This is a small canvas board, 5×7″. I really like the mysterious lighting and the comparative lack of color in the image, as well as the “blurry” Japp in the background. But as I try to explain to people, when painting a film screenshot like this (image from The Big Four), half the battle is just finding a shot where the lighting IS good. They’ve already done all the work of making a good screen image; I just adapt it to paint. 🙂
I keep tripping over silly little details about The Lost Mine, ranging from “oops… didn’t notice” to “OH MY GRACIOUS HOW DID I NOT SEE THAT I’M A TRIPLE IMBECILE!!!”
Take, for example, Mrs. Charles Lester. I will be honest: this performance by Barbara Barnes from The Lost Mine is one of my least favorite in the entire Poirot series. Her voice (sorry) makes me want to rip my hair out. I don’t care for the delivery and don’t find it particularly convincing. So maybe that’s why I was blocking her out and didn’t even recognize, until quite recently, the same actress when she appeared as “Lovely Louise” Leidner in Murder in Mesopotamia (giving, I think, a much better performance).
Generally speaking, I’m not the most astute at recognizing actors from one project to another. When I first watched through the Poirot series, which I did all in one shot, I had been thoroughly convinced that I’d NEVER seen Philip Jackson on screen before. But there was a character in The Lost Mine I knew I’d seen before: Anthony Bate, who played Lord Pearson. I recognized him from another “banker” role he played in the mid-80s in this weird little cult film by Paul McCartney, Give My Regards to Broad Street. And crikey, I SHOULD recognize him, having seen GMRTBS countless times since I was about 16 (though it’s admittedly an awful film in almost every respect, but of interest to big McCartney fans and containing good music). Yay, I’ve recognized someone! Only…
Well, here’s another shot from GMRTBS, with Bate on the right and… this other guy… on the left…
Yeah, this guy…
Yes, that is Philip. Freaking. Jackson. Who was one of the MAIN CHARACTERS in GMRTBS. Which I’ve been watching for half of my life. And who I didn’t recognize once when watching him play a main character throughout the ENTIRE Poirot series, though I recognized a single lesser role played by Anthony Bate from the same film.
“I am an imbecile.”
Speaking of Give My Regards to Broad Street and its Poirot connections, here’s something I did notice. In that film, the infamous Ralph Richardson makes an appearance as a batty pub proprietor who owns a little pet monkey. It was his second-to-last film credit, and the project was released posthumously. His last film, also a posthumous release, was Greystoke, a re-telling of the Tarzan story. Guess who else features in that last film with Richardson… in the role of a seedy inn proprietor… and who has a friend who owns a little pet monkey…
And in this scene, Suchet is playing opposite Ian Holm, whose character (Capitaine Phillippe D’Arnot) is a normally dapper little Belgian gent.
Did I mention that Ian Holm has also portrayed Poirot on screen?
Holy crumb. Say it with me, friends…
Since I’ve already covered the Hastings novels (no pun intended), I thought I’d round off the rest of the covers with “series sidekicks” Inspector Japp and Miss Lemon.
This cover for the story collection Murder in the Mews features Japp and Poirot contemplating a red “kipper” of a cuff link. Apparently I took this picture before painting the black line frame around the image! The quote on the back features an oft-reiterated sentiment from Poirot on the topic of murder.
This mini was the last one I ever painted, and I was happy to get Japp on just one more cover before the series was completed. He features in seven novels, after all, but was often squeezed off my covers by Hastings. This novel features Japp but not Hastings, and so was an ideal one to feature the good inspector. While I was painting this, my iPod actually fired up “Take On Me” by a-ha, and if you don’t know why that’s hilarious, well, it’s because Philip Jackson (in magnificent, rotoscoped glory) appears as Pipe Wrench Guy in the song’s video, which is considered by many to be one of the greatest music videos ever made. Go watch it now. Or maybe watch the literal video version for some extra giggles. Anyway, I was in hysterics while painting for that reason.
This photo is terrible, terrible, terrible, but Pauline Moran turned out nicely enough on this cover of Hickory Dickory Dock. Yellow is for Lemon. This novel was the most obvious one to feature Miss Lemon on the cover, as she (and her sister) feature prominently in the story. I rather wish I could take better photos of these book minis, but I don’t have them anymore. (And if I did, my photos would still be terrible!)
The eight Hastings novels were finished, but I wasn’t quite finished with putting Hugh Fraser on the book covers. After all, there were five short story collections yet to go, two of which feature the character prominently, as well as Black Coffee. “But Black Coffee is a novelized play, and wasn’t filmed,” you say, sagaciously. Shut up, I’m going to have a complete set, dangit!!
I cheated on Black Coffee by collecting a large number of stills throughout the series of Poirot and Hastings with tea or coffee cups… there are a lot of them… and finally choosing this shot from “The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb” for the cover. There’s a cup on the table, and a Highly Ambiguous Hastings with a Highly Ambiguous Poirot, neither of which have clear faces. This seemed appropriate in light of my shameful trickery.
Poirot’s Early Cases, on the other hand, features an honest shot and matching quote from a story in the actual collection: “The Adventure of Johnnie Waverly.” It’s one of my favorite Poirot/Hastings visuals for the sheer loveliness of the surroundings, with Poirot characteristically holding forth. The book color was a sort of “twilight gray,” as it would be the penultimate in book listing, next to the inky-dark Curtain. The image of the two strolling away from the viewer also seemed appropriate in that wistful light.
And finally, I finished off with Hastings in Poirot Investigates (I’ve given away three copies of that book this year, ma foi). I returned to my deceitful ways by painting a scene from “Murder in the Mews,” which is not in this collection. But I was very keen to paint this shot. The scene is a fun one (although Poirot is not actually investigating as such in this moment). And it’s difficult to find shots of the sort I could use where Hastings and Poirot are so close in size, rather than a less-distinct Hastings hovering behind Poirot’s shoulder; fine for film but harder for miniature painting.
It might be that I used the shot here instead of the Murder in the Mews collection because I’d already decided on a shot from that particular episode that featured Japp, and I wanted to make sure he got on a cover or two as well. There are even fewer Japp novels than Hastings novels. “Then why,” you ask with superior tones, “didn’t you just choose a different Japp shot for Poirot Investigates, since he features in the collection, and use this picture for the Murder in the Mews collection?” …Shut up.
No, actually it was because Hastings doesn’t feature in the stories from the Murder in the Mews collection, though he’s in the episode, and I didn’t want Hastings on book covers in which he wasn’t an appearing character, like Murder in Mesopotamia or Evil Under the Sun.