duties. Like the original Death on the Nile, this version also worked as a sequel to Branagh's 2017 film Murder on the Orient Express. Newlywed Linnet Ridgeway-Doyle (Gal Gadot) asks Poirot to protect her from her former friend and stalker, Jackie de Bellefort (Emma Mackey), after she marries Jackie's impoverished fiancé, Simon Doyle (Armie Hammer).
Jackie's obsession with Linnet and Linnet's subsequent murder set off a deadly chain of events that has Poirot racing against the clock to stop a killer before they claim more lives. While this movie only received a 61% Rotten Tomatoes score, audiences loved it, giving it an 82% rating.
5. Murder on the Orient Express (2017)
This third remake of Murder on the Orient Express marked Kenneth Branagh's first appearance as Hercule Poirot. While traveling on the famed train to London for work on a case, Poirot investigates the murder of a businessman who hired him as a bodyguard. Despite a cast of big Hollywood names like Johnny Depp, Judi Dench, Michelle Pfeiffer, Willem Dafoe, Penélope Cruz, Leslie Odom Jr., and Daisy Ridley, this film didn't impress Rotten Tomatoes or audiences, with ratings of 60% and 54%, respectively.
6. Murder on the Orient Express (2001)
Alfred Molina became Poirot for the second remake of Murder on the Orient Express. With a Rotten Tomatoes audience score of 49%, the movie failed to impress viewers. Poirot and his dear friend Bouc work together to solve the murder of businessman Samuel Ratchett, but this earnest attempt pales in comparison to the original.
7. Dead Man's Folly (1986)
Peter Ustinov reprises his performance as Poirot in this 1986 film. This time around, he pairs with his associate, Captain Hastings. When one of Poirot's old friends arranges a murder mystery game at their estate, they invite the detective to serve as a crime expert. Little does anyone know that Poirot will need to employ his skill to solve an actual murder during the game. It has a Rotten Tomatoes audience rating of 43%.
8. Appointment With Death (1988)
Based on Agatha Christie's 1938 novel, Appointment with Death, Peter Ustinov again appears as Hercule Poirot. On this occasion, Poirot investigates the suspicious death of a deceitful family matriarch who proved that she would stop at nothing to keep her family's wealth to herself. Viewers on Rotten Tomatoes gave this movie a score of 40%.
9. The Alphabet Murders (1965)
While most Poirot movies are dramatic mysteries with elements of humor, The Alphabet Murders marked a noticeable departure from the rest because of its more comedic approach to the plot. Starring a miscast Tony Randall of The Odd Couple fame, this film didn't find love with critics or audiences, receiving a 35% rating from Rotten Tomatoes viewers.
10. Murder in Three Acts (1986)
In this made-for-tv film, Poirot, played by Peter Ustinov and his sleuthing assistant Captain Hastings, travels abroad to Mexico. While there, a dinner guest unexpectedly dies. The subsequent investigation by Poirot and Hastings becomes even more complicated when a second guest dies in a similar fashion at another dinner party. Despite the 35% audience rating, this is a robust, character-driven movie with amazing visuals.
11. Thirteen at Dinner (1985)
A thrilling tale of mistaken identity that ends in a double homicide draws the attention of Peter Ustinov's Poirot, Captain Hastings, and Inspector Japp. This made-for-TV movie has a Rotten Tomatoes audience rating of only 30%, but don't let that discourage you from watching a solid mystery. Fun fact: David Suchet performs the role of Inspector Japp.
12. Black Coffee (1931)
As one of the earlier Poirot films, it flies below the radar–a shame given that it will engage fans of Agatha Christie. This film adapts Christie's play of the same name, with the detective and Captain Hastings investigating the death of a famous but unpopular scientist. Austin Trevor played Poirot in several of these earlier films. In 1932, the French version, The Lacquered Box, was released.
13. Lord Edgware Dies (1934)
An American actress hires Hercule Poirot, played by Austin Trevor, to help secure a divorce agreement from her British aristocratic husband. However, her husband has already agreed to the terms of a divorce, a fact the actress mysteriously hides. Things take a grim turn when the husband dies of natural causes. Poirot must unravel the mystery of Lord Edgware’s death and solve the case.
14. Alibi (1931)
Austin Trevor also played the lead in this 1931 film, in which Poirot investigates a suspicious death to determine if it was murder or something else. The inspiration for Alibi was the 1928 play of the same name, which came from Agatha Christie's 1926 novel The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. Unfortunately, no known copies of this movie exist, so it is considered a lost film.
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Her articles have appeared in publications such as Wealth of Geeks, MSN (US), MSN Ireland, Flipboard, The Facts, The Cents of Money, A Dime Saved, The Times (Frankfort), Invested Wallet, Chronicle-Tribune, Mama of Five Blog, Lafourche Gazette, The Herald-Press, Kinda Frugal, Peru Tribune, and Financially Well Off. Stephanie Allen got her start in writing by teaching college writing and technical writing courses. She transitioned to working as a contract technical writer specializing in information technology. Her love for writing on various subjects led her to Wealth of Geeks.