Although not yet an Oscar winner, Dustin Hoffman was already a superstar by the time he teamed up with director Michael Apted for 1979's "Agatha." It's a rare disappointment for Hoffman's otherwise hot streak at the time. ("Kramer vs. Kramer" came next, so he did just fine.)

Based on the true story of legendary mystery author Agatha Christie's 12-day disappearance that was never explained, "Agatha" offers its own solution. Judging from this dramatization, I'm afraid the incident is best left unresolved. I was left invoking the famous words of Peggy Lee, asking myself, "Is that all there is?"

Hoffman's the reporter who seeks Agatha's whereabouts, and he's a bit miscast "? not because he can't play a journalist (as "All the President's Men" clearly proves otherwise), but because he seems so out of place in this stuffy, rigid society. Not to mention the height difference and romance that sparks once he finds her (Vanessa Redgrave); it's just not very believable.

As with many costume period pieces "? as this essentially is, being set in mid-1920s England "? the film looks splendidly photographed, but for an event with such an air of mystery, the end result feels minor, insignificant and too refined to muster true suspense.

It has its fans, and they only way they can get it legally on disc is as a made-on-demand DVD from Warner Archives. "?Rod Lott

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