Sunday, January 30, 2011

CHRONOLOGY: 1936 (July-December)

JULY: Murder on the Links

A poster is advertising the 1936 Deauville cycling contest and a calendar in Giraud’s office reads “Mercredi 18 Mai”. “Mercredi 18 Mai” is actually inaccurate, because Mercredi (Wednesday) was not the 18th of May in 1936. 1932 is the closest fit. On the other hand, the Deauville cycling contest is in 1936, so we have to ignore one of them. My suggestion is to skip the date and keep the year, since May 1936 is already crowded (see this post). By moving Hastings's meeting with Bella forward a couple of months, we also solve some of the quirks in the 'Hastings Storyline'.

JULY: After the Funeral

The crucial evidence here is the painting of the Polflexan Pier. According to Susannah Henderson (the missionary), Cora copied:
“I’m sure aunt Cora did copy. I didn’t want to press it with Ms. Gilchrist here. –And why are you sure, mademoiselle? –Well, her paintings are mostly seaside scenes, and there is one of Polflexan, the lighthouse and the pier. But that pier burnt down five years ago. I remember reading about it, and her painting is dated last year. Oh yes, and then in her bedroom I found a postcard of Polflexan, with the pier still in place”.
Later in the episode, Cora’s picture is clearly dated ‘1935’.

Neither George nor the new apartment is mentioned, so the adaptation could be placed in 1936 (before Poirot changes apartments).

AUGUST: Evil Under the Sun

Captain Hastings’s invitation to his Argentinean restaurant (see 'Hastings Storyline') gives the date as “Saturday the 3rd of August 1936”; he and Poirot then spend a couple of weeks at the health resort waiting for Poirot’s medical results to come through.

The difficulty here is that a telegram to Arlena Stuart during her stay at the hotel is clearly shown on the screen and is dated 12/08/36. The telegram is read by Hastings during the first day of investigation (the same day as the murder took place). He explains that the telegram is "dated two days ago", meaning that the murder supposedly took place on the 14th. Counting the number of days of this case tells us that Evil Under the Sun takes place between August 3rd and (possibly) August 18th. However, Hastings supposedly returns from a trip to the Amazon in The ABC Murders on August 22nd, and he has been away for about six months. If we are to take the references in both episodes seriously, he'll have had about four days to travel back and forth, and that is completely impossible (consider the journey from Europe to South America).

My solution is to ignore the year of The ABC Murders and move that particular episode to August 1933, thus solving any time issue in this episode.

SEPTEMBER: Yellow Iris

The main story is set in 1934, during a General Strike in Argentine. There is a coup d’état, and Poirot is deported back to Britain. Then the story repeats itself “two years, almost to the day”. This day is probably in spring or early autumn, but for the sake of chronology, I place it here.

The reason for Poirot being in the Argentine in 1934 is said to be Hastings: “You will recall, Hastings, that you once asked me to visit you when you were living in the Argentine? – Yes, two years ago, but you cancelled in the last minute”. Poirot also explains that he was “due to travel to las pampas and your ranch”. (see 'Hastings Storyline' for solution).

OCTOBER: The Incredible Theft

Both Foreign Secretary "Mr. Eden" (Anthony Eden, December 1935- February 1938) and the Messerschmitt 109 plane (first used September 1935) mentioned. Has to take place in 1936. Looks like autumn, so I’ve placed it in early October.

NOVEMBER: The Adventure of the Cheap Flat

A clip from the movie “G Men” (April 1935) is shown early in the episode, and both the main character’s name (Brick Davies) and the actor’s name (Cagney) are mentioned by Poirot. Moreover, Poirot mentions Il Duce (Mussolini), once again asserting a 1930s setting. The episode definitely takes place in the autumn (a park full of leaves). Moreover, working undercover, Miss Lemon discusses "Lullaby of Broadway", which she later points out is 'an American publication dating back to last January'. The song was published in 1935, so that situates the episode in autumn 1936. I suggest early November.


DECEMBER: Hercule Poirot’s Christmas

Christmas.  The on-screen captions give "South Africa 1896" and "London 40 years later", so it's as good as given that this is Christmas 1936. The inclusion of the Spanish Civil War fits that, too.

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