The Witness for the Prosecution
Agatha Christie's The Witness for the Prosecution tells the tale of an amorous but foolish wealthy woman named Emily French (Kim Cattrall, Sex and the City) who enjoys the company of handsome young men. A bit too much, if you ask her lady's maid, Janet McIntyre (Monica Dolan, The Casual Vacancy). She meets Leonard Vole (Billy Howle) and takes him for her lover, but Leonard is married, mentally broken from WWI, and flat-broke. However, he certainly enjoys the rich life Emily brings, but then she is brutally butchered in her home and Leonard is the main suspect, as Janet is convinced she saw him leaving the house that night.
His soft-spoken showgirl wife Romaine (Andrea Riseborough, Resistance, Shadow Dancer) staunchly provides his alibi, until she finds out Leonard cheated on her with Emily and then she does a 180 and agrees to be a witness for the prosecution. Leonard's solicitor is John Mayhew (Toby Jones, Detectorists, The Secret Agent), a bottom-feeder who greedily takes on the high-profile case and will stop at nothing to win it, especially since he believes in Vole's innocence. When he begins looking for anything to save his client, he starts to unravel Romaine's testimony and call into question her truthfulness. If Leonard is innocent, then who killed Emily French?
Agatha Christie's The Witness for the Prosecution is another superb Christie adaptation by Sarah Phelps. This film will take you on a wild ride and as the curtains proverbially close, you won't know what way is up. The acting is perfect across the board and the writing (both the screenplay and the 20-page short story that it was taken from) is superior. The film is visually and conceptually dark, but utterly fantastic and contains the special features included on the previously released stand-alone version, which is a nice plus.
Three Act Tragedy
In Three Act Tragedy, Hercule Poirot (David Suchet) must not only examine an old case of his, but also a recent murder, both of which have striking similarities. In both cases, the death occurred at a dinner party, and the guest list for both parties are almost identical. Besides the vicar who died during the events of the earlier party, the only people not in attendance during the second event are the original dinner's host, Sir Charles Cartwright (Martin Shaw, Inspector George Gently, Judge John Deed), and Poirot himself. The newly deceased at the more recent party is that dinner's host, Doctor Bartholomew Strange (Art Malik Upstairs Downstairs, True Lies) and there are more than a few striking similarities between the two deaths. Cartwright has asked Poirot to investigate the new death and re-examine the mystery surrounding the first death in the hopes of finding some connection between the two events, besides the guest list, that is. This mystery also features the acting talents of Kate Ashfield (Shaun of the Dead) and Tom Wisdom (300, Pirate Radio) as other guests to both parties.
Hallowe'en Party features one of Agatha Christie's Poirot's recurring characters, Ariadne Oliver (Zoe Wanamaker), a mystery writer who has assisted Poirot on several occasions. She contacts Poirot to investigate the recent death of Judith Butler, a young girl found dead in a tub for bobbing-for-apples. To make matters worse, her death comes on the heels of announcing that she once witnessed a murder. Could her own death be the result of that knowledge, or are the two events isolated and unrelated? It's up to Poirot and Oliver both to solve both murders before the killer gets away.
All three of these movies are great examples of Agatha Christie's story-weaving prowess and any fan of the writer should enjoy this collection. The only possible hitch is if that fan already has these movies from other DVD releases. Otherwise, it makes a great holiday gift for a more casual fan of Christie who isn't collecting every release.