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Category:    Home > Reviews > Mystery > Telefilm > British TV > Literature > Anthology > France > French > The Agatha Christie Hour – Set 2 (1982/Acorn Media DVD Set) + Inspector Bellamy (2008/IFC/MPI DVD)

The Agatha Christie Hour – Set 2 (1982/Acorn Media DVD Set) + Inspector Bellamy (2008/IFC/MPI DVD)


Picture: C     Sound: C+     Extras: D/C+     Episodes: B-     Film: C+



There is a sort of flip-flop on the kinds of mysteries we see these days and where we used to get great mystery stories outright, everything is a police procedural or a tale that sells itself as a mystery, but has an alternate agenda that usually backfires.  Here, we have examples of the former and latter.


The Agatha Christie Hour – Set 2 (1982) continues with more lesser-adapted classics from the Queen of Crime we first encountered at this link:





Whether it was the limited alternate material, rights or just a set contract of adaptations, the series concluded after ten episodes and the last five are as follows:


Magnolia Blossom (1971 short story)

The Mystery Of The Blue Jar (1933 short story)

The Red Signal (1933 short story)

Jane In Search Of A Job (1934 short story)

The Manhood Of Edward Robinson (1934 short story)



Magnolia is actually not a mystery by a rare Christie romance, but it is included here and makes for a nice change of pace.  Blue & Red happens to be two from a collection of supernatural Christie tales, an area she occasionally dabbled in.  The last two are the kind of outright mystery tales she is best known for.  This double-disc set holds the shows and it is the equal of the last set.  You’ll recognize some of the actors (a young Rupert Everett, Ralph Bates, Christopher Cazenove) and with so many more short stories, this could have gone for more seasons, but did not.


At the time, the major Christie feature films were still being made, with Guy Hamilton’s underrated Evil Under The Sun (with Peter Ustinov, noting it yet again) being released in theaters.  The Christie estate was flirting with more features, but that was the last great one and the productions of her work continued on TV and often to this day.  You can start with either set, but these are rarely enacted tales and it is nice to see them on DVD.


I am no fan of Claude Chabrol, France’s overrated “Master of Suspense” (a title really belonging to Alfred Hitchcock), but he continued making genre films until his passing and he just happened to pair up with the somewhat overrated Gerard Depardieu for Inspector Bellamy (2008), with Depardieu in the title role of a police detective on vacation with his wife, only to have to deal with a car crash death where the driver is decapitated after being burned to death and it is suspicious.


His long-lost brother shows up and the film tries to be something else, maybe something more, but gets distracted and lands up not doing any one thing well and the conclusion is flat and dull.  Odile Barski co-wrote the teleplay with Chabrol and they land up doing things they only seem to understand.  Though there are some good moments, this is for fans of the star and director only.



The 1.33 X 1 image on Christie is the same as the previous set with older-looking transfers, but these are mostly shot on PAL analog video, so you can only expect so much.  Flaws including video noise, video banding, tape scratching, PAL cross color, faded color and tape damage, but all are still watchable due to the sets, clothes and production just the same.  Oddly, this looks about as good as the anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image on Bellamy, which has weak color and detail throughout, partly due to styling choices.  It does not help it to be more watchable and this is supposed to be a 35mm shoot by Director of Photography Eduardo Serra (A.F.C., A.S.C./Blood Diamond, Defiance, What Dreams May Come, Beyond The Sea, Harry Potter & The Deathly Hollows) goes for a post-modern look more than he should.


The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono in Christie is also the same as the previous set with better sound than picture, but still showing its age in distortion and other aural flaws, while the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix on Bellamy is limited in soundfield and too quiet for its own good, while the dialogue is too much in the center channel.  Christie has no extras, but the extras in Bellamy include a Trailer and Making Of featurette that is about an hour long.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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