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Murder on the Orient Express

Murder on the Orient Express -1974
Sidney Lumet

Paul Dehn  – screenplay

Albert Finney, Lauren Bacall, Sean Connery, Ingrid Bergman, Michael York, Vanessa Redgrave, Richard Widmark, Anthony Perkins, Martin Balsam, Jacqueline Bisset , John Gielgud


Review by John Rouse Merriott Chard

All star cast deliver an Agatha Christie adapted treat.
Murder on the orient Express is directed by Sidney Lumet and adapted to screenplay by Paul Dehn from the novel of the same name written by Agatha Christie. It stars Albert Finney, Lauren Bacall, Sean Connery, Ingrid Bergman, Michael York, Vanessa Redgrave, Richard Widmark, Anthony Perkins, Martin Balsam, Jacqueline Bisset and John Gielgud. Music is by Richard Rodney Bennett and photography by Geoffrey Unsworth.

1935 and the Orient Express is on route from Istanbul to London. On board is legendary Belgian detective Hercule Poirot. He is called into investigative action when a passenger is found brutally stabbed to death, just as the train is ground to a halt due to heavy snow. This will not be easy for it’s a case where any number of the passengers appear to have links to the deceased.

The best of the big screen adaptations of Christie’s Poirot works, “Orient Express” is given a consummate sheen by director Lumet and his all star cast. Finney’s Poirot has a hard edge to him, which is perfectly in keeping with the story that unfolds. From the beginning, which brings a sad and potent piece of news to our viewing experience, right to the Poirot deconstruction of the crime-perpetrator-motive sequence, picture has dark tints framing the array of thespians gathered for the occasion. The setting is gorgeous, but the confines of the period train add credible claustrophobic tension to the plot, and the reveal, while not surprising to the observant, is still a doozy that is given added emotional heft by a neat character development.

Darker than you may expect, but still a bunch of fun to be had playing spot the star and deducing who has done the foul deed. 8/10

Review by Wayne Malin

Good looking, great cast but just OK

In 1930 a baby of the Armstrong family is kidnapped and held for ransom (this is obviously a reference to the Lindberg baby). The ransom is paid, the the baby is killed. Cut to 5 years later. Detective Hercule Poirot (Albert Finney) is traveling to London on the Orient Express. An avalanche stops the train and a passenger (Richard Widmark) is found murdered. Who did it? Poirot has to question the all star cast to find out.

This is a very big budget film. The sets and clothes are beautiful and the all star cast is having fun with their roles. Well-directed by Sidney Lumet too. Still this isn’t that good. The movie is far too slow for its own good and I was getting bored by the end. The plot is (I thought) needlessly convoluted and Poirot’s explanation at the end goes on forever. Also I thought the final revelation who the killer was was more than a little unlikely.

Still it is fun to watch an all star cast play suspects. The acting is pretty good–no one is bad. The standouts in the cast are Lauren Bacall, Albert Finney, Wendy Hiller and Ingrid Bergman (winning an Oscar). This led to “Death on the Nile” (which is much better) and “Evil Under the Sun” (good also but it bombed). So I give it a marginal recommendation for the cast alone.

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