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Friday, August 19, 2016
Mr Davenheim's Clocks
When reconstructing the events leading up to a murder, it's important to get a record of what took place when. Clocks feature prominently in Agatha Christie's stories, particularly her early novels. In The Murder on the Links and The Big Four, a broken clock suggests the time of a murder. In The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, a doctor who mends clocks will accompany Hercule Poirot on his investigation.
The TV productions didn't always use all the little clues Christie sprinkled into her stories. One of the casualties was often clocks (or broken clocks), as well as the recorded times, which led the police to suspect or arrest people for a given murder. But the productions often showcased beautiful clocks in people's homes, as set dressings for these period productions. In "The Disappearance of Mr Davenheim," we find a smart mantle clock in the large, modern home of a bank executive who has gone missing. But it's far from the most impressive clock in this rich man's house.
This is the one I really like. We see Mrs Davenheim standing near it when she's waiting for her husband to emerge from his study, as well as when he leaves her to walk into the village. But we don't get to see its entire grandeur yet.
Later, when Captain Hastings arrives to question Mrs Davenheim on behalf of Poirot, accompanied by the stalwart Inspector Japp of Scotland Yard, we see Mrs Davenheim lighting a cigarette before this clock. We see that it is a pedestal clock. Its structure and ornamentation are reminiscent of a Greek temple. I long to see more of it, but then Mrs Davenheim turns away from the mirror to see her visitors, and the camera turns away with her.
The only time we see the entire clock is on the night of Mr Davenheim's disappearance. His wife is calling the police, to ask for assistance in locating him. She stares through the open blinds, through the window, and down the road to the village. While she's hoping to see her husband emerge from the darkness, I'm hoping to get a close up view of the clock. Sadly, this is as close as we get, and no amount of enlarging or zooming will give us a really clear view of this clock. But one thing is certain. In addition to losing a lovely wife, and a spacious home, Mr Davenheim lost two really nice clocks the day he disappeared.