Monday, August 11, 2008

Film Flashback: Tommy and Tuppence

One of the most stylish, quirky and compatible couples ever to appear on-screen, James Warwick as Tommy and Francesca Annis as Tuppence Beresford are simply effervescent in Agatha Christie's Partners in Crime. Annis and Warwick starred as the adventure-loving husband-and-wife detective team in the television series which aired between 1983 and 1984 in the UK. I adored these adaptations for the plotlines of course, but the two main draws for me were the actors and their brilliant chemistry, and the clothes. Let's talk about each in turn.

Charm just oozed out of Annis and Warwick as they portrayed Tommy and Tuppence, and I can't think of anyone else who would have done that much justice to those roles. I'm sure if I thought hard enough, I would come up with a few but there's no need to really. Annis and Warwick brought a sense of playfulness [remember the twinkles from Warwick's eyes and the flirty glances between the two], a teeny bit of camp, and appropriately timed gravity to their roles. Their beautifully balanced performances, along with Agatha Christie's brilliant stories, gave us plenty of opportunities to gasp with suspense, roar with laughter at Tuppence's fancy antics like those hilarious ballet moves, and swoon a little at the romance of it all. They were a very romantic couple.

The other star in these adaptations was the 1920s flapper fashions for both the women and the men. Warwick looked as dapper as they come in his suits, hats and overcoats but it was Annis' costumes which really stood out. I looked forward to seeing the different outfits Tuppence would wear in each episode as much as I looked forward to the plot, and trying to deduce whodun the crime. Her cloche hats with matching coat, the extra long and layered strands of beads with matching earrings, the cute office dresses with dropped waistlines, and the extravagent shift dresses had me all atwitter. Could I dress like this? What could I do to simulate the flapper look from the elements in my closet? Let's see...I could somehow attach my tshirts to my shorts, turn my shorts into skirts, re-string all of my necklaces together into one, cut my hair...hmm. Silly me, I was only a tween around that time [can't remember exactly when the series aired in the US on PBS] and not the girliest of tweens at that. My closet consisted mainly of shorts and tshirts at that time, and kind of still do, so I never ended up dressing like a flapper in reality - although I probably imagined I did quite often during those tender years.

In comparison to other Agatha Christie television adaptations first aired in that same decade [Joan Hickson's Miss Marple and David Suchet's Poirot], the production values for Partners in Crime weren't too stellar. Although they had beautiful outdoor shots in real nature, the indoor shots obviously looked like they were taken on a sound stage. The furnishings on the set, especially of their home's lounge, were artfully created with Art Deco pieces which I liked - still do. This lended itself to a unique look and combined with the costumes and some "big" performances, the tv episodes resembled theater plays - a bit of murder mystery theater. They were quite enjoyable indeed.

Now that Annis and Warwick are in their early 60s, I fervantly hope that the powers-that-be bring them back as Tommy and Tuppence to adapt Christie's novel N or M? and her final novel Postern of Fate. These are absolutely brilliant works of detective fiction, in my meager opinion, which still show the chemistry between these two characters. In N or M? and Postern of Fate, they may be older and wiser, with children, but both Tommy and Tuppence continue to showcase their respective personality traits that defined them during their earlier adventures. Tuppence still remains as curious, plucky and thrill-seeking as ever while Tommy is her steady rock, the pragmatic one who follows his head as his eager, beloved wife follows her intuition. The stories are just perfect for screen adaptation, and it would be such a thrill to see Annis and Warwick reprise their colorful roles more than 25 years later. Please please please, pretty please?

[Photo at top of Tommy and Tuppence is from Amazon, photo of flapper fashion is from Ariki Art, and photo at bottom of Tommy and Tuppence is from Hercule Poirot Central]


Anonymous said...

read your blog on tommy and tuppence weren't they great I too would live to see them back again Louie

Geri said...

I know! This is THE time for them to film N or M? and Postern of Fate, my favorite!

Thanks for reading and commenting, Louie!