Dead Man’s Folly Hercule Poirot (Sir Peter Ustinov) is called in by his crime writer friend, Ariadne Oliver (Jean Stapleton) and discovers that she is troubled. She has been asked to create a “Murder Hunt” game for a fair at Nass House and she is puzzled with all the help she is getting. Poirot and his assistant, Captain Arthur Hastings (Jonathan Cecil) arrive at the fair to see what is going on. They find a couple on the brink of divorce, a rich Lord and a dizzy Lady, an old lady, trapped in the horrors of the past and a womanizing architect. Things take a turn for the worse when during the “Murder Hunt”, the girl playing the “dead” body is murdered for real, an old man’s body is pulled from the local lake, and the Lady of the manor goes missing when a face from her past shows up. It is clear to Poirot that someone is playing the game for real, and he sets out to discover who it is.
Decent, well-staged TV mystery
This made-for-TV movie is a good adaptation of Agatha Christie’s story of the same name. Peter Ustinov again plays Hercule Poirot with aplomb as he unravels the mystery surrounding the Fair at Nass House and the architectural Folly. Dead bodies begin to pile up and no one is sure who they can trust among the many diverse guests at the Fair.
The biggest asset of this film is that it was shot on location in Great Britain at one of the Treasure Houses of England (Wilton House, I believe), which adds greatly to the period feel of the film. If shot anywhere else, it would have been a routine TV movie.
None of the performances truly stand out, but everyone plays their part with vigor and conviction. Most of the cast are English and they are much better than the American actors, who seem to be playing stock characters and don’t quite fit in. However, it is a pleasant way to spend a few hours and revel in the grandeur of an authentic English estate.