Cool Down With AC – Agatha Christie’s The Clocks Discussion

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Last night, Masterpiece Mystery aired The Clocks, the second of the Agatha Christie Hercule Poirot Series 6 movies.  The series also includes Three Act Tragedy, and Hallowe’en Party. As part of the Cool Down with AC read/watch-along, I will also be watching a Miss Marple mystery a little bit later in the summer, and I hope you will be joining in. If you missed the movie last night on PBS, make sure you catch it while it’s available to view online!

The Clocks follows the case of Sheila Webb, a young stenographer who goes out on assignment only to be greeted by the eerie scene of clocks strategically placed in the room with a dead body. Fate then delivers her, as she runs screaming out of the building, into the waiting arms of Lieutenant Colin Race who champions her cause and turns to Hercule Poirot for help in clearing her name. But as the body count rises and the evidence mounts against Sheila, it becomes a mystery as whether Poirot can (or wants to) aid the damsel in distress.

So, I now have my second Poirot mystery under my belt, and I have heard a rumor that he does play a bigger roles in some of the novels. This is not one of them. The plot of the film was again altered to create a bigger space and role for him. I wonder whether we will get to see him in action a little more in Hallowe’en Party!

For Discussion:

The discussion throughout this week, so check back and leave any questions that you have in the comments.

So far, how are your enjoying Series 6? Does this episode fall in line with any expectations that might have been building after last week’s episode? Do you have a preference for either?

Have you read the book and the movie? Which one did you like better? Did you get the feeling that one was more effective than the other at telling the story? What worked for you and what didn’t?

How did you feel about Sheila throughout the movie? Did you have any doubts about her or about Colin Race?

Did you guess either the killer or the motive before the reveal in the movie? What tipped you off? Were there clues you picked up along the way, or did you know what to look for based on prior experience with the book?

1DA652C2516038AE4D02F55645591F39 Cool Down With AC   Agatha Christies Three Act Tragedy Discussion

Participants in this week’s discussion will be eligible to win a copy of the Hercule Poirot Series 5 set of DVDs which include Murder on the Orient Express, Third Girl and Appointment with Death. If you have something to add to the discussion, don’t be shy!

Also, remember to check out Jen’s giveaway of And Then There Were None and her discussion post on the Christie mystery Endless Nights at Devourer of Books

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  1. I am enjoying the series immensely!!! I haven’t had any expectations and deliberately not reread the entire storylines in the books prior to seeing the movies. I re-read for the reveal afterwards. I especially liked the double crime and the dual storylines. As such, I liked ‘Clocks’ better for the character development than the ‘Three-Act Tragedy’.

    I have read the book and ‘watched’ the movie. I generally prefer books over the movies due to what is left out in adaptations (much like what was described on the blog last week for the ‘Three-Act Tragedy’). However I think both have merit since it would be very difficult to visually illustrate the entire book plot, sub plots, etc… in an hour and half. Both hit the main theme of the author, albeit there were things left out from the movie. These did not deter me from the movie at all. I am very satisfied with the movies and look forward to more! David Suchet is the best Poirot in my opinion and pulls off the character and therefore the stories work. I may not feel the same but for his portrayal.

    I didn’t have any doubts about Sheila. I thought she was set-up from the beginning. I didn’t waver from this though I did like how the character did not show any subtle hints in her acting about her guilt or innocence. I had questions about Colin Race’s motive throughout the movie. He was conveniently there (walking down the street) and quickly involved himself with Sheila and bent proving her innocence. I didn’t consider him necessarily involved in the murder(s), but his appearance and continued presence was obvious and I had to wonder if he knew more of the conspiracy.

    This was especially true when he would not take the first victim’s phone call in the beginning. He was supposed to be madly in love with her. It seemed more likely that he would have taken her call over a poker game. He seemed to care more about the card game than her.

    I didn’t remember everything from the book, and didn’t cheat. I figured out the murderer and conspiracy before the reveal. I picked up on the broken heel and that Nora return to the office. The “…So she had to be lying” sealed for me that the boss did it. I noted the boss lady was walking behind Nora when she was talking to the constable on the stairs. I noted her look too. Nor did I think the woman was blind and innocent. I think her demeanor actually gave her away to me. She so didn’t get ruffled by anything – dead body behind her couch, a stranger in her house! How can a blind woman work in a photography shop?

    I didn’t get too much about the espionage plot. I picked up about the sister living in England, so it was obvious the woman as lying and I thought she may not be the heiress. The unknown man, sealed that for me since he must have known what the real heiress looked like and so he had to die. Poirot gave that away with, “It is not important who HE is, it’s WHO he is”, meaning why he was there in the first place.

    Overall, a very good episode.

    1. I have read the last two books just ahead of the movies. I think that for the next few I am going too wait to read the book and just see the movie as a stand alone and not know who the killer is. It is always fascinating to see how the books and the movies differ, but it make its really hard for me to just concentrate on the movie when I am thinking of all the differences.

      Even though I can usually spot the major differences, I still find that I can get a little confused about what happened where and sometimes I didn’t even notice the differences as much as I thought I would.

  2. I very much enjoyed “The Clocks” and agreed it was better than “Three Act Tragedy”. I havent read this book in particular so I had no expectation to compare to. I liked the dual plots. With regards to Sheila, I felt she was innocent from the beginning but I did have my doubts about Race. I thought it was too convenient he happened to be there at exactly the right time. I knew the blind lady was guilty of something . I knew the original murder would be tied in to that street and I loved the way Poirot basically ignored the Constable Chief approach -he had to use his little grey cells.I didnt guess the killer before the plot was exposed. Looking forward to next week.

    1. If I hadn’t read the book I don’t think that I would have guessed the killer either. The dual plotlines and crimes threw me for a bit of a loop. I had to go back over it in the book to make sure that I had everything straight so I was glad to have a basis for reference when watching the movie.

  3. I read THE CLOCKS many years ago and did not do a reread. That being said, I really enjoyed this adaptation and could remember just enough of the book to be a bit ahead. I don’t remember the young man being Colin Race – maybe he was – but last week on one of the AC posts, I mentioned that Colonel Race is a particular favorite of mine. He was in DEATH ON THE NILE and CARDS ON THE TABLE – maybe even another one. He’s a kind of secret agent type character and I guess this young man is supposed to be his son. Don’t think I ever thought Col. Race was married, but no matter.

    I liked Poirot very much in this one. Liked the fact that he was very stern with the traitors. I did remember the trick with the note – turning it upside down. AC occasionally wrote books that came very close to spy novels or flirted wtih that anyone. I keep remembering that she wrote all these through the years that Britain was involved in WWII and naturally some of that horrific time and trials that the English people suffered came through.

    Next week is one of my favorite Poirot stories. The book also includes Ariadne Oliver. We’ll see if the film adaptation has her there as well.

    1. Did you get from the movie that Colin Race is the Colonel’s son. I admit that hings happen fast and I sometimes miss things.

      I think that I am just going to watch the movie for this one cold. I had been reading the books just before watching the movie, so I want to try doing the reverse. I have been looking forward to Hallowe’en Party since I first saw the schedule. It’s irrational bt something about the spelling of the name makes it seem like it will be creepier and really good.

  4. I liked this one too. I didn’t read the book. I wondered how the whole thing was going to play out. It was confusing, but obviously meant to be. I will be honest and say I had a little tickle of doubt about Sheila. Sorry Sheila.

    The first phone call to Race annoyed me. I said aloud, “Dude, let her talk!” Later my husband says, “Does anyone listen to other people in this show?” Apparently not if you are a woman (Nora in the courtroom).

    I’m really looking forward to Hallowe’en Party!

    1. I had a big problem with the way Race ignored what was supposed to be the love of his life in the beginning of the film. They are undercover or whatever and she is trying to tell him that she has made a big discover and he was very blase about it. I couldn’t understand why they would make him so unsympathetic straight of the back, but whatevs.

      I love the spelling of HP.

  5. I haven’t read the book so this was completely new to me, but after Appointment with Death as the previous season, Three Act Tragedy seemed a sort of welcome back to a more authentic AC. So when I saw The Clocks I was hoping that they didn’t mess that much with the original story and from what I’ve been reading that seems to be true. By far I preferred The Clocks to TAT, and I was truly hooked to my couch watching it, it was so thrilling just by looking at the first 5 minutes.

    Sheila seemed innocent to me, but at some point it got a bit confusing, I was sort of disappointed with the 413 guest affair, she kinda fell in my esteem. Although Race did start to look fishy at one point, but it was very reassuring at the end that he was a good guy after all. The police guy was very frustrating, he was stupidity on legs, and it was very nerve racking when Nora called and was so miserably dismissed, you just saw there was something bad going to happen to her, so sad.

    I was completely clueless as to the killers, it usually happens to me, I don’t catch much of the clues, although the couple with the inheritance looked very suspicious, specially when he went to rat on Sheila, the bastard! It was so exciting to have the double plot, THAT I would’ve never haves guessed, hahaha but that’s why I love AC so much, she completely absorbs me in the story telling that I hardly try to guess the endings, I just go with the flow, I like to be surprised!

    I too can’t wait for Hallowe’en Party!!! It’s one of my favorite stories!!
    Did you guess either the killer or the motive before the reveal in the movie? What tipped you off? Were there clues you picked up along the way, or did you know what to look for based on prior experience with the book?

    1. Some others have chimed in that Hallowe’en Party is really good, so I am looking forward to it. Race lost me from the very beginning when he was ignoring the girl on the phone. I was kind of meh about him for the rest of the movie, which is unfortunate since he was such an integral piece of the story.

  6. So far, how are your enjoying Series 6? Does this episode fall in line with any expectations that might have been building after last week’s episode? Do you have a preference for either?
    Very much, though I’m more or less just keeping track of the Agatha picks.
    I read the book, in fact my review is posted here I was a bit confused when I finished the book. The espionage subplot was not very clear to me. I think the movie does a great job of merging both plots, so I think I’m going to say the adaptation is slightly better. The adaptation has more Poirot, and David Suchet is such fun to watch, this adds to the perks.
    I didn’t like Sheila at all! I was always suspecting her. I really liked the Colin character, I feel like he could have taken over the story without Poirot, and solved the mystery.
    No, I didn’t guess, I figured the Miss Pebmarsh was guilty, and she was, but of the wrong crime. Bummer! Reading the book did help spot clues, but the beginning is so different in the adaptation that again I was hoping they made Pebmarsh guilty.
    Did you guess either the killer or the motive before the reveal in the movie? What tipped you off? Were there clues you picked up along the way, or did you know what to look for based on prior experience with the book?

    1. I was a little confused with the dual plot and crime in the book as well, but it was a lot easier to understand in the book than it was in the movie. The beginning of the movie was especially different than it was in the book. I think I suspected the lady at the agency when I was reading the book, but that was more from the way they kept questioning her and then the murder of the girl from the agency.

  7. I knew the woman at the agency was involved but can’t recall if I remember that from the book or not. Even in the brief glimpse we got of Fiona, I liked her better than Sheila and was annoyed with Race for forgetting her so easily!

    1. I thought they really started Colin off in the hole by having him ignore the woman that he supposedly loved so soundly. She was obviously trying to tell him something really important and he just wasn’t having. Fail.

  8. I crammed the book before watching on TV since the adaptation is usually quite different. I will admit that I too didn’t like the way Colin “brushed off” Fiona in the beginning for the poker game and then how he seemed to fall in love so easily with Shelia Webb. I did like the way Shelia was portrayed in the movie but she definitely had more depth and more backstory in the book (as is usually the case when adapting for a TV audience). The dual plot, therefore, is much easier to follow in the book. I also thought that there would have been no problem keeping the blind woman’s same profession in the adaptation as in the book, a teacher in the school of the blind. Seemed like a silly (and unnecessary) change to me to make her working in a photography studio.

    I loved seeing more and more of HP in this novel, even though he still was not what I would call the “main” character. In the book, Colin and the Superintendent do most of the sluething. I liked seeing more of HP, as he is my favorite AC detective. One thing I do really like is that for the TV adaptations, he is given, sometimes (as in The Clocks and Three Act Tragedy) a more prominent role than he had in the books. I’m a bit prejudiced because I love David Suchet’s portrayal of Poirot.

    In the end (of the book) I knew who was involved on the “female” side but still had my doubts as to which male neighbor was involved and why. Book also had a nice twist at the end with the blind woman, which did not fit into the adaptation’s story line. Read it.

    In the end, I love the book and I thought the Adaptation did a good job and continuing forward with the summer Cool Down and just started Hallowe’en Party. Poirot is prominenty featured, almost right from the beginning, along with some other characters who recur in AC novels.

    Thanks for a great blog!!!

  9. I am a little bit behind because I wanted to read the books before the movies. So far I have read Three Act Tragedy, The Clocks, and am 3/4 of the way through Hallowe’en party. I haven’t really enjoyed the movies for Three Act and the Clocks. My mind kind of wanders while watching the movie because I know sort of what is going on already. I also get hung up on all the differences between the books and the movies. Some changes for the movie, you wonder why they bothered to make them. I am debating now whether to read Pale Horse ahead of the movie. I watched Murder on the Orient Express without having read the book and I did really enjoy that movie as did my husband after he pushed through the slow start. It’s actually gotten kind of funny because I kept trying to get my husband who is a masterpiece fan to watch the movies for Three Act and the Clocks with me. He is an insomniac who is usually puttering around till three in the morning. Every time I put these movies on he is snoring away five minutes in. My daughter could not be coerced into watching more than ten minutes either. So far the Hercule Poirot books have not been my favorite in the reading challenge. Hallowe’en party started off really well and started dragging in the middle. I am going to see how it wraps up today and try to view the movie tonight.