The Alphabet Murders (1965) starring Tony Randall, Robert Morley, Anita Ekberg
The Alphabet Murders is a spoof of the murder mystery movie. Tony Randall stars as Agatha Christie’s famous Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot.
The Alphabet Murders is a comedy. It’s not a faithful adaptation of Agatha Christie’s The ABC Murders, and doesn’t pretend to be. It’s a parody of the murder mystery in general, and Hercule Poirot in particular. Frank Tashlin is the director, who famously worked on several Jerry Lewis comedies. He has a knack for zany, Looney Tune-style comedy movies.
Tony Randall frankly does a good job of the brilliant, vain, Belgian detective. In fact, toward the end of the movie, the accusation of being vain causes him to drop his guard. And be captured. But being Poirot, he’s planned ahead. If anything, my only complaint about Randall’s Poirot is that he’s too young and athletic. Also, his “French” accent needed work.
Robert Morley’s Captain Hastings is the exact opposite. Played entirely as comedy relief, he’s inept, incompetent, and funny. Multiple times, Poirot tries to get away from him to get on with his investigation.
Anita Ekberg appears as Amanda Beatrice Cross. She’s seemingly the murderess, killing different people with alphabet initials. But is she guilty? She seemingly leaps to her death to avoid prison. Is she dead? Is she the mastermind behind the murders?
Cyril Luckham as Sir Carmichael Clarke – the third victim with the initials C.C. Unless Poirot can beat the murderer to the punch.
Guy Rolfe as Duncan Doncaster. Society doctor, and psychiatrist, who’s been treating ABC. And, who’s set to be one of the inheritors of Sir Carmichael. If he lives long enough …
Maurice Denham as Inspector Japp. Curiously enough, Japp is actually portrayed fairly close to the Agatha Christie character. He’s a competent police inspector, although not imaginative. He impedes, then assists, Poirot’s investigation.
Editorial review of The Alphabet Murders courtesy of Amazon.com
With a twinkle of his eye and a twirl of his moustache, Tony Randall steps into the patent leather pumps of Hercule Poirot – and joins the ranks of Charles Laughton, Albert Finney, Peter Ustinov, David Suchet and more distinguished actors who’ve charmed generations of audiences as Agatha Christie’s renowned Belgian detective. The Alphabet Murders, based on Christie’s The ABC Murders, adds lots of laughs to the brain-teasing tale of a serial killer who chooses his/her victims in alphabetical order. As quickly as you can say ABC, Poirot is on the case, pursuing gorgeous Amanda Beatrice Cross (Anita Ekberg), who confesses to the crimes in Poirot’s Turkish bath.
Poirot is shocked. After all, the ladies have their own facility elsewhere in the building! A befuddled British Intelligence officer (Robert Morley) galumphs along in Poirot’s wake. And Margaret Rutherford and Stringer Davis of the Miss Marple movie series make surprise cameos to add even more fun to the mysterious goings-on.