Agatha (Warner 1978 with Vanessa Redgrave and Dustin Hoffman)

UK / Warner – First Artists – Sweetall / 105 minutes / 1978 Made in technicolor

Writers: Kathleen Tynan, Arthur Hopcraft (based on a story by Kathleen Tynan) / Music: Johnny Mandel / Cinematography: Vittorio Storaro / Producers: Jarvis Astaire, Gavrik Losey / Director: Michael Apted


Dustin Hoffman (Wally Stanton), Vanessa Redgrave (Agatha Christie), Timothy Dalton (Archie Christie), Helen Morse (Evelyn), Celia Gregory (Nancy Neele), Tony Britton (William Collins), Timothy West (Kenward), Alan Badel (Lord Brackenbury), Paul Brooke (John Foster), Carolyn Pickles (Charlotte Fisher), Robert Longden (Pettelson), Donald Nithsdale (Uncle Jones), Yvonne Gilan (Mrs. Braithwaite), David HargreavesfSgr. Jarvis), Sandra Voe (Therapist), Barry Hart (Superintendent MacDonald), Tim Seely (Capt. Rankin), Jill Summers (Nancy’s Aunt).

Agatha Christie, one of the world’s most popular writers of detective fiction, utterly disappeared for 11 days in 1926. She was later discovered at Hydro Harrowgate, a spa in Yorkshire, England.

More than 15,000 persons searched high and low for the novelist who allegedly ran away after her husband Archibald told her he was leaving her for his secretary. Upon her return, Christie stated that she remembered nothing, such was the shock of her matrimonial break. That is the only story known.

AGATHA is “an imaginary solution to an authentic mystery,” speculating on what happened to Christie during the 11 days she was missing. More than succeeding as a mys- tery, the film works as a romance between Christie (Redgrave) and American reporter Wally Stanton (Hoffman) who is searching for her.

Timothy Dalton, who would in 1987 find fame as James Bond in THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS, plays Christie’s adulterous husband. Thanks to production designer Shirley Russell and cameraman Vittorio Storaro, post-WWI Britain is beautifully recreated.

The New Yorker was not quite convinced though saying “It has a general air of knowingness, but seems to be missing the scenes which would explain why it was made.”