13 classic murder mysteries by the Queen of Crime, Agatha Christie

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Agatha Christie murder mystery adaptations on DVD, at Simply Home Entertainment

The queen of crime, Agatha Christie, is arguably the best murder mystery writer of all time. Creator of the world-famous sleuths, finnicky Hercule Poirot and nosy Miss Marple, she's penned 66 detective novels.

We’ve handpicked our favourite film and TV adaptations for you to investigate yourselves…

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The Pale Horse

The latest Agatha Christie story to be adapted for BBC One, with a stellar British cast including Rufus Sewell, who plays Mark Easterbrook.

This murder mystery doesn’t feature either Poirot or Miss Marple. Instead, meet Detective Inspector Lejeune, played by Sean Pertwee.

According to screenwriter Sarah Agatha Christ wrote the novel in 1961 "Against the backdrop of the Eichmann Trial, the escalation of the Cold War and Vietnam, The Pale Horse is a shivery, paranoid story about superstition, love gone wrong, guilt and grief. It’s about what we’re capable of when we’re desperate and what we believe when all the lights go out and we’re alone in the dark."


Murder on the Orient Express (1974)

“Murder on the Orient Express’ is a splendidly entertaining movie of the sort that isn’t made anymore” – Roger Ebert.


The earliest screen adaptation of the iconic whodunnit novel about a murder on a train where every passenger appears to have a motive. It was directed by master of cinema and five-time Oscar-nominee Sidney Lumet (12 Angry Men). This film is regularly cited as the best film adaptation of a Agatha Christie whodunit.

Albert Finney was nominated for an Oscar for his memorable performance as the eccentric detective Poirot. Co-stars include Sean Connery, Lauren Bacall, Martin Balsam, Jacqueline Bisset, John Gielgud, Wendy Hiller, Anthony Perkins, Vanessa Redgrave, Michael York and Ingrid Bergman, who went on to win the best support actress Oscar, playing a dim-witted, Bible-quoting missionary.

Agatha Christie, who famously dismissed film adaptations of her work, admitted she was “persuaded to give a rather grudging appreciation to this one.” There was apparently only one mistake “It was Albert Finney, as my detective Hercule Poirot. I wrote that he had the finest moustache in England – and he didn't in the film. I thought that a pity – why shouldn't he?”


Death on the Nile (1978)

“This is pure Agatha Christie, steeped in nostalgia and atmosphere.” – Empire Online

No Agatha Christie collection would be complete without Peter Ustinov as Belgian detective Hercule Poirot.

John Guillermin directs this dark 1930s-set whodunnit, where a woman is killed abroad a ship on the Nile. Luckily Poirot is on board, and must work out the culprit before the ship reaches the port and they have a chance to escape. The film was shot on location in Egypt, and boasts some impressive imagery of Egypt’s cultural highlights.

Peter Ustinov stars as the film’s Poirot, and unusually brought out the more human side to the character. The supporting cast included a fantastic array of talent including Bette Davies, George Kennedy, Angela Lansbury, David Niven, Maggie Smith, Simon MacCorkindale, Jane Birkin, Olivia Hussey, Celia Imrie and Jack Warden.

The film also won an Oscar for Best Costume Design. Controversially though, ITV watchdogs have ruled that due to a suicide scene in the film, it was deemed too violent to be screened on daytime television.


And Then There Were None (2015) – BBC TV

“A murder mystery to die for” - Variety

This three-part TV adaptation was commissioned by the BBC to mark the 125th anniversary of Agatha Christie’s birth. It became the most watched show of Boxing Day 2015, with over 6 million viewers.

Ten strangers are invited to an island by a mysterious host, but start to wonder if a killer is among their group when people start being murdered one by one.

Proving to be one of Christie’s darkest TV murder mysteries, the production team was applauded by critics for delivering a thriller unlike the formulaic and cosy TV whodunnits.

Unusual for not featuring either of Agatha Christies iconic detectives, Poirot or Miss Marple, And Then There Were None focuses on its charismatic ensemble cast of characters, played by Game of Thrones actors Charles Dance and Noah Taylor, Aidan Turner from Poldark, Jurassic Park’s Sam Neill and double Oscar-nominee Miranda Richardson.


And Then There Were None (1974)

This must be one of the best trailers ever made for a murder thriller – it must be seen to be believed!

This 1974 adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians was beautifully filmed by Peter Collinson in – of all places – pre-revolutionary Iran. Strangers find themselves banding together at an isolated Persian palace – and one by one they start to die.

Who is the murderer among them? Oliver Reed, Richard Attenborough, Elke Sommer and Charles Aznavour are among the cast, while Orson Welles provides the mystery voice.


ITV’s 4:50 from Paddington (2004)

The Emmy-nominated TV film is one of the finest from ITV’s Agatha Christie’s Marple series first broadcast between 2004-2007. BAFTA-winner Geraldine McEwan gives a memorable and witty performance as the elderly sleuth Miss Marple. Her co-stars include Emmy-winner David Warner, John Hannah, Celia Imrie, Heartbeat’s Niamh Cusack, Pam Ferris from Call the Midwife, acclaimed period actor Pip Torrens and an appearance from Rob Brydon as Inspector Awdry.

In this period drama, a friend of Miss Marple’s is woken suddenly on her train and sees a woman being strangled in a train passing by in the opposite direction. Miss Marple is soon called in to investigate.


Witness for the Prosecution (2016)

“Perfectly crafted, expertly cast and beautifully scripted by Sarah Phelps” – Guardian

Sarah Phelps’ two-part BBC adaptation of an Agatha Christie short story is a bloodthirsty tale about a man accused of killing his lover to inherit her wealth.

Only his solicitor, penniless John Mayhew, believes Leonard is innocent even when all the evidence suggests otherwise. Can Leonards wife, an enigmatic chorus girl named Romaine, prove her husband is blameless?

The BAFTA-nominated series currently has a 100% approval rating from critics on review site Rotten Tomatoes, unsurprising as it boasts a brilliantly compelling script and lavish cast bringing Christie’s characters to life

Toby Jones (Detectorists) steals the show as the solicitor and the supporting cast includes Sex and the City’s Kim Cattrall as the glamorous and rich woman found bludgeoned to death. Multi-award-winning Andrea Riseborough (Brighton Rock) was universally praised for her subtle but finely-tuned performance as the fragile witness torn apart about testifying. Will she save her husband or will his infidelity make her seek revenge?  


Evil Under the Sun (1982)

“As Poirot, Peter Ustinov creates a wonderful mixture of the mentally polished and physically maladroit.” – Roger Ebert


This famously flamboyant Christie story centres around a Broadway actress who is found murdered on a luxury island resort in the 1930s. Many faces familiar to Agatha Christie fans return for this production, directed by James Bond maestro Guy Hamilton, including Maggie Smith and Colin Blakely, while stars Roddy McDowall, Diana Rigg, Jane Birkin and James Mason are also added to the glossy line up.

This adaptation deviates from the original source material in many ways, including the humour, characterisation and location. Christie’s novel was set in Devon but the film was made in Spain to create the fictional and very sunny Island of Tyrania.


Murder at the Vicarage

Agatha Christie's first Miss Marple mystery, published in 1930, stars Joan Hickson as the indomitable (and nosy) amateur detective, alongside Paul Eddington, Cheryl Campbell and James Hazeldine.

In the sleepy little English country village of St Mary Mead, all is not as it seems. An unpopular colonel is found dead in the vicarage.

Under a seemingly peaceful exterior lurks intrigue, guilt, deception – and murder. investigations reveal no shortage of suspects – including the vicar and members of the victim's family.

Faced with a plethora of suspects, can the inscrutable Miss Marple unravel the tangled web of clues?


ABC Murders

John Malkovich stars as a much older, still-perfumed and tisane-sippling Belgian super-detective Hercule Poirot.


Widely regarded as one of Agatha Christie’s best mysteries, The ABC Murders is one of the most surprising and unusual appearances by literature’s most famous detective.

Based on a 1936 Agatha Christie novel of the same name, The ABC Murders is the latest in a string of Christie adaptations by the BBC, and screenwriter Sarah Phelps, who also adapted The Witness For the Prosecution, And Then There Were None and Ordeal by Innocence.

The year is 1933 and an alphabet-obsessed serial killer stalks Britain, known only as A.B.C. The killer strikes in a methodical pattern and leaves a copy of the ABC Railway Guide at the scene of each of murder.

The Belgian detective’s unorthodox investigative techniques do not go down well with Rupert Grint’s Inspector Crome, however, who’s initially assigned to the case but proves increasingly hostile and suspicious towards Poirot.

As Poirot attempts to investigate he is thwarted on every front; by a police force that no longer trusts him, a public that no longer adores him, and an enemy determined to outsmart him. If Poirot is to match his most cunning nemesis everything about him will be called into question; his authority, his integrity, his past, his identity.


Ordeal by Innocence

Bill Nighy leads a starry cast in this glossy, stylish adaptation set in 1954 Scotland (it was based in England in the book, but the location has shifted for the mini-series), at Christmas time. 

When the Argyll family’s matriarch, wealthy philanthropist Rachel (Anna Chancellor), is found murdered, it’s believed her adopted son Jack is guilty, and he’s carted off to prison.

But 18 months after Jack is arrested, a man named Dr. Calgary shows up claiming he’s Jack’s alibi. Calgary would have come forward sooner, but he was on a scientific expedition in the Arctic.

Rachel’s widower Leo (Bill Nighy) is about to remarry his secretary Gwenda and none of Rachel’s other adopted children Mary, Mickey, Tina or Hester, nor longstanding housekeeper Kirsten, is willing to reopen that most horrendous chapter of their lives. However, the shattering implications of Calgary’s story are too big to avoid; if he is telling the truth then the wrong person was arrested for Rachel’s murder.

Presuming this is all true, then Jack’s in the clear. But that means there is still a murderer out there, possibly amongst the Argyll clan. Cue, peel of thunder.


Crooked House

Glenn Close, Max Irons, Gillian Anderson and Christina Henricks lead the cast in this glossy adaptation of one of Agatha Christie’s personal favourite works. Julian Fellowes was involved in writing the screenplay.

Three generations of a well-to-do family gather at a country house after the death of its patriarch.

Among the suspects are the victim's eccentric sister-in-law (Glenn Close), his spoiled young widow (Christina Hendricks) and his permanently sozzled daughter-in-law (Gillian Anderson).

Max Irons stars as the military spy-turned-private detective (and fiancé of the old man's granddaughter) who is tasked with exposing the killer.


Spider's Web

When Clarissa Hailsham-Brown, played by Penelope Keith, sees a dead body in her drawing room, her fantasy world turns to reality in a sinister way.


Follow the link for our complete collection of Agatha Christie adaptations, including BBC audiobooks.

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