Kenneth Branagh poses as detective Hercule Poirot in front of the river in 'Death on the Nile'

All Hercule Poirot Movies Ranked Worst to Best

We can’t help but enjoy Agatha Christie‘s magnificently mustachioed Belgian investigator Hercule Poirot’s cinematic adventures. With his fastidiousness and “little grey cells,” Poirot has successfully graced our screens for decades, and like any grand journey, some passages are more memorable than others. But why are some of these cinematic adaptations held up as masterpieces while others are deemed mere footnotes? Let’s commence with the more, shall we say, “esteemed” affairs. 

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The 1974 rendition of Murder on the Orient Express, directed by Sidney Lumet and starring the chameleonic Albert Finney, is often hailed as one of the best adaptations. This version has all the hallmarks of a traditional whodunit: a claustrophobic train, a mosaic of intriguing passengers, and a heinous murder. Then, with the grandiosity only Kenneth Branagh can muster, the 2017 version of the same tale chugs into the station. It’s a sleeker, more polished train packed with modern cinematic panache and Branagh’s interpretation of Poirot’s iconic mustache (a piece of art in itself). 

However, films like The Alphabet Murders have been received with a bemused arch of the eyebrow. Comedy, after all, is a tricky cocktail—too much or too little, and it loses its zest. In essence, the allure or aversion to a Poirot film often hinges on fidelity to Christie’s spirit, the nuances of the lead actor’s portrayal, and the directorial vision. Some adaptations are rich, layered, and satisfying, like a fine Belgian chocolate. Others? Well, let’s say they’re an acquired taste. Keeping that in mind, let’s get down to ranking Hercule Poirot films from worst to best, shall we? 

9. Appointment with Death (1988)

Appointment with Death cast
(Cannon Film Distributors)

In Appointment with Death, Peter Ustinov reprises his role as the lovable rotund Belgian detective Hercule Poirot. Set against the sun-baked backdrop of Petra, one would assume the film to be as scintillating as its locale. Yet, much like a mirage in the desert, appearances can be deceiving. 

Critics, those ever-watchful guardians of taste (or so they like to believe), objected to various changes made to the original work. Additionally, for a movie bearing the weighty title Appointment with Death, the film curiously lacked the gravitas one might anticipate, occasionally veering into melodrama.  

8. Evil Under the Sun (1982)

A man speaking in Evil Under the Sun.
(Columbia-EMI-Warner Distributors)

Evil Under the Sun follows Hercule Poirot (Peter Ustinov) as he ditches the gloomy London weather and embraces the sunny Mediterranean vibes. A tantalizing concoction of azure waters, glamorous guests, and a twist of a sinister murder. Quite the recipe for a cinematic triumph, wouldn’t you say? Well, not so much. 

While the sun blazed brightly in the film, some fans felt the plot did not radiate with equal luminosity. They expected the intricate plotting of a classic Christie mystery but instead got a story as simple as a sunbeam, devoid of the typical shadows and intrigue. Then, of course, there were murmurs about the musical numbers, which, to some, felt as out of place as a snowstorm in summer. 

7. Lord Edgware Dies (1934)

A scene from Lord Edgware Dies
(Radio Pictures)

The 1934 film Lord Edgware Dies is a nostalgic nod to the early days of filmmaking when Austin Trevor first introduced Hercule Poirot to audiences on the silver screen. You’d think that a murder mystery set in the art deco elegance of 1930s London would be as smooth as a well-aged brandy. 

However, some audiences with palates as refined as they are finicky found the blend a tad off. For starters, while impeccably attired, Austin Trevor’s Poirot lacked some of the eccentricities and graces that Christie fans had come to appreciate. The film’s pacing, too, meandered a bit, like a gentleman unsure whether to attend the theatre or the club. 

6. The Alphabet Murders (1965)

Anita Ekberg in 'The Alphabet Murders'

Dancing to a different tune and with a wry wink from Tony Randall, The Alphabet Murders attempted to inject humor into Christie’s carefully constructed murder setting. But this turned out akin to putting a clown nose on the Mona Lisa—perhaps entertaining but straying a tad from the original spirit. 

The film’s humorous antics seemed to fly around like an untethered balloon for many viewers, often concealing the substance of Christie’s meticulously crafted puzzle. They craved Poirot’s painstaking analysis but were occasionally left chasing the film’s comedic tailwinds. However, in its defense, this ambitious adaption was nothing if not memorable. While it may not have been everyone’s cup of tea, it spiced up the usual brew. 

5. Death on the Nile (1978)

Hercule Poirot in Death on the Nile.
(EMI Distributors)

Poirot, played with elegance by the legendary Peter Ustinov, sailed down Egypt’s most renowned river in the 1978 spectacle Death on the Nile, only to find murder muddying the waters along the way. This cinematic tableau boasted an illustrious cast and dripped with so much glamour. Yet, as with any lavish party, there are those guests who whisper behind gloved hands. 

Some purists, their loyalty firmly anchored to Dame Agatha’s prose, found the adaptation’s pacing akin to the Nile’s more leisurely stretches, wishing for a swifter current of events. While enchanted by Ustinov’s charm, others missed the leaner, keener Poirot of the written word. But let’s not split hairs—or, in this case, mustache bristles. For many, Death on the Nile is a jewel of its era, blending old-school beauty and timeless mystery. 

4. Death on the Nile (2022)

The cast of Death on the Nile in a promo photo.
(20th Century Studios)

In the 2022 remake of Death on the Nile, Kenneth Branagh’s luxuriant mustache navigates the winding waterways of Egypt’s famous river and the murky depths of human depravity. Many have hailed the picture as a modern magnum opus in Poirot’s pantheon, with a cinematic canvas dripping in richness and a stunning cast ready to give it their all. Like a well-crafted symphony, it has all the right notes thanks to its lush textures, well-defined characters, and signature Branagh flair.

Naysayers still raised their monocles in criticism out of nostalgia or a love of nitpicking. While appreciated by many, the film’s modern sensibilities were seen by some as at odds with the quaint atmosphere of Christie’s stories. But isn’t art all about interpretation? While some may yearn for yesteryears, others toast to new horizons. To each their own Nile cruise. 

3. Murder on the Orient Express (2017)

murder on the orient express
(20th Century Fox)

The 2017 remake of Murder on the Orient Express with Kenneth Branagh, sporting a mustache so voluminous it could have its own zip code, steers us through Christie’s icy maze of mystery. Under Branagh’s direction, both behind and in front of the camera, the Orient Express chugs forth with a polished veneer, glistening with modern cinematic techniques yet echoing the rhythm of vintage suspense. 

This murder mystery hit the jackpot of cold, hard cash, and critical acclaim, with audiences and critics praising its performances, Branagh’s direction, and faithful adaptation of the source material. However, others found the film to be too slow-paced and overlong. Whichever camp one resides in, the film undeniably added a fresh, albeit snowy, imprint on Poirot’s cinematic journey.

2. A Haunting in Venice (2023)

Kenneth Branagh as Hercule Poirot in 20th Century Studios' A HAUNTING IN VENICE. Photo by Rob Youngson. © 2023 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.
(20th Century Studios)

A Haunting in Venice, the latest installment in the Hercule Poirot film franchise, has divided audiences, much like a good murder mystery. Some consider it one of Poirot’s best films, with its intricate plot, stunning visuals, and impeccable performances. 

Others, however, have not been as kind, calling it a convoluted mess that tries too hard to be clever. Some critics have also argued that the film’s supernatural elements depart from the spirit of Agatha Christie’s work. But, let’s face it, Poirot is never without controversy, and A Haunting in Venice is no different. 

1. Murder on the Orient Express (1974)

The cast all together in a train car in Murder on the Orient Express.
(Anglo-EMI Film Distributors)

Murder on the Orient Express from 1974 is an undeniable classic. This film is where Sir Sidney Lumet unfurled the crimson carpet for us, and Albert Finney, with his impeccably coiffed mustache, embodied our astute Belgian sleuth. Replete with old-world charm and a constellation of stars, it is often toasted as a triumph in Christie adaptations. The movie’s success lies in keeping viewers engaged and guessing, even if they are already familiar with the story. 

Lumet’s direction and the screenplay by Paul Dehn effectively capture the essence of Christie’s original work, preserving its suspense and mystery. Murder on the Orient Express remains one of the most beloved adaptations of Agatha Christie’s novels, and it solidified Albert Finney’s place as one of the iconic portrayals of Hercule Poirot. 

(featured image: 20th Century Studios)

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Faith Katunga
Faith is a freelance journalist with an insatiable curiosity for all aspects of current events, from the global economy and fashion to pop culture and travel. She watches an absurd number of cat videos on Instagram when not reading or writing about what is going on in the world. Faith has written for several publications, including We Got This Covered, Italy Magazine, TheTravel, etc., and holds a master's degree in Fashion Culture and Management.