Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Murder on the Orient Express (1974)

As a die-hard Agatha Christie fan, I was somewhat apprehensive about watching a film adaptation of one of her most famous novels, but luckily, the film is pretty good.

The film (like most mysteries) features a group of strangers on board the Orient Express, a luxury train traveling through Europe and Asia. When one passenger is murdered during the night, famed detective Hercule Poirot (Albert Finney) must solve the case. Of the suspects, we have a Count (Michael York) and his wife (Jacqueline Bisset), a British Colonel (Sean Connery), an annoying American tourist (Lauren Bacall), a missionary (Ingrid Bergman), a timid secretary (Anthony Perkins), and a Russian princess (Wendy Hiller). As you can see, the cast is pretty star-studded.

The film is a lavish production, with wonderful settings and costumes, with adds to the elegance of the whole film, and the direction by Sidney Lumet is tight and slightly claustrophobic, which it should be.

As for the acting, the cast is universally steller, even if some roles are a bit miscast. Lauren Bacall, I love her to death, but she doesn't really fit the frumpy, irritating character described in the books. She seems more like a cool older lady who you want to hang out with. But luckily, Albert Finney is insanely good as Poirot, completely and totally nailing his odd quirks, the body language, his humor, his slight arrogance, as well as his mental brilliance. It's a wonderful performance that was justified in its Oscar nomination.

Ingrid Bergman actually won an Oscar for her role, which really only consists of one brief minute scene, but she totally owns it, creating a character who is scared, saddened, and slightly coming undone due to her surroundings.

The film takes some liberties with the book (some character's roles are shortened to only a few lines), and the overall mystery is a bit easier to figure out, but the film is a lavish production of one of the greatest mysteries of all-time with a wonderful cast. So what's not to love?

3 comments:

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  2. Another great film! Have you reviewed "Murder By Death"? Hilarious!

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  3. I haven't reviews Murder By Death, but I've seen it before.

    I liked it, but I was a bit disappointed because I've always heard that "If you Like Clue, then you'll love Murder By Death". It was funny, but I much preferred Clue.

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