The Alphabet Murders


1h 30m 1965
The Alphabet Murders

Brief Synopsis

Belgian detective Hercule Poirot investigates a series of murders committed in alphabetical order.

Film Details

Also Known As
Amanda, The ABC Murders
Genre
Comedy
Crime
Mystery
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 1965
Premiere Information
Pittsburgh opening: 2 Mar 1966
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures
Distribution Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc.
Country
United Kingdom
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The A. B. C. Murders by Agatha Christie (London, 1936).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 30m
Sound
Mono (Westrex Recording System)
Color
Black and White

Synopsis

Hercule Poirot, the famous Belgian detective, learns that British Intelligence has assigned one of their men, Hastings, to follow him while he is in London visiting his tailor. Poirot seems to attract crime, and while in London, an aquaclown, Albert Aachen, is found murdered in a swimming pool. Killed by a poisoned dart, Aachen's body is found by police next to a copy of the A. B. C. guide to London. While Poirot and Hastings enjoy a Turkish bath, Amanda Beatrice Cross enters in a frenzy and declares that she is a compulsive murderer; then she vanishes, leaving behind a handbag bearing the initials A. B. C. and a bowling alley score card. Poirot's investigation leads him to Betty Barnard, a bowling instructress who is murdered shortly afterwards, again by a poisoned dart. Since the first two victims had the initials A. A. and B. B., Poirot deduces that the next victim will be C. C., and further inquiries convince him that the killer will strike Sir Carmichael Clarke. Inspector Japp believes the case is solved when Amanda Cross is cornered on a high crane and jumps into the Thames. Poirot, however, continues to investigate and finally proves that Amanda did not perish in her plunge. A schizophrenic, she committed the murders because of her obsession with the alphabet.

Film Details

Also Known As
Amanda, The ABC Murders
Genre
Comedy
Crime
Mystery
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 1965
Premiere Information
Pittsburgh opening: 2 Mar 1966
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures
Distribution Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc.
Country
United Kingdom
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The A. B. C. Murders by Agatha Christie (London, 1936).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 30m
Sound
Mono (Westrex Recording System)
Color
Black and White

Articles

The Alphabet Murders -


Stage and screen star Zero Mostel was so keen to play mystery writer Agatha Christie's inimitable Belgian detective Hercule Poirot that he relinquished his leading role in the mega-successful Broadway production of A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum to prepare for the opportunity. Dissatisfied with the adaptation of Christie's 1935 novel The A.B.C. Murders by David Pursall and Jack Seddon (who had already scripted three films around Christie's spinster sleuth Miss Jane Marple, starring Margaret Rutherford), Mostel demanded the right to rework the screenplay himself but Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer recast the part instead. Reinventing the meticulous/fastidious Poirot as an Inspector Clouseau-style bumbler (Blake Edwards' A Shot in the Dark, starring Peter Sellers in his second go-round as Clouseau, had been one of the most successful releases of 1964) was Tony Randall; best known at the time as the comic relief in a handful of Rock Hudson-Doris Day comedies, Randall was emerging as a tenable leading man in his own right, in such films as Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1957) and The 7 Faces of Dr. Lao (1964). Even more so than had the Miss Marple films, The Alphabet Murders inclined sharply toward broad comedy, with director Frank Tashlin encouraging Randall and costar Robert Morley to ad lib their scenes together. Thrown in for an additional laugh is a cameo by an uncredited Margaret Rutherford as Miss Marple but easily missed is the appearance of British character actor Austin Trevor, who had been thirty years earlier the first actor ever to portray Hercule Poirot on film.

By Richard Harland Smith
The Alphabet Murders -

The Alphabet Murders -

Stage and screen star Zero Mostel was so keen to play mystery writer Agatha Christie's inimitable Belgian detective Hercule Poirot that he relinquished his leading role in the mega-successful Broadway production of A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum to prepare for the opportunity. Dissatisfied with the adaptation of Christie's 1935 novel The A.B.C. Murders by David Pursall and Jack Seddon (who had already scripted three films around Christie's spinster sleuth Miss Jane Marple, starring Margaret Rutherford), Mostel demanded the right to rework the screenplay himself but Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer recast the part instead. Reinventing the meticulous/fastidious Poirot as an Inspector Clouseau-style bumbler (Blake Edwards' A Shot in the Dark, starring Peter Sellers in his second go-round as Clouseau, had been one of the most successful releases of 1964) was Tony Randall; best known at the time as the comic relief in a handful of Rock Hudson-Doris Day comedies, Randall was emerging as a tenable leading man in his own right, in such films as Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1957) and The 7 Faces of Dr. Lao (1964). Even more so than had the Miss Marple films, The Alphabet Murders inclined sharply toward broad comedy, with director Frank Tashlin encouraging Randall and costar Robert Morley to ad lib their scenes together. Thrown in for an additional laugh is a cameo by an uncredited Margaret Rutherford as Miss Marple but easily missed is the appearance of British character actor Austin Trevor, who had been thirty years earlier the first actor ever to portray Hercule Poirot on film. By Richard Harland Smith

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Released in Great Britain in July 1966; running time: 85 min. Working titles: Amanda and The ABC Murders.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in England July 1966

Released in United States December 21, 1965

Released in United States March 2, 1966

Released in United States Spring March 2, 1966

b&w

Released in United States March 2, 1966

Released in United States Spring March 2, 1966

Released in United States December 21, 1965 (Pittsburg, Pennsylvania)