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According to production notes from AMPAS library files, production designer Shirley Russell was also responsible for costume design. Although Russell was not credited onscreen as costume designer, she was nominated for an Academy Award in this role.
       Prior to the opening credits, a written prologue appears: "In December 1926, the famous mystery writer, Agatha Christie, disappeared from her home for eleven days. So began a strange episode which has never been convincingly explained. There are, however, certain clues which may account for Mrs. Christie's behaviour. What follows is an imaginary solution to an authentic mystery." A written epilogue appears at the end of the story: "Two years later the Christies were divorced. Archibald Christie married Nancy Neele."
       End credits include the acknowledgment: "The producers wish to thank Harrogate Resort Services Department and Bath City Council for their assistance and also the Steamtown Railway Museum and British Railways (Eastern Region)”; and the written statement: “Filmed at Bray Studios, Windsor, England and on location in Harrogate, Bath, York and in and around London.”
       As outlined in articles in the 18 Aug 1978 DV and the 11 Oct 1978 LAT, screenwriter Kathleen Tynan, wife of British theatre critic Kenneth Tynan, became interested in the true, but unexplained, story of Agatha Christie’s eleven-day disappearance while reading articles about the author following her death in 1976. After extensively researching the topic, Tynan considered making a documentary until producer David Puttnam offered to create a feature film as a fictional account of what happened during the eleven-day period. Puttnam recruited director Michael Apted and financing was arranged through Rank Organisationtion. ... More Less

According to production notes from AMPAS library files, production designer Shirley Russell was also responsible for costume design. Although Russell was not credited onscreen as costume designer, she was nominated for an Academy Award in this role.
       Prior to the opening credits, a written prologue appears: "In December 1926, the famous mystery writer, Agatha Christie, disappeared from her home for eleven days. So began a strange episode which has never been convincingly explained. There are, however, certain clues which may account for Mrs. Christie's behaviour. What follows is an imaginary solution to an authentic mystery." A written epilogue appears at the end of the story: "Two years later the Christies were divorced. Archibald Christie married Nancy Neele."
       End credits include the acknowledgment: "The producers wish to thank Harrogate Resort Services Department and Bath City Council for their assistance and also the Steamtown Railway Museum and British Railways (Eastern Region)”; and the written statement: “Filmed at Bray Studios, Windsor, England and on location in Harrogate, Bath, York and in and around London.”
       As outlined in articles in the 18 Aug 1978 DV and the 11 Oct 1978 LAT, screenwriter Kathleen Tynan, wife of British theatre critic Kenneth Tynan, became interested in the true, but unexplained, story of Agatha Christie’s eleven-day disappearance while reading articles about the author following her death in 1976. After extensively researching the topic, Tynan considered making a documentary until producer David Puttnam offered to create a feature film as a fictional account of what happened during the eleven-day period. Puttnam recruited director Michael Apted and financing was arranged through Rank Organisationtion. However, Rank withdrew from the project after realizing that Christie’s first husband, “Archie Christie,” an unsympathetic figure in the story, had served on their board.
       A 19 Oct 1977 Var article announced that Dustin Hoffman and First Artists Production Company, Ltd. (FAP) acquired the project from Rank. Hoffman had signed with FAP in 1972, joining in a partnership with fellow actors Paul Newman, Sidney Poitier, Barbra Streisand and Steve McQueen. The agreement stipulated that he would trade upfront salary for artistic autonomy, star in and produce two films, and be rewarded a share of the profits and gross, as described in a 14 Jan 1975 DV article. Production costs were covered by an arrangement between FAP and Warner Bros. Pictures, who acted as distributor. Hoffman’s other film under the FAP contract was Straight Time, (1978, see entry), which was shot prior to Agatha.
       Since the contract required Hoffman to play leading roles, the small part of an English gossip columnist in Agatha was rewritten as an American journalist, starring opposite Redgrave. Consequently, Agatha’s original story about two female characters, Christie and another woman in whom she confides, transformed into a story about Christie and the newspaperman obsessed with her, as Puttnam and Tynan explained in a 23 Mar 1978 LAT article. In addition to screenwriter Arthur Hopcraft, a 21 Mar 1979 NYT article mentioned that Murray Schisgal also participated in rewrites, but he is not credited in the picture.
       Tynan indicated in an interview for the 5 Feb 1979 LAHExam that she “was not entirely happy” with the script changes, while in the 18 Aug 1978 DV article, she stated that Hoffman’s position as “outsider” in the mystery appealed to her. Script revisions remained a subject of contention throughout shooting and in lawsuits filed during post-production. An 18 Apr 1978 LAT article reported that Puttnam withdrew his name from the screen credits and was quoted as saying, “The film was irresponsibly made. Actors should never be given the sort of say he [Hoffman] had.”
       Meanwhile, Christie’s estate tried to block the production in a federal lawsuit, arguing, among other matters, that the film and novelization violated the estate’s “right of publicity.” A 28 Sep 1978 DV reported that a judge determined that the First Amendment protected the works in question as fictional writings, clearing the way for the release of the film and the novel, also written by Kathleen Tynan.
       A 9 Dec 1977 Box brief reported that principal photography commenced 7 Nov 1977 and production notes in AMPAS library files specified that location work began in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, England, the actual spa town where Agatha Christie made her getaway in 1926. Although the Swan Hydropathic Hotel, where Christie stayed, had been modernized and renamed the Old Swan, the owners allowed Shirley Russell to restore original 1920s features and furnishings. In York, England, the production used a Victorian train station, in conjunction with the historic steam locomotive, the “Flying Scotsman.” For the spa, the filmmakers shot the exterior at Harrogate’s Royal Bath House and the interior among the ancient thermal chambers in Bath, England. The city and environs of Bath were also the setting for the manhunt scenes.
       When the production wrapped, controversy continued to surround the film. A 23 Feb 1978 HR article reported that Hoffman sued FAP on 22 Feb 1978 for $66 million dollars, accusing the company of breach of contract by seizing his legal right to creative control on Agatha and Straight Time. The lawsuit also named FAP president Phil Feldman, Warner Bros., Inc. and Agatha producer Jarvis Astaire, who was Hoffman’s former manager. As alleged by the suit, FAP shut down production before completion of a final scene. According to a 21 Mar 1979 NYT interview with Hoffman, the missing scene clarified that “Wally Stanton” was a failed novelist, a motivation for his interest in Christie.
       Responding to the lawsuit’s claims in a 19 Jul 1978 Var article, FAP stated that Hoffman’s contract included a takeover clause in the event that budget and schedule exceeded certain parameters. The company declared final production costs were approximately $3.5 million, a fifteen percent overrun, and noted that the forty-nine day schedule ran an extra twenty-three days. FAP filed a countersuit against Hoffman in Oct 1978, the details of which are outlined in an 11 Oct 1978 DV article, which included complaints that Hoffman neglected post-production responsibilities, particularly dialogue looping.
       Although certain injunction requests were ruled on, the final outcome of the original Hoffman and FAP lawsuits is not known.
       In an 18 Jan 1979 LAT article, director Michael Apted stated he was “sympathetic to Dustin all along,” describing him as crucial to getting the film made. Apted also assisted in convincing Hoffman to eventually finish the necessary looping for the film’s soundtrack, as described in articles in the 24 Jan 1979 LAT and the 27 Jan 1979 NYT.
       As mentioned in production notes, Agatha marked the motion picture debut for actress Celia Gregory. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
9 Dec 1977.
---
Daily Variety
14 Jan 1975.
---
Daily Variety
18 Aug 1978.
---
Daily Variety
28 Sep 1978.
---
Daily Variety
11 Oct 1978
p. 1, 4.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Feb 1978
p. 1, 4.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Feb 1979
p. 10, 26.
LAHExam
5 Feb 1979
Section B, p. 1, 4.
Los Angeles Times
23 Mar 1978
Section E, p. 14.
Los Angeles Times
18 Apr 1978
Section E, p. 7.
Los Angeles Times
11 Oct 1978
Section F, p. 1, 6.
Los Angeles Times
18 Jan 1979
Section E, p. 16.
Los Angeles Times
24 Jan 1979
Section E, p. 7.
Los Angeles Times
8 Feb 1979
Section IV, p. 1.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
21 Feb 1979
p. 79.
New York Times
27 Jan 1979
p. 12.
New York Times
9 Feb 1979
Section 3, p. 10.
New York Times
21 Mar 1979
Section C, p. 17.
New Yorker
26 Feb 1979
pp. 101-103.
Newsweek
19 Feb 1979
p. 57.
Time
26 Feb 1979
p. 76.
Variety
19 Oct 1977.
---
Variety
19 Jul 1978
p. 4, 30.
Variety
14 Feb 1979
p. 23.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
First Artists Presents
A Sweetwall Production
in association with Casablanca Filmworks
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Gaffer
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
Set dresser
Prop buyer
Const mgr
Prop master
COSTUMES
Ward master
MUSIC
Mus cond by
SOUND
Dubbing mixer
Dubbing ed
MAKEUP
Chief make-up
Chief hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Continuity
Casting
Loc mgr
Loc mgr
Prod accountant
Prod asst
STAND INS
Stunt pilot
SOURCES
MUSIC
"Yes Sir That's My Baby," music by Walter Donaldson, arranged and conducted by Howard Blake
"My Wonderful One," composed by Marshall A. Neilan, arranged and conducted by Howard Blake.
SONGS
"Close Enough for Love" (theme for Agatha), lyrics by Paul Williams, music by Johnny Mandel, sung by Pattie Brooks
"They Didn't Believe Me," music by Jerome Kern, lyrics by Herbert Reynolds, arranged and conducted by Howard Blake
Gilbert & Sullivan Medley, music by W. S. Gilbert, lyrics by Arthur Sullivan, arranged and conducted by Howard Blake.
PERFORMER
DETAILS
Release Date:
1979
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 9 February 1979
Production Date:
began 7 November 1977 in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, England
Copyright Claimant:
SweetWall Productions, Inc., The First Artists Production Company, Ltd.
Copyright Date:
9 April 1979
Copyright Number:
PA28103
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Color by Technicolor®
Widescreen/ratio
Filmed in Technovision®
Duration(in mins):
104
MPAA Rating:
PG
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1926, successful mystery writer Agatha Christie persuades her husband Archie, whom she adores despite his infidelity, to accompany her to a literary luncheon one afternoon at the Savoy Hotel in London, England. As they depart Archie’s office, Agatha looks intently at his secretary, Miss Nancy Neele. Attending the event is visiting American journalist, Wally Stanton, who watches from afar as the timid Agatha thanks the audience before signing copies of her latest book, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. Because he plans to interview the author soon, Wally leaves the crowded luncheon without introducing himself. Later, at the Christie’s home, Archie, who has spent the night elsewhere, returns for breakfast and announces that he wants a divorce so that he can marry Nancy. Tearful, Agatha says she will not allow it. On the way out, Archie encounters Wally arriving for his appointment, but Archie turns him away, declaring that his wife does not give interviews. Agatha lies in bed distraught, when her secretary, Charlotte Fisher, enters the room and mentions that Nancy is going to the Valencia Hotel in the spa town of Harrogate, Yorkshire, for “slimming treatments.” That evening, Agatha packs her suitcase and tells no one where she is going. While driving, she swerves to miss a dog and hits a tree. The next morning, the police investigate the abandoned car and find Agatha’s identification inside, but there is no sign of the author. Hearing the news, Wally makes his way to the police scene. Based on a disturbing letter Agatha left for Charlotte, Deputy ... +


In 1926, successful mystery writer Agatha Christie persuades her husband Archie, whom she adores despite his infidelity, to accompany her to a literary luncheon one afternoon at the Savoy Hotel in London, England. As they depart Archie’s office, Agatha looks intently at his secretary, Miss Nancy Neele. Attending the event is visiting American journalist, Wally Stanton, who watches from afar as the timid Agatha thanks the audience before signing copies of her latest book, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. Because he plans to interview the author soon, Wally leaves the crowded luncheon without introducing himself. Later, at the Christie’s home, Archie, who has spent the night elsewhere, returns for breakfast and announces that he wants a divorce so that he can marry Nancy. Tearful, Agatha says she will not allow it. On the way out, Archie encounters Wally arriving for his appointment, but Archie turns him away, declaring that his wife does not give interviews. Agatha lies in bed distraught, when her secretary, Charlotte Fisher, enters the room and mentions that Nancy is going to the Valencia Hotel in the spa town of Harrogate, Yorkshire, for “slimming treatments.” That evening, Agatha packs her suitcase and tells no one where she is going. While driving, she swerves to miss a dog and hits a tree. The next morning, the police investigate the abandoned car and find Agatha’s identification inside, but there is no sign of the author. Hearing the news, Wally makes his way to the police scene. Based on a disturbing letter Agatha left for Charlotte, Deputy Chief Constable Kenward has instructed his officers to drag a nearby pond for the author’s body. When Archie arrives, he dismisses Kenward’s suggestion of suicide, believing the Constable is overreacting. Meanwhile, Agatha arrives by train in Harrogate and checks into the Old Swan Hotel under the alias “Theresa Neele.” She repeatedly telephones the Valencia Hotel until she is assured Nancy has arrived. Agatha books an appointment at the Royal Baths, known for therapeutic treatment of various ailments, and becomes fascinated by its unfamiliar, healing devices. As a manhunt is organized and news of Agatha’s disappearance dominates newspaper headlines, the celebrated author remains incognito in Harrogate. Meanwhile, Wally pursues the Christie story by speaking with Charlotte, who assures him that Agatha would never kill herself. Deciding to trust Wally, Charlotte shows him a recent advertisement in the personal column of The Times, seeking relatives of “Mrs. Theresa Neele.” Based on a previous discussion with her employer, Charlotte believes Agatha wrote this message as a way of letting Charlotte know how to reach her. Grateful, Wally says he will use his connections at The Times to learn the address from the box number provided. Meanwhile, at the Royal Baths, Agatha receives a treatment from Mrs. Braithwaite and asks about the safety of the various electrical contraptions, including the galvanic bath and the therapeutic chair. Later, in her room, Agatha makes notes about the devices. After discovering Agatha’s whereabouts, Wally registers at the Old Swan under the alias, “Curtis Schatz, Jr.,” and that evening introduces himself to “Theresa” without revealing his true identity. In the course of their conversation, Wally is attentive, and Agatha confides in him that she still loves her husband, stating that he died recently. Later in his room, Wally types an account of his “First Meeting with Mrs. C.” During their stay at the hotel, Wally and Agatha continue to spend time together, and Wally grows increasingly enamored of the mysterious author. At one of her treatments with Mrs. Braithwaite, Agatha tries the therapeutic chair and comments that it looks like the electric chair used in America’s prisons. She asks if the machine could be lethal, and Braithwaite’s colleague explains that one would need to know how to adjust the rheostats, which control the degree of electrical current. When the therapist confuses “Theresa Neele” with “Nancy Neele,” Agatha learns that Nancy has been using the chair for her slimming treatments. At a shop in town, Agatha buys a rheostat, but Wally secretly follows her and buys a similar device to decipher Agatha’s strange behavior. Later, he tells Agatha that he wants to comfort her, since he recognizes her sadness, and she admits that her late husband did have an affair, the thought of which still obsesses her. Before they say goodnight, she kisses Wally. In the treatment room, Agatha arranges for Mrs. Braithwaite to be absent long enough to study the circuitry of the therapeutic chair. She then telephones Nancy at her hotel and pretends to be calling on behalf of Mrs. Braithwaite in order to reschedule Nancy’s therapy appointment for 9:30 the following morning. In her room, Agatha continues to study electrical current and practices with the rheostat. That evening, she also discovers that “Curtis” is the journalist Wally Stanton after seeing an illustration of him alongside his column in the newspaper. The next morning at the Royal Baths, Agatha arranges for Mrs. Braithwaite to be away on a house call while she takes over the treatment room for Nancy’s appointment. Meanwhile, at the Old Swan, the police arrive, suspicious that Agatha is the guest, “Theresa Neele.” They enter her room, despite Wally’s attempt to stop them. In the fireplace, Wally discovers burnt pages from Agatha’s journal, with notes about Nancy and diagrams of the therapy machines. Aware that Nancy’s appointment was rescheduled for that morning, he runs to the Royal Baths. In the treatment room, Agatha has swapped the “on” and “off” plates on the rheostat controls. When Nancy enters the dimly lit room, Agatha, concealed in the corner, asks Nancy to turn the current off. Nancy hits the switch and Agatha, sitting in the therapy chair, shakes violently, as the electricity jolts her body. Wally rushes in and turns off the machine, and Nancy is shocked to see Mrs. Christie. Agatha appears lifeless before finally drawing a breath. Through a back exit, Wally sneaks Agatha out of the facility and shelters her at another hotel in town until she regains her strength. Soon, Archie arrives in Harrogate and reunites with Agatha in front of a crowd of onlookers in the hotel lobby, while upstairs in his room, Wally finishes his story entitled, “How I Found Agatha Christie.” At a press conference, Archie explains that his wife’s disappearance was caused by amnesia. As Wally packs, Agatha comes to his room to thank him. He hands her the pages of his story, revealing that he has changed his mind about publishing it. Wally tells Agatha that he loves her, but she says that she must return to her husband so she can divorce him.
+

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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