The granddaughter of late business tycoon Aristide Leonides, Sophia Leonides, visits private investigator Charles Hayward in his office. Sophia hires Charles to investigate Aristide’s death, for she believes he was murdered by a member of his sprawling and idiosyncratic family. Sophia notes that Leonides’ regular insulin injection had been laced with eserine from his eye drops, the resulting chemicals in them causing him to die.
Sophia believes this to have been a deliberate switch rather than accidental. Charles begrudgingly agrees to take on the case as a result of his feelings for Sophia as the two had enjoyed a brief love affair when they had met sometime prior in Cairo. Charles seeks the consent of Chief Inspector Taverner of Scotland Yard to look into the case, utilising his personal connection with Taverner, who had served with Charles’s father, a decorated former Assistant Commissioner who was murdered.
Charles visits the Leonides estate and proceeds to interview the various members of the family, finding various motives from each. Charles begins with Lady Edith De Haviland, the sister of Leonides’s first wife, who despised her brother-in-law and his callous attitude towards her grandchildren.
Leonides’s eldest son, Philip, hated his father for passing him over to run the family business and for refusing to take interest in a new play he’d written for his wife, Magda, a fading theatre actress. Philip and Magda provided Leonides with three grandchildren, namely Sophia and the precocious younger children Eustace and Josephine. Eustace takes a dislike to Charles and seeks to hamper him where possible whilst Josephine makes clear to Charles that she eavesdrops on everyone around the house, makes notes about their private lives and dislikes most of her family except for Edith and Sophia.
Charles subsequently finds that Leonides’ younger son, Roger, the emotionally immature managing director of the family’s flagship business, was reliant upon his father bailing out the business numerous times due to his poor management. The fact that Leonides was so willing to bail Roger out did not sit well with either Roger, due to his pride, or his domineering wife Clemency.
Charles further finds that Leonides’ second wife, Brenda, a much younger former Las Vegas casino dancer, is suspected by the rest of the family as having committed the murder. Evidence seems to back this up due to the facts that Brenda had been having an affair with Laurence Brown, the private tutor for the Leonides children, as well as that she administered the fatal dose of drugs to Leonides and that she stood to inherit the entirety of the Leonides estate due to him not having signed a will, meaning he died intestate and thus his estate passed to her.
Charles’s investigations and questions are met with hostility by most of the family whilst Josephine cryptically hints at clues along the way, to Charles’s irritation, as he finds her treating the investigation as a game to be tiresome. Events take a new, horrific turn when the ladder to Josephine’s treehouse is sabotaged and she falls from the tree, being hospitalised as a result. Charles suspects that this was due to Josephine’s habit of spying on the other family members and the killer thus wanting to silence her. In the aftermath, Charles’s suspicions are heightened and even extend to Sophia after a new will is discovered in which Leonides had left his estate to her, with some arguing that Sophia hired Charles to investigate the murder due to their personal history, knowing he would never accuse her due to their romantic past.
Crooked House is a British mystery film directed by Gilles Paquet-Brenner, based on Agatha Christie’s novel of the same name. The film stars Max Irons, Terence Stamp, Glenn Close, Gillian Anderson, and Christina Hendricks. Principal photography of the film began in September 2016. It aired in the UK on Channel 5 on 17 December 2017.
Crooked House (2017)
Directed by: Gilles Paquet-Brenner
Starring: Gillian Anderson, Christina Hendricks, Glenn Close, Max Irons, Stefanie Martini, Terence Stamp, Amanda Abbington, Julian Sands, Honor Kneafsey, Christian McKay, Jenny Galloway
Screenplay by: Julian Fellowes
Production Design by: Simon Bowles
Cinematography by: Sebastian Winterø
Film Editing by: Peter Christelis
Costume Design by: Colleen Kelsall
Set Decoration by: Rebecca Gillies
Art Direction by: Sion Clarke, Simon Lamont, David Wood
Music by: Hugo de Chaire
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic material and some sexual content.
Distributed by: Vertical Entertainment
Release Date: December 22, 2017