Elinor Carlisle and Roddy Winter are happily engaged. Elinor's aunt is Laura Welman, wealthy but ailing and bed-ridden. Elinor receives an anonymous letter warning her that someone will try to gain favour with Mrs Welman at her expense. Her aunt's doctor, Dr Peter Lord, contacts Hercule Poirot to investigate. Mrs Welman dies with no will and Elinor, as her next-of-kin, receives everything. Shortly before Mrs Welman's death, Mary Gerrard, an old friend of the family, reappears after a long absence. Roddy falls for her and this ends his engagement to Elinor. Elinor is openly resentful of Mary ending her relationship with Roddy and says she wished Mary was dead. One afternoon, Mary stops by for tea and sandwiches with Elinor and a short while later is found dead, poisoned. After a thorough investigation, which Poirot assisted in, Elinor is charged with and ultimately found guilty of the murders of Mary and Mrs Welman. She is sentenced to hang. Doctor Lord insists that Elinor is innocent ...Written by
Hercule Poirot looks into the case of a woman accused for two murders: there is overwhelming evidence against her, her dislike for one of the victims - the girl who stole her fiancé's heart - is well-known, and she doesn't express any feelings of regret. Despite all that, a doctor, who is secretly in love with her, is convinced of her innocence and asks his old friend Poirot to help him prove it.
Let me put it simply: the story, direction, performances, music, and set design of "Sad Cypress" are of higher quality than approximately 90% of what is available out there. Dropping the (highly entertaining, it must be said) sidekicks, changing the tone to almost completely serious, and reducing Poirot's screen time in favor of the other characters (in fact, it could be argued that the beautiful Elisabeth Dermot Walsh is the central figure here) are all bold moves, and they pay off brilliantly, in this case at least. Up to this point in the series, and without having seen "Five Little Pigs" yet, the only episodes I would rank above this one are "Wasps' Nest" and "Lord Edgeware Dies".
A must-see if you love good cinema, even when it's made for TV. (***1/2)
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