You can download series script as text or as subtitles:

Agatha Christie's Poirot (1989–2013): Season 5, Episode 2 - The Underdog - full transcript

Poirot investigates when the cruel CEO of a chemical company is bludgeoned to death in his home after the company's formula for a revolutionary new synthetic rubber is targeted by a thief.

- "My dear Horace,
we were all disappointed

"not to see you
at our conference in Berlin.

"England is in danger
of becoming isolated, you know.

"Many interesting developments
were discussed,

"in particular,

"Sir Rueben Astwell's
new Astoprene compound.

"It's rumored that Farben's
over here

"will manufacture it
under license,

but then, you know what gossips
scientists can be."

- You.

Help me.

- Oh, you're not trying,
Mr. Poirot.

- Miss Lemon, I am aware
that you are fully qualified

in the practice
of the hypnotics,

and I do not dismiss that,

but, you know, with a person
whose character is so forceful

and whose intellect
is so powerful...

- But think how useful it'd be
to you in your investigations.

- Very well,
if it will please you, proceed.

- Relax.


Your eyes are feeling heavy.

You are going to sleep.

- What on Earth's going on?

Please, Captain Hastings.

- Oh, sorry.

I just wanted to know

what time he wanted to leave
in the morning

for the Captain's Plate
at Abbot's Cross.

- Mr. Poirot didn't tell me
about that.

- I did tell you, Miss Lemon.

You simply forgot to enter it.

- Mr. Poirot, I am trying
to be helpful.

- Miss Lemon,
I am very grateful to you,

but really, I have no need
of the hypnotics.

I prefer to use
my little gray cells.

Hastings, thank you for coming.

I thought we might make
an early start in the morning.

- What's this Captain's Plate?

- Well, it's a golf trophy,
of course, two-day event.

A friend of mine,
Charles Leverson,

has invited me to partner him.

- Surely you're far too busy

to attend golf matches,
Mr. Poirot.

- Yes, I am, Miss Lemon,

but there is another invitation
I could not resist.

The uncle of Monsieur Leverson
is Sir Rueben Astwell,

and we have been invited
to dine with him.

He has the finest collection

of Belgian miniature bronzes
in Europe.

And Belgian miniature bronzes,

they are the finest
in the world.

- Why is that?

- Because they are the largest.

Truly, Sir Rueben Astwell
must be a man of exquisite taste

and sensitivity.

- I want that letter
off to I.G. Farben today.

- I've been thinking, Rueben,

I'm not sure we're doing
the right thing.

- I'll do any thinking
that's necessary.

- As your partner,
I'm entitled to my opinion.

- As my junior partner,

you're entitled
to do what I say.

Victor, don't think
you can take liberties

just because you're my brother.

Well, this is a right mess,
isn't it?

- I'm afraid so--

- Don't tell me
it was an accident.

More like damn carelessness.

- No, sir.

It wasn't an accident.

- Are you sure it was him?

- There's no question,
Sir Rueben.

I saw his face quite clearly.

- Then we know what he
was after.

- Yes, I've put it
in your brother's office.

- I think this will be safer
with me.

- Monsieur Poirot?

You're in room 12.

Mr. Hastings, room 13.

- Thank you.
- Merci beaucoup.

Thank you, sir.

- Well, I'd have to say

we've got some pretty stiff
competition, Charles.

- Don't worry, old boy.

I've been putting in
hours of practice,

and I know these greens
like the back of my hand.

- Such dedication.

- Do you play, Mr. Poirot?

- Rarely, Monsieur Leverson.

I must confess,
I owe my presence here

more to art than to sport.

- Charles.
- Ah.

- Here I am.
Good luck.

- Thanks, Lily.

Miss Lily Margrave,
my aunt's companion.

Let me introduce my partner,
Captain Hastings.

- How do you do, Miss Margrave?

- How do you do?

- And this is
Mr. Hercule Poirot.

- Enchant, mademoiselle.

- How do you do, Mr. Poirot?

When Charles told me
you were coming to dinner,

I was so excited.

- Ah.

- Did the fire cause
much damage, then?

- Nothing that can't be

I've got Trefusis coming down
this weekend

to discuss what needs
to be done.

He's staying for dinner.

- We've already got
dinner guests.

- Well, that's
damned inconvenient.

- I did tell you.

They're friends of Charles'.

- Charles takes too much
for granted.

- Oh, very.

- Excuse me, sir.

Sir Rueben would like
a word with you.

- Ugh.
- He's in the billiard room.

- Thank you, Parsons.


- You wanted to see me, Uncle?

- Yes, and you know what about.

You've had all week
to think it over.

- Well, I did think it over,

but, well, I mean,
working for the firm,

it's not really my cup of tea,
is it?

- Oh, no, and what exactly
is your cup of tea?

- Well, actually,
I had some idea

of becoming a golf professional.

- Playing golf?

That's your idea of a job?

- Well, I hadn't really
thought it through.

I mean, earlier on today, I--

- Last year, you wanted
to become a photographer.

- Well, if you'd loaned me
the money in the first place--

- You have had all the money
you're going to get.

- Lady Astwell thought she might
have left her reading glasses

on your desk.

- Did she?

- Well, she must have made
a mistake.

- She's not the only one
who's mistaken, Miss Margrave.

And this isn't the first time
I've caught you in here

messing around with my papers.

- I don't know
what you're talking about.

- No?

- Please let go of my arm.

- I want you out of this house
first thing on Monday morning.

Your services
are no longer required.

- Lily.

Over here.

I found it.

- Where?

- It's in his study.

- War, Poirot.

That's what I said,
and war is what I mean.

And it's coming soon,
you mark my words.

- With anyone in particular,
Sir Rueben?

- Germany, of course.

They're rearming.

They've remilitarized
the Rhineland.

They'll be all over Europe
before you know it.

Probably start with your place,
um, Belgium.

Shouldn't take them long.

- You will forgive me,
Sir Rueben,

if I do not view the prospect
with such sangfroid.

I myself have experienced it

the horror and destruction
of war with Germany.

- Well, I'm not saying that war
is a nice business.

But business it is.

- War and chemicals
go hand in glove.

- There are more important
things than business.

- Business will not be
the only beneficiary.

Think of the great strides
that science will make:

new fuels, new alloys--

- And it'll do wonders
for the economy.

Do you know how many unemployed
we have today?

More than a million.

More than a million
scrounging on the dole.

- War seems
a pretty drastic solution.

- I think I agree with Victor.

- As well you would, Nancy.

Never could face facts.

Always the great actress.

- Could we talk about something
a little more pleasant?

- Exquisite.


Oh, mon dieu.

Hastings, this is undoubtedly
the work of Auguste Clouet.

And Auguste Clouet,

he is one of the finest
craftsmen in Lige.

- Fascinating.

- Oh, magnifique.

C'est incroyable.
A Tindemann?

A genuine Jules Tindemann?

The whole collection,
it is magnificent.

- Is it?

I got it at a knockdown price.

I'm hoping to sell it
for a profit.

- But how can you bear
the sacrifice?

- Sacrifice?

Oh, as far as I'm concerned,

whoever buys them
can melt them down for scrap.

- Never, Hastings.

Never have I met a man
so obnoxious,

and I swear,
that wine he to gave us,

he manufactured
in his chemical factory.

Not the most pleasant evening,
I'll agree.

Sorry about the bronzes.

- That such a philistine
should have them in his custody,

it is an offense against art
and justice.

- I say...

I thought I'd walk you back
to your hotel.

I could do with a spot
of fresh air.

- Oh, right.

- Yes, I think I should
retire now.

Thank you for a most enjoyable
evening, Lady Astwell.

- Good night, Mr. Trefusis.

That'll be all, Parsons.

- Very good, your ladyship.

- Tell me, Monsieur Leverson,

in order to deserve
a knighthood,

your uncle must have rendered
some service most special,

n'est-ce pas?

- Bought and paid for,
like everything else.

The man's a monster, a bully,
and a liar.

A liar, Mr. Poirot.

- I'm surprised at Lady Astwell
putting up with it.

- Well, I'm not going to work
in his blasted factory.

I'll show him.

- I don't want to hear any more

of this sentimental,
patriotic claptrap.

We're in business to make money,

and the Germans are willing
to pay it.

- No, what we are selling them

will be used
for military purposes.

- Victor.

- He's insufferable.

- About Lily.

- I've told you, Nancy,
she's going,

and that's
all there is to it.

- Don't I have any say
in the matter?

- Hired help are ten a penny.

You can get another one.

- Oh.

I've just about had as much
as I'm going to take.

My God.

No harm done.

Good night.

- Nothing at all.

Stay in the grass.

Mind yourselves.

Stay in the grass.
Let's go.

- Quick blow to the head
saw him off, I'd say.

There's the murder weapon.

- If I might ask, sir,

in what condition
was Mr. Leverson

when he left you last night?

- In a state of the most
regrettable inebriations.

Why do you ask?

- Well, it sounds as though

he was the last one
to see his uncle alive.

Parsons, the butler,
heard Mr. Leverson

having an argument
with his uncle.

Couldn't hear exactly
what they were saying.

- You have, of course,

questioned Monsieur Leverson

- I did, sir.

He admitted that they'd had
a quarrel.

But he says they patched it up.

- Well, suppose I can say
good-bye to the golf tournament.

- It would be indecent
to do otherwise.

- Oh, excuse me, sir.

I'll do your room.

- If you please,
Monsieur Astwell,

at what time did you leave the
study of Sir Rueben last night?

- About 11:15.

We'd been discussing
some business matters.

- Excuse me, your ladyship.

Mr. Leverson's bedroom door
appears to be locked.

He's run for it.

He can't have gone far.

Right, in the cars.


- Come on, then.

This way.

- All right, grab him.

- Got him, Sergeant.

- Come on, be sensible.

- Chin up, Nancy.

If he did it in a sudden temper,

it would be treated
as manslaughter.

- But he didn't do it, Victor.

- Oh, excuse me.

- You don't believe it either,
do you, Mr. Poirot?

- Believe what, Lady Astwell?

- That Charles murdered
my husband.

- Well...
- No, I know.

I know all the facts
are against him,

but I tell you, Mr. Poirot,
I tell you he's innocent.

- And the reason for your
certainty, Lady Astwell?

- Intuition.

- Ah, yes, the female intuition,

Lady Astwell,
if you'd be so kind,

the will of your husband
and his estate,

to whom was it left?

- Uh, half to me,
half to Victor.

- And Monsieur Leverson?

- Well, his mother,
Rueben's sister,

knew that he was
a bit scatterbrained,

so she left her estate
in Rueben's hands

on condition
that he made Charles

a reasonable allowance.

It was almost
a deathbed promise.

- Which he kept?

- Until yesterday...

Well, my husband threatened to
cut Charles off without a penny

unless he took a job
with the firm.

- I see.

Tell me, Lady Astwell,
last night,

you came to the study
to see your husband.

About what?

- Oh, oh, that was just
some domestic matter.

- You had a quarrel.

- He was making the most
absurd allegations against Lily,

accusing her of interfering
with his private papers,


Lily's a dear girl.

I regard her as I would
a favorite niece.

Charles is very fond of her.

You know she came
with excellent references.

- Might I see these references?

- Is that really necessary?

- Just to satisfy my curiosity.

- I've come to see Mr. Naylor.

- Mr. Naylor appears to be out
at the moment, miss.

I don't know when he'll be back.

Can I take a message?

- Oh, well.

Please give him this
when he returns.

He's expecting it.

- Certainly, miss.

- I don't know what things
are coming to, Gladys.

Policemen and detectives
all over the place.

Expect it will be the press

- Oh, well, do you think

I'll get my picture
in the paper, Mr. Parsons?

- Monsieur Parsons,
a word with you, if I may?

- Certainly, sir.

- Excuse me.

Monsieur Parsons,

I understand that last night
you heard Monsieur Leverson

having the arguments
with Sir Rueben.

- Yes, sir, I heard him cry out.

Then there was a heavy thud.

Mr. Leverson shouted, "My God."

- Did you try to ascertain
the reason for this disturbance?

- I did, sir.

I went out of my room

and listened at the foot
of the back stairs.

I heard Mr. Leverson call out,
"No harm done,"

and then he went off, whistling,
as cheery as you like, sir.

- Ow!

- What have you done now, girl?

- Cut myself.

There's a bit of metal
sticking out of the table.

- Allow me, mademoiselle.


Monsieur Parsons,

have you noticed if any
of your cutlery, it is damaged?

- As it happens,

one of the knives
is missing its point, sir.

- Hm, I think
you will find it here,

embedded in the table.

- Oh, thank you, sir.
I'll see to it.

And you get a bandage
around that, Gladys.

- Yes, Mr. Parsons.

I'll wash your handkerchief
for you, sir.

- No, no, no, no,
Mademoiselle Gladys, thank you.

There is no need.
You are most kind.

- Oh.

- Your business discussion
last night

with Sir Rueben, your brother,
it was friendly?

- Why should it have been

- Because I detected
at the dinner table

a certain tension.

- Yes, well, we did have
a disagreement.

- A quarrel?

- I wouldn't call it that.

A heated argument.

It was over this.

We have developed
a synthetic rubber, Astoprene.

Remarkable stuff, made from oil.

Amazing properties.

Strong as mild steel.

High abrasion factor.

Ideal for motor tires.

Rueben intended to license
its manufacture to I.G. Farben.

You've heard of them?

- Yes, of course.

They are the largest chemical
manufacturers in Germany.

Do you have the objections?

- It's all academic now.

I'm canceling the transaction.

- I will be with you in just
a moment, Monsieur Poirot.

- Please, Monsieur Trefusis,
do not hurry yourself.

We both know how important it is

to weigh things most carefully,

- I am at your disposal.

- Merci.

I am trying to establish
where everyone was

at the time of the murder
of Sir Rueben.

- I was sound asleep in bed.

I retired
shortly after you left.

- And you departed
early in the morning?

- Yes, before breakfast.

- Last night, you talked
at dinner

about the scientific
developments in Germany.

- Did I?

- You are fluent
in the language?

- Well, I should be.

I worked and studied in Germany
for a number of years.

- You have there
a number of friends?

- Oh, I keep in touch
with colleagues.

Well, if you have no further
questions, Monsieur Poirot...

- Thank you, Monsieur Trefusis.

I am very sorry
to have disturbed you.

A vintage year, you would say?

- This is the parcel you've been
waiting for, sir.

- Thank you.
I've enjoyed my stay.

My car is just outside.

- "Exhibition Road, London."

- So you say
this Monsieur Naylor

took the parcel with him
when he left the hotel?

- Yes.

- Thank you, Hastings.

- Is that blood, Poirot?

- Yes, Hastings,
but it is not mine.

Gladys, the maid,
she cut her finger

when she found the tip
of a knife

embedded in the table where
Victor Astwell, he was seated.

- You don't suspect him, do you?

- It is by no means certain

that your friend Charles
is the murderer, Hastings.

Indeed, Lady Astwell is deeply
convinced that he is not.

- I've never known you

to place much faith
in intuition.

- Intuition, Hastings,
often describes some fact

that is so deeply buried
in the subconscious

that the subject is not aware
of its existence.

- What fact?

Et bien, Hastings.

If I knew that, the case,
it would be solved.

- Lily Margrave's references.

Lady Astwell sent them
by special delivery.

- Thank you, Miss Lemon.

It is indeed most fulsome
in its presence.

Exactement, that is the crest

of the Noble Duchess
of Perthshire.

How interesting.

- Tell the truth, Charles.

What have you got to lose?

- Oh.

When I arrived back
from the golf club,

I went up to his study.

I was in a bit of a temper,

and I wanted to have it out
with the old devil.

I went into his study,
and he was sitting at his desk.

Well, at least
that's how it looked.

I've just about had as much
as I'm going to take of you,

you swine.

Do you hear?

Oh, don't like it when someone
stands up to you, do you?

...When someone stands up
to you, do you?

Nothing to say?


Oh, God.

- So when you found him,

Monsieur Astwell was, in fact,
already dead.

- But why on Earth
did you make a run for it?

- Well, when the maid
saw the blood, I...

I just panicked.

You see, I knew you wouldn't
believe me.

I mean, who would?

- Poirot might.

- You do realize

I can't guarantee any results,
Mr. Poirot.

- I have the most complete faith
in you, Miss Lemon.

- You are sleepy.

Very sleepy.

- Your eyelids are heavy.

They are closing...closing...

- This really is quite absurd.

- Relax.

You are going to sleep.

- Lady Astwell,
you are now asleep.

You can hear me,
and you can answer my questions.

- I can hear you.

I can answer your questions.

- It is the night of the murder.

You are seated
at the dining table.

Describe to me what you saw
and what you felt.

- I...

I'm in great distress,

worried about Lily.

Victor's looking at Rueben
in an angry way.

- Tell me about Victor.

- Such a dear man.

We love each other very much.

- It is later in the evening.

- We're in business
to make money.

- You go to the study.

Is Victor there?

- No, he's just coming out.

He looks pale and angry.

- He's insufferable.

- You enter the study.

You have a terrible scene
with your husband.

- ...Is going, and that's all
there is to it.

- Don't I have any say
in the matter?

- Paid companions
are ten a penny.

You can get another one.

- Very soon,
he will be murdered.

Do you know who murdered
your husband, Lady Astwell?

- It wasn't Charles.

- How do you know?

- Because of the curtain.

Don't I have any say
in the matter?

- Paid companions
are ten a penny.

- Curtain?
What about the curtain?

The shape.

- Shape?

- The...

- Is there someone
behind the curtain?

Who is behind the curtain,
Lady Astwell?

- Really, Mr. Poirot,
this has gone on long enough.

- S'il vous plat, mademoiselle.

- She's in distress.
Can't you see that?

- Lady Astwell, the curtain.

Is there someone
behind the curtain?

- Oh.

- Oh, it's too late.
She's coming out of it.

- Have I been having a nap?

- That's it, just a little nap.

- Did I...

Did I say anything?

- Not as much
as I could have wished.

On the evening of the tragedy,

I understand that you had
retired to bed

before Lady Astwell
went to the study,

is that not so?

- Yes.

- Did you, by any chance,
leave your room again?

- No.

- Did you go into the study
at any time during the evening?

- No, not at any time.

- How curious.

- In what way, Mr. Poirot?

- As I recall, that evening

you wore a dress
of green chiffon.

Such a pity it has been torn.

Where did you find that?

- Did you go into the study
again after dinner?

- No.

I may have.

Yes, I remember now.

I was in the study
the previous evening,

and I was wearing
the same dress.

- Ah, the same dress.

- Hmm.
- Ah.

How sad that you appear
to have spilled onto it

some of Sir Rueben's
most excellent wine.

Or is it blood?

- She's making a run for it,

- It must have something to do
with that parcel.

- I think I know
where she's going.

Exhibition Road.
She'll catch the 1:15.

- You are sure of the timetable,

- Absolutely positive.

- Bon, then we have
just the time.

But you must drive
like the winds.

- I'm depending on you
to navigate.

- When's the next train
to London?

- Exhibition Road, please.

- Where is this Exhibition Road,

- It should be up here
on the right.

It's full of museums
and colleges.

- But for us,
only one that matters.

Vite, Hastings.

A hurried departure,
Mademoiselle Margrave?

If that is indeed your name.

- My real name is Lily Naylor.

Humphrey's my brother.

- And you, Monsieur Naylor,

are a research fellow
here at the Imperial College?

- Yes, in polymer chemistry.

The molecular forms
of repeating units--

- We are talking
about synthetic rubber.

- In this instance, yes.

I made a breakthrough
with one compound.

It wasn't perfect,
but it was nearly there.

The trouble was that it needed
commercial investment

to develop its potential.

So I approached
Astwell Chemicals.

At first, they showed
some interest in my work.

Then, after a while,

Sir Rueben told me that they had
lost interest entirely.

- Sorry, Naylor, we're not
prepared to go that far.

- I believed them at first.

Then my suspicions
became aroused

by odd little reports
in scientific journals.

They wouldn't have meant much
to anyone

who wasn't expert
in the subject.

Hello, George?

Yes, have you seen
the current issue...

I made certain inquiries
and became convinced

that Astwell's were using
my basic research.

He was swindling me.

But...I had no proof.

- And you, Mademoiselle...

and your references?

They are genuine?

- Oh, yes, completely so.

I was employed
by the Duchess of Perthshire.

The Astwells would have
recognized the name Naylor,

and so I changed my name
on the references.

- And by this subterfuge,

you were able to obtain
the Astoprene file.

Monsieur Astwell,

would you be so kind as to tell
us about Monsieur Naylor?

I understand
you and your brother

stole his research.

- I tried to argue with Rueben,

but he said that Naylor's work
was unproven.

Our labs took over
the whole thing.

- Well, I agree there were some
problems still to be solved--

- Let us, if you please,

go back to the night
of the murder of Sir Rueben.

Lady Astwell,

when you were in the trance
of the hypnotics,

you said that you saw something
behind the curtain.

- Not--not the window curtains.

It was that curtain.

Oh, my God.

- Calm yourself, madame.

Captain Hastings.

Thank you.

Perhaps you can tell us who was
hiding behind the curtain,

Monsieur Naylor?

- It wasn't me.

I told you,

after I'd met Lily
in the garden,

I went back to my hotel.

- But there was indeed
an intruder.

And on first entering the study,

this intruder had no thought
of murder.

It was solely for the purpose
of making the search.

But suddenly...

- All I'm saying...

- There was the sound
of approaching voices

and footsteps.

And there was to be found
only one place to hide,

the small bedroom
attached to the study

that Monsieur Astwell uses
when he works late at night.

- I don't want to hear any more
of this sentimental...

- Monsieur Victor Astwell and
Sir Rueben enter the study.

They do not see anybody
hiding behind the curtain,

and the two men quarrel

- What we are selling them will
be used for military purposes.

- Victor.

- Monsieur Victor Astwell
leaves in anger.

But for our intruder,
there's no way to escape.

What a dilemma.

If Sir Rueben decides to spend
the night in the little bedroom,

discovery must surely follow.

Lady Astwell enters the study

to protest at the dismissal
of Mademoiselle Naylor.

- That's all there is to it.

- Well, don't I have any say--

- Paid companions
are ten a penny.

You can get another one.

- When Lady Astwell leaves,
Sir Rueben, he is alone.

Now is the only moment

for our intruder to escape
without detection.

But Sir Rueben hears a noise.

- What the...

- Et voil.

- An act of impulse
followed by blind panic.

Now our intruder must escape.

But it is not to be.

Is there no way out
of this accursed room?

Monsieur Charles Leverson
enters the study.

- ...When someone
stands up to you, do you?

Nothing to say?

- And on seeing that Sir Rueben
is dead, he leaves.

Then Mademoiselle Naylor
enters the study,

and finding the body
of Sir Rueben,

seizes her opportunity

to take a file that is
so important to her brother.

- Lily's told you what happened.

He was trying to cheat me.

But she didn't murder him.

- Mesdames et messieurs,

I am a student
of the psychology,

and throughout this case,

I have been looking
not for a man or woman

who has the bad temper,

because the bad temper is,
in itself, a safety valve.

No, I have been looking
for a person

who has the patience,

who has for too long played
the part of the underdog,

who crept into the study
of Sir Rueben,

who hid behind the curtain,

who became trapped

and finally committed
the act of violence

that had been harbored
for so long.

It was you who was hiding
behind the curtain.

It was you who murdered
Sir Rueben Astwell,

Monsieur Trefusis.

You waited until the house
was silent and empty.

You then crept back
to your bedroom,

leaving a dead man on the floor.

- This is absolute nonsense.

Why should I want to kill him?

- In the Astoprene file,

I noticed a contract that bears
your signature.

It would appear
that you were instrumental

in the development
of the invention

by Monsieur Naylor.

You were to become
a very rich man,

if it was produced
by the Astwell Company.

But if the process
was to be licensed elsewhere,

as it was told to you
by your German colleagues,

of what value then would be
your contract?

- Of no value at all.

- He was a bully, a liar,
and a swindler.

- I think there will be
few people who would disagree

with your analysis
of the character of Sir Rueben.

So tell me, Mademoiselle Naylor,

your brother, he is happy
with the terms offered

by Monsieur Victor Astwell?

- Well, they really are
quite generous.

- Shh-shh-shh.

- Captain Hastings?

A hole in one, Captain Hastings.

A hole in one.

- Miss Lemon, Captain Hastings

possesses far too much
of the intellectual strength--

- Quite right, Poirot.

I say.