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Category:    Home > Reviews > Mystery > British Telefilm > Seven Dials Mystery (1981/Agatha Christie Telefilm)

Agatha Christie’s Seven Dials Mystery (British telefilm)


Picture: C     Sound: C+     Extras: C-     Telefilm: B-



Written back in 1929, The Seven Dials Mystery is one of stand-alone Christie mystery novels that do not feature her main detectives (Poirot or Marple), but Lady Eileen “Bundle” Brent (Cheryl Campbell) in her second of two outings as a detective.  The Secret Of Chimneys from 1925 was her debut as a character.  Two men die and say the same thing about “seven dials” and Scotland Yard Superintendent Battle (Harry Andrews), who would be in many Christie books unrelated, beings to investigate.  Valuable security secrets turn out to be in the mix, upping the ante here.


Some of the turn out of the story is more like a Saturday Morning Serial than a regular mystery from Christie, but she did often have (SPOILER, skip to next paragraph if necessary) an obsession for secret organizations, without giving away anything vital.  It is one of the wilder Christie novels and one of her earliest literary works, so fans and readers can see how she was developing as a master storyteller and how she went about laying out some of the greatest mystery tales still ever written.  Rula Lenska, James Warwick, and Sir John Gielgud as the Marquis Of Caterham.  This 1981 adaptation was written, produced and directed by Tony Wharmby, who obviously enjoys the source material.


The 1.33 X 1 image is hazier than expected, but originating on PAL video has less to do with it than just the quality of the transfer and/or problems with the source material.  Some of the problem is noise; other parts have to do with some streaking usually only seen in the PAL format.  This is likely down a generation or so and we have seen flaws from the London Weekend Catalog before when covering the amazing Sandbaggers series on the site, though that had more to do with wear.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 is boosted to a very simple stereo, barely better than the image, but the telefilm is good enough to suffer through any imperfections.  Joseph Horowitz’s score is just right for the story.  Extras are few, all text on Christie and also offering cast filmographies.  The Seven Dials Mystery is worth a look and is a very authentic-feeling work.  It is at least as British as recent such productions, if not more so, something not easy to capture.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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