Based on Crooked House, a work of detective fiction by Agatha Christie first published in the US by Dodd and Mead Company in March 1949, and published in the UK by the Collins Crime Club on 23 May of the same year.
Set in 1920s London, a brutal and bloodthirsty murder has stained the plush carpets of a handsome London townhouse. The victim is the glamorous and rich Emily French. All the evidence points to Leonard Vole, a young chancer to whom the heiress left her vast fortune and who ruthlessly took her life. At least, this is the story that Emily's dedicated housekeeper Janet McIntyre stands by in court. Leonard however, is adamant that his partner, the enigmatic chorus girl Romaine, can prove his innocence. Tasked with representing Leonard is his solicitor John Mayhew and King's Counsel, Sir Charles Carter KC.
This is the first production of "Witness for the Prosecution" that based on Agatha Christie's original short (23 pages) story first published in the January 31, 1925 edition of Flynn's Weekly under the title 'Traitor Hands'. She republished it in 1933 under the present title as part of a collection called 'The Hound of Death and other stories'. Christie expanded the story for her 1953 play, changing some of the character names and introducing Sir Wilfrid Robarts as the defense counsel. It is the play, not the short story, that has been the basis for all subsequent television and film versions. See more »
In the close-up of the Evening Standard newspaper that Romaine reads, Janet the maid's surname is quite clearly printed as 'Mackenzie.' Though this is the surname Agatha Christie used in the original story, in the adaptation Janet is called 'McIntyre' both in the credits and by other characters. See more »
I suppose it's a question of taste, and some people may find the BBC adaptations more realistic than the ITV Poirot & Marple adaptations, but I'm afraid both this and last year's "And Then There Were None" just leave me thoroughly depressed.
While both have been well-acted and well-directed, there seems to be an insistence on making things as bleak, miserable and depressing as follows, from the coughing-fit sex scene to the muted colours with no really likable characters at all.
Perhaps it is wrong to expect stories of murder to be fun. And maybe shows like "Midsomer Murders" cater for the likes of me.
I just find it irritating that in order to gain critical respectability, the BBC feels a need to pour a thick layer of dismal over their Christie adaptations. As excellent an actor as Toby Jones is, I found myself longing for Charles Laughton's bombast and energy.
And yes, I must admit, I miss the flashy, cartoony ITV Marple series. What a shame the BBC now has the rights to those stories too.
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