Shirley Bassey and Agatha Christie

Shirley Bassey and Agatha Christie

Robert Tanitch reviews the latest DVDs

SHIRLEY BASSEY: A SPECIAL LADY (Network) There is something special about Shirley Bassey. She gets a splendid introduction in this Thanes TV Special in 1980: “She takes the words of a song and makes them poetry… hers is the voice of happiness, heartache, tenderness and fiery passion… she is what love is all about.” The songs, which get her characteristic full-blooded vocal  delivery, include Nobody Does It Like Me, You Don’t Bring Me Flowers (I learned how to love and I learned how to lie),The Way You Are, He’s Out of My Life, I Could Have Danced All Night, This Masquerade – 15 songs all told. It’s a nice way to spend the evening listening to a great singer. Guests include American singer Robert Goulet and French pianist Richard Clayderman .

AGATHA CHRISTIE THE CLASSIC CRIME COLLECTION (Acorn). A trio of TV murder mysteries but, sadly, without Poirot and Miss Marple. And Agatha Christie on TV without the definitive performances of David Suchet and Joan Hickson, for many, just isn’t Agatha Christie.  There is, of course, one exception, as I was reminded by a colleague, and that is her masterpiece, And Then There Were None.

SPARKLING CYANIDE (ITV 2003). The cast includes such stalwarts as Oliver Ford Davis and Kenneth Cranham but it doesn’t sparkle and, adapted and updated, it doesn’t feel like an Agatha Christie.

THE PALE HORSE (ITV 1996), also adapted and updated, doesn’t feel like an Agatha Christie, either; and it is not, with the exception of Jean Marsh (who plays a witch), well cast.

WHY DIDN’T THEY ASK EVANS? (ITV 1980) is the most faithful of the trio to Agatha Christie and is given a proper 1930s period setting. Francesca Annis and James Warwick play the amateur detectives. The major problem is its inordinate length (a ridiculous 3 hours) and its implausibility and its inconsistency.

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