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Agatha Christie's Poirot (1989–2013): Season 1, Episode 8 - The Incredible Theft - full transcript

A wealthy industrialist's plan to snare a Nazi sympathizer goes awry when the secret plans for a new fighter plane inexplicably go missing.


Sir George.

Show me.

Better be good.

Damn sight too good

for His Majesty's government,
if you ask me.

You expect too much of
the Defence Committee, Mayfield.

So, this is it at last, is it?

A Mayfield Kestrel.

Until we can think
of a better name.

Petroleum jelly, Hastings.

That is the secret.

You rub it well in, and it will
prevent the cracking, yes?

How would you work out
cubic what-you-call-'ems?


Cubic thingummies.
How do you work them out?

I mean, this ceiling's, what,
10 feet up, yes?

So, do you multiply 10 --

Hastings, I am trying
to instruct you

in the care of patent leather,

something that will be of use
to you in later life.

Well, so will cubic whatsits.

Suppose I had to
survey something or something.

You do not deceive me, Hastings.

You are having
these eccentric thoughts

because of this girl
of yours, huh?

This student of architecture.

Well, we never seem
to have anything to talk about.

I tried reading a book
about Bernini.

She's very keen on Bernini.

I couldn't make head or tail
of it.

No, no, no, no, no, no,

Women do not wish to talk about
Bernini and cubic thingummies.

I don't know that she wants
to talk about anything.

She's never in
when I call 'round to see her.

I end up having tea
with her mother every day.

How does it compare
with the Messerschmitt 109?

More maneuverable.

Got a turning circle
of 800 feet.

Visibility is better, too.

Fuel injection?



P.M.'s very keen
on fuel injection.

Yes, he's right.

But we just haven't got
a reliable system yet.

There's a lady
keeps telephoning, Mr. Poirot.


What a terrible circumstance.

There's no need to be sarcastic,
Mr. Poirot.

I was going on to say that
I didn't put her through to you

because she wouldn't
give her name.


I told her you don't
take anonymous phone calls.

But I do, Miss Lemon.

Sometimes I think
anonymous telephone calls

are the only ones worth taking.

But how will I know
where to file her

if I haven't got a name?

Life first, Miss Lemon.

Filing second.

Very well, then.

Next time she calls,
I'll let her talk to you.

And on your own head be it.

You shouldn't tease her, Poirot.

She makes it irresistible.

It's like a solid wall
of lead 2 feet square

coming straight at you.

The main spire
must be tremendously strong

to withstand the g-force
of that turning circle.

And the recoil from the guns.

It's built up in layers,

so the whole thing acts
like a giant leaf spring.

And we're still
improving on it, too.

But I can't go on pouring my own
money into the Kestrel forever.

You seem not to understand
the position

that the Defence Committee
is in, Mayfield.

They like you.

Most of them
are 100% behind you.

But that Japanese business only
brought the government down.

One more scandal like that --

There are no more scandals
like that.

You're saying
they don't trust me.

-It's not a question of trust.
-Yes, it is!

Very well, then.

If they want me to prove to them
that they can trust me,

that's what I'll do.

How do you mean?
How will you do that?

I've invited Mrs. Vanderlyn down
for the weekend.

Mrs. Vanderlyn?
You mad?

You've invited her down here?

And before the weekend is out,
I promise you,

I'll have hooked Mrs. Vanderlyn,
reeled her in, and gaffed her.


By using the plans
of the Kestrel as a bait.

You idiot.

You can't go using
top secret papers like that.

This is madness.

Hercule Poirot's residence.


What name is it, please?

Hold on one moment, please.

It's your anonymous
telephone caller again.

She's calling herself Miss Smith
this time, but it's her.

Put her through, Miss Lemon.

Yes, Mr. Poirot.

Are you there?

Mr. Poirot
will speak to you now.


-M. Poirot?
-Yes, Miss Smith.

I need to meet you, M. Poirot.
This is a national emergency.

No, no, no.
I can't come there.

Somewhere where nobody
will know us.

I'm sure that can be arranged,

Where do you suggest?

M. Poirot.

You are not Miss Smith.

Yes, I am.

Where is your green carnation?

I wanted time to study you.

Besides, green doesn't suit me.

I was carrying my Times.

These arrangements, once made,

should be adhered to,
Miss Smith.

This is so difficult.

My husband --


My husband has invited a woman

to stay this weekend
at our house.

No, Miss Smith.
Go no further.

Poirot does not handle
this type of work.

No, no. You don't understand.
This is a dangerous woman.

I know that a man

as distinguished in his field
as you are

wouldn't handle
sordid domestic cases.

There's more at stake here.

I see.

My name is not really
Miss Smith.

I am astounded.

My name is Mayfield --
Lady Margaret Mayfield.

And who is Lord Mayfield?

There isn't one.
I'm only Mrs. Mayfield, really.

But my father was an earl.

And who is this dangerous woman
you talk about?

Mrs. Joanna Vanderlyn.

Mrs. Vanderlyn is rumored
to have pro-German sympathies.

There was a scandal
two years ago

with a young marquess
of Lowestoft.

He shot himself.

Yes, I remember.

Mrs. Vanderlyn was involved?

Yes. It was thought

that he passed on to her
certain secret information.

I did not know that.

It was kept hushed up
as much as possible.

His regiment had been involved
in testing the Galahad tank.

And you think --

My husband is engaged
in a lot of projects

that are crucial
to the future of this country.

If an enemy
should gain access --

Surely, you do not suspect
your husband of treachery?

No, of course not.

But the government
has treated him very badly

ever since
that Japanese business.

You must have read about it.

Even though
his name was cleared,

they still don't give him
the backing he needs.

Bitterness may make him
less careful than he should be.

Please help me, M. Poirot.

There is so much at stake
for England.

Good evening, Lady Carrington.

Hello, Dawson.
Where is everybody?

On the lower terrace,
Lady Carrington.

We can only put our
trust in the League of Nations,

pray for peace.

Isn't that
a rather peculiar thing

for an arms manufacturer
to do, sir?

What is it Beverley Nichols
calls you?

Merchants of death.

Mr. Mayfield is an armaments
manufacturer, Reggie,

because this particular game can
only be played from strength.

-Quite right, Sir George.

Oh, sorry, Dad.

Didn't realize
it was all a game.

Where has the fabled
Mrs. Vanderlyn got to, I wonder?

I haven't the foggiest.
She arrived hours ago.

You have met her before?

Not since I was a child.


Yes, she's the daughter
of H.K. Griffin.

Man used to be
American ambassador over here.

we all have to be very nice

to the Americans these days.

Ready for when the war starts.


Mother's finally arrived.

All these exciting people.

I wasn't warned
it was going to be a rout.

Isabelle, I'm so glad
you could come.

I'm just sorry
I'm so unforgivably late.

Will I be completely deterred
if I don't change?

You'll be the talk
of Steeple Bumpstead.

Oh, God, I wouldn't want that.

-Good journey, darling?
-Lovely, George.

The A11 is
particularly enthralling

at this time of year.
Hello, Tommy.

May I introduce
M. Hercule Poirot?

-How nice to meet you.

-Foreign, yes?
-Uh --

You'll soon pick up
our little ways.

Talking of which...

Oh, how English.

How very, very English.

We've got some very American
dry martinis mixed,

if you'd like one.

Oh, that would be wonderful.

Trouble with
the Foreign Office is,

it's very long on protocol

on whether the prime minister
of Timbuktu

should take precedence
over the king of Ongo-Bongo.

I'm very short
on what Winnie describes

as intestinal fortitude.

I'm sure that's not true
of your foreign secretary.

I must bow to your superior
knowledge, Mrs. Vanderlyn.

I'm sure you know Mr. Eden
a great deal better

than us humble souls, eh?

Oh, I wouldn't say that.

But when I had lunch
with him yesterday,

he was saying more or less
the same as you

about the Foreign Office's
passion for protocol.

No, thank you.

I refuse to let men
waste their time drinking port

when there's bridge
to be played.

-Sir George.

You see what sort of a woman
she is.

The sort of woman
Mrs. Vanderlyn is

does not make a matter
of national importance.

I do hope you're right.

M. Poirot.

the whole European situation's

rather like a bridge game
at the moment.

On the one hand,
we have the diminutive Fhrer,

on the other hand,
Signor Mussolini,

the bullfrog
of the Pontine Marshes.

In the end, they'll both
need taking down a peg or two.

And what about
the Emperor Hirohito, sir?

Will he need taking down a peg?

What did he say?

Has he said
something nasty again?

He's such a little snot,
aren't you, darling?

Tommy's working too hard.

He believes
we're on the brink of war.

That he can stop it

Something like that.

The truth is, of course,
he can do more than most people.

A little slam, I think.

Congratulations, partner.

Aren't you going to give us
our revenge?

George and I have work to do,
I'm afraid.

The plans are ready
for you, sir.

We'll join you in a minute.
Come along, George.

If you'll excuse us.

I will take a promenade
in the garden before turning in.

It will clear my brain.

You might've done that
before we played cards.

Madam is too agreeable.

Good night.

There you are, my friend.

Why can't I stay at the house?
That's what I want to know.

Number one, Hastings,
you were not invited.

A pure oversight.

Number two, I need you at this
stage incognito and very nearby.

My incognito's gone,
for a start.

Why is this?

Well, the pub's so crowded,
I'm having to share a room.

And you'll never guess who with.

No, Hastings, I will not.


With the Chief Inspector Japp?

And the room
has only got one bed.

I wonder why the
Chief Inspector Japp is here.

You're not very sympathetic.

We all have our troubles,

I would rather share a bed

with the Chief Inspector Japp
and three of his sergeants

than to be partnered at bridge
with the Lady Carrington.

Yes, I've been hearing about her
from the chauffeur.

Apparently, Sir George
is trying to get her

to give up cards altogether.

Yes, well, I'm very pleased
to hear it, mon ami.

She plays abominably.

No, but she loses a lot of money
at it.

She's heavily in hock
to money lenders.


Hastings, try to find out
for me, if you please,

who asked the chief inspector
to be here.

That is most interesting.

-Good night, Mumsy.
-Goodnight, darling.

What do you think of this idea

of detecting aircraft
by radio echoes?


We've put a certain amount
of money into research.

How much money?

I'm not gonna tell you that.

Oh, hello.

I just came in to fetch my bag.

Don't mind us.

Good night again.

Good night.

Having that woman here
is a mistake, Mayfield.

No matter what your intentions
are, it'll do you no good.

It will do me
a great deal of good

when I get her put
into Holloway Prison.

Ah, it's all nonsense,
all this talk of trapping her.

What was that?


Someone ran across
the terrace there.

I didn't see anything.

Anyway, how do you intend
to trap her?

I'm sure I saw something.

Why do politicians
treat everyone else like idiots?


Probably because they voted
for us in the first place.

I've laid everything out
on the desk, sir.

Will you want me
anymore tonight?

Uh, no.
We'll probably be late.

You might as well turn in.

-I'll lock these away myself.

Goodnight, Mr. Mayfield.
Sir George.

Just a minute.

You've forgotten
the most important paper.

I don't think so, sir.

Sheet number three,

the mathematics
for the aluminium stressing.

I put it on the top.

It isn't here.

I don't understand.

I put it here.
I know I did.

No, you must have
made a mistake.

It must still be in the safe.

No. I put it there.

I looked for it particularly
and put it on the top.

Do you mean to tell me
it's gone?

Who's been in this room?

No one at all.

Well, it can't just have
vanished into thin air.

Someone must have taken it.

Can Poirot be of assistance?

Finding the lost property

is something
of a profession of mine.

What is missing?

This is a matter
of national security.

I think we should
alert Inspector Japp.

Telephone him at The Three
Crowns, would you, Mr. Carlile?

Where does that door lead?

Well done.

This wasn't meant to happen.

But it was.
You said --

Not like this.

She's turned the tables on us.

Oh, my God.
I knew it.

I knew it.

I told you not to play
with fire.

What am I going to tell
the P.M.?

Nothing for the moment.

You mustn't panic.

I'm damned if that
woman's gonna get away with it.

M. Mayfield, forgive me.

I do not wish to delve
into the secrets.

But, please, can you give me
some idea what is on the paper?

I don't know how closely

you follow international events,
Mr. Poirot,

but Germany has just announced

that she has parity
with this country in the air.

And so I understand.

Yeah, well, what that means
is that that piece of paper

is perhaps our only chance of
keeping our civilian population

safe from aerial attack.

Am I exaggerating?

Not a jot.

So, the technical
breakthrough, huh?

And worth a considerable amount
of money.

Oh, money doesn't enter into it.

Well, it might with some people
and in certain quarters.

Traitors, you mean.


But anyone, me included,

could knock on the door
of the German Embassy,

and when I come out,
I could be a rich man

if I had these papers?



M. Carlile, before I went
for my promenade in the garden,

you volunteered to get
the papers ready in here?


And shortly after that,

everyone else went upstairs
to prepare for the bed?

I presume so.
I don't know.

Yes, they did.

Mrs. Vanderlyn came down again.


That's right.
She'd forgotten her bag.

The old gasp, huh?

Uh, no. Pardon.

The old wheeze --

to return for something
you say you had forgotten.


M. Carlile,

after you had opened the safe
and got out the papers,

did you leave the study again,
even for a moment?

No, not for a second.

So, everyone else was upstairs
preparing for the bed,

except Mrs. Vanderlyn,
who came down for her bag.

And yet the plans are stolen.

M. Carlile,

do you still want to say
you did not leave the study?

I don't know
what all this is about, Poirot.

Carlile has been
my confidential secretary

for nine years.

He has access
to all my private papers.

He could have made a copy
of that sheet anytime he liked

with no one being any the wiser.

Why would he need to stage
a rather clumsy robbery?

Thank you, Mr. Mayfield.

If M. Poirot has any suspicions,

I should like
all my belongings searched.

No, no, no, no, no.

M. Carlile,
I cast not the aspersions.

It is a small problem, merely,

but a problem that will agitate
the little gray cells

most adequately.

With Carlile on guard
all the time,

I don't see how anyone
could get into that room.

Yes, well, it is no use

running to conclusions,
M. Mayfield.

It is from there that you saw
Mrs. Vanderlyn in here.

A little further back, I think.

From where I was in the garden,

I could see that the dining room
was in darkness.

But it would have been
quite possible

for someone to use those doors
to get out onto the terrace

and, from there, into the study.

I told you
I thought I saw something!

-By George, you did.

Across the lawn
to a waiting car.

He'll be miles away by now.

No, no, no, no, no.

The one way through the garden

would have taken him
directly past me.

Uh, what's going on?

Get back to bed, Reggie.


So, an interesting situation.

The only person
who could possibly have stolen

those most important papers
is one of us.

Or Mrs. Vanderlyn.

Evening, Mr. Mayfield.
Sir George. Poirot.

What's all this, then,
about a theft?

A very important secret paper

has been stolen from my study,
Chief Inspector.

Right, lads, fan out.

Whittaker, take the north end
of the house,

Dobson, the upstairs landing,
Biels, the servants' quarters.

It is not, perhaps,
as simple as that, mon ami.

Whoever stole this paper

will not leave it lying around
where we will find it.

Leave this to the professionals,

Missing documents are an
everyday occurrence to my lads.

I'll bet.

And who might you be?

His son.

I thought I told you
to go to bed!

Sorry, Chief Inspector.

It's all perfectly simple,

You see, we know
who stole those papers.


Uh, George, I do wish --

A guest in this house --
a Mrs. Vanderlyn.


So, I suggest we get
straight up there and --

Pardon me for asking, sir,

but how, precisely,
do we know this Mrs., uh...


Can't go into details now.
Matter of national security.

-All you've got to do --

I don't know
that this is the right idea.

Sorry, Mayfield.

I know it's your house
and all that sort of thing,

but it's my pigeon now.

Come on, Japp.

Mrs. Vanderlyn?

What is it?

This is Sir George Carrington.
I have the police with me.

What do you want?

I'd like you to get dressed,
Mrs. Vanderlyn,

and accompany me
to the local police station.

What are you talking about?

If you'd just
get dressed, ma'am.

Damned if I will.
What for?

Some papers have been stolen

from Mr. Mayfield's study,
Mrs. Vanderlyn.


If you could just get dressed,
Mrs. Vanderlyn.

Did you plan this, Mr. Mayfield?

I'll get dressed.

You'll join us
at the station, Mr. Mayfield?

It must be here.
It must be.

Where's she hidden it, Poirot?

You're used to
this sort of thing.

She's got it with her.
That's what it is.

They'll find it
when they search her.

Let's imagine you're a woman,

By all means, Sir George,
if it will help you.

You're a woman.

You're in a strange household.
You steal some papers.

Where do you hide them?

Sir George, there is one thing
in all this

that I do not understand.

Keep going.

I demonstrated,
quite cogently, I think,

that of all the people
in the house,

only you, M. Mayfield,
M. Carlile, and myself

could possibly have stolen
those papers, yes?


And yet you go on talking
as if Mrs. Vanderlyn

was, without doubt,
the miscreant.

Hmm. Huh?

Oh, yes.

Well, that sort of thing
is all very well, I'm sure.

But it's only theory, isn't it?

We're practical folk here,


Nothing, sir.

It's not in her room.

She hasn't got it on her,

This is a disaster, Mayfield.

She must have hidden it
somewhere to collect it later.

Froggy thinks she didn't do it.

Froggy knows she didn't do it.

Anywhere you see the dust's
been disturbed, let me know.

It's just one sheet of paper
we're looking for, remember.

It could be anywhere.

That's got rid of that.

Poirot, my dear fellow,

I promise you, you've never
heard anything like it.

You know those boots he wears?


The other one -- crash.

When he finally gets into bed,
it's worse.

-He talks in his sleep.

"Now I've got you,
young fellow, me lad.

Japp of the Yard strikes again."

I thought I'd go mad.

Every time I managed to
drop off, he'd start shouting.

"Stand back, lads.
He's got a blancmange."

Some of the things he was saying
were enough to make a cat laugh.

I can't take much more of it,

I've been through three days
of a jerry barrage.

Where is he now?

Gone back up to the house.

By the way, I found out
who asked him down.

It was Sir George.

Not M. Mayfield.

Apparently not.

Just as I thought.

What happened
about Mrs. Vanderlyn?

Oh, she's leaving this morning
in a great, um, huff, yes?

In fact, the whole house
is quite deserted.

Lady Carrington and Reggie
left after breakfast.

I want to ask you something.

Ask away.

Last night at dinner,
one of the guests

said something to M. Mayfield
about Japan.

What is it about Japan,

Well, this is a few years back,

when the Japs took it into
their head to invade Manchuria.

The press got hold of something
about Mayfield's company

supplying them
with the howitzers

they were
bombarding Shanghai with.

It turns out, eventually,
that the press had got hold

of the wrong end of the stick,
as per usual.

But by that time, there had been
questions in Parliament,

God knows what.

And a lot of the mud stuck.

Hastings, I must go back
to the house.

Well, give me half a sec,
and I'll drive you.

I want to change the plugs
this morning, anyway.

I thought I'd do it up there.

No, no, no.

I need to walk.

And to think.

Mrs. Vanderlyn.

-You left this bag.
-Thank you.


Post this for her, will you?

She'll only forget.

Yeah, she's definitely
running rich.

Here, let's have a look
at the carb.


Hastings, no more
of the tinkering.

We have to follow
Mrs. Vanderlyn.

But I've got the plugs out.

It'll take me an hour
to get them back.

Oh, no!
Mon Dieu!

Here, Hastings.


I'm assuming they're heading
for the London road.

There. Look!

We must not let them see us,

-Can we get a move on, John?
-Yes, ma'am.

-What is it?

They should have turned left
on the A11.

Why is that, Hastings?

Because that's the road
to London.

Where are they going, then?

Get the map
out of the pocket there.

Hold tight.

They're on that road there.

Wicken Bonhunt.


Brent Pelham.


-Mean anything to you?

Perhaps where they're going
isn't on the main road.

Look at the villages
on either side of the road.

Hare Street.



Stocking Pelham.



Fellow I knew at the front
had a place in Throcking.

Right next door to the German
ambassador's country house.


Oh, my God!

Can we get there before them?

We can have a damn good try.

Where is it?

I don't know.

It was on the salver
in the hall!

Dawson put it there!

It seems just
to have disappeared.

Oh, God!

Can nothing go right?!

Good God, Poirot.

Yes, Hastings.

We have seen enough.

Come, my friend.

I wouldn't have thought she'd
have hidden them there, sir.

Have you got any better
suggestions, Constable?

No, sir.


You have to trust me, Margaret.

I do trust you, Tommy.

Everything you've worked for
is at stake, though.

It'll be all right.

Who is it?


What do you want, Mr. Poirot?

I have come back to tell you

that the plans
have been safely delivered.


To the German ambassador.

I am sure Herr Von Eckersdorf
was very pleased.

Tommy, what are we going to do?

Also, Lady Margaret, I found
this from one of your guests.

It needed to be posted.

-Give me that!
-I don't want to read it.

The address is probably
a little cigarette shop

or a news agent,
M. Mayfield, huh?

From which you can collect it
at your leisure?

No need to go into that,
Mr. Poirot.

Let sleeping dogs lie.

No, no, no, no, M. Mayfield.

Between the husband
and the wife,

there should be not
the sleepy dogs.

I have no wish to read a letter
belonging to one of my guests.


Suppose I tell you that this
was written by Mrs. Vanderlyn

and that I could guarantee

that you would not understand
one word of it.

They're in Chinese.


But Tom's signature's
at the bottom.

This is the one piece of
evidence that links your husband

to the sales of arms
to the Japanese.

Somehow, they had fallen
into the hands of the Germans.

It was these two pieces of paper

that Mrs. Vanderlyn used
to blackmail him.

She said, however,
she would exchange them

for the plans of the Kestrel.

Oh, Tom.

If he were seen
to hand over those plans

to Mrs. Vanderlyn,
he would be ruined anyway.

So it had to look
as if somebody had stolen them.

And although
he tried to persuade us

that he saw this mysterious
figure on the terrace,

it was M. Mayfield himself
who stole those plans.

It was the safest way.

And they were securely
in his pocket

throughout the whole farce
of Mrs. Vanderlyn's arrest.

And you keep saying everything's
going to be all right.

-It will, darling. You --
-Let me pass!

-Let me pass!
-Please, Sir George.

I've had enough of this,

What's going on?

I've been kept totally
in the dark!

No, no, no, no, no, Sir George.

The Germans have got
the missing papers.


And you, M. Carlile, I imagine
you know this as well as anyone.

The German high command now has
plans of our new fighter,

on which they'll have to waste

six months
of concentrated effort

before they realize
they've been sold a pup.

What? Pup?
What's a pup?

A little dog, Sir George.

Little dog?

Oh, pup.

Sold a pup?

The plans were doctored.

The maths doesn't make
any sense.

But it'll take them a lot
of work to find that out.

Good God.

You cunning old devil.


Tommy, darling.

It goes against the grain

letting that Vanderlyn woman
go scot-free.

Ah, she will pay eventually,
mon ami.

For the moment, let her enjoy
what she thinks is her triumph.

If you ask me,
it just shows the dangers

of meeting anonymous women
at the zoo.

In you go, chap.

Well, Lady Margaret
got what she wanted, anyway.

Her and Mayfield
are all lovey-dovey again.

It must be depressing for you

when that sort of thing happens,
eh, Poirot?

What sort of thing?

Oh, everything working out
for the best.

Some married couple
ready for a second honeymoon.

Orphaned children
reunited with their parents.

Yes, it is hard. Mm.

But we must put on it
a brave face, huh?

And not allow cheerfulness
to keep breaking through.

Drive on, Hastings.