|Leading Role:||Albert Finney, Ingrid Bergman, Lauren Bacall, Martin Balsam, Jacqueline Bisset|
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We have all heard the saying "an all star cast," but usually it amounts at best to 3 or 4 stars. In this movie, the saying is an understatement. There is Albert Finney, Lauren Bacall, Martin Belsam, Ingrid Bergman, Jacqueline Bisset, Sean Connery, John Gielgud, Anthony Perkins, Vanessa Redgrave, Richard Widmark and Michael York.
There is so much talent assembled for this movie, it must have been fun for these professionals just to show up for work on the set. And, they work wonderfully together. The director, Sidney Lumet, did a wonderful job in getting the most out of each actor in this movie.
Albert Finney plays the Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, who happens to be on "The Orient Express," a luxury passenger train, when a murder takes place. The year is 1935. Not only is this a wonderful who-done-it, the acting by the various stars is delightful. There are many individual scenes between the various characters that are intriguing in themselves. Finney is terrific in his portrait of the detective with all his idiosyncracies.
There is a murder of a rich American businessman, played by Richard Widmark. Poirot agrees to try to solve the crime prior to the Yugoslavian police get there. He undertakes the opportunity, and starts to interview the various passengers, some which are reluctant to reveal information, for personal reasons.His diligence in obtaining and understanding the clues is the core of the story. There are, or course, many people that he investigates that appear to have both a motive and an opportunity for the crime. Ingrid Bergman won an Oscar as Best Supporting Actor for her role in this movie.
Believe me when I tell you this is one of the very best mysteries ever made. No exaggeration! This has excellent acting, direction and plot. You really don't know the conclusion until the very end. And what an ending.
An exellent Who-done-it.
Agatha Christie's master sleuth, Hercule Poirot (Albert Finney), books passage on the famed Orient Express (train); then, becomes deeply involved as the central character (as usual) of a murder investigation. This time Poirot agrees to interview all aboard the famous train's Calais coach.
This, of all of Agatha Christie's well known 'whodunits', includes one of the most star-studded casts playing Christie's most eccentric characters. Imagine Ingrid Bergman playing a plain-Jane, Bible-thumping, Swedish missionary. The AFI found her performance so remarkable that Bergman was awarded her third Oscar for her portrayal of Greta Ohlsson. The cast includes (in alphabetical order):
Albert Finney as Hercule Poirot
Lauren Bacall as Mrs. Hubbard
Martin Balsam as Bianchi
Ingrid Bergman as Greta Ohlsson
Jacqueline Bisset as Countess Andrenyi
Jean-Pierre Cassel as Himself
Sean Connery as Colonel Arbuthnot
Sir John Gielgud as Beddoes
Wendy Hiller as Princess Dragomiroff
Anthony Perkins as McQueen
Denis Quilley as Foscarelli
Vanessa Redgrave as Mary Debenham
Richard Widmark as Ratchett
Michael York as Count Andrenyi
Typical of Christie's writing, it's tight, crisp & comically scathing:
Col. Arbuthnott (Connery): "He was interested in the future of India. A bit impractical: he thought the British ought to move out!"
Poirot (Finney): "Forgive me, Miss Debenham, I must be brief. You met Col. Arbuthnott & fell in love with each other in Baghdad. Why must the English conceal even their most impeccable emotions?
Mary Debenham (Redgrave): To answer your observations in order: of course, yes, yes & I don't know."
Bianchi (Balsam): "You mean you saw the man? You can identify the murderer?"
Mrs. Hubbard (Bacall): "I mean nothing of the kind. I mean there was a man in my compartment last night. It was pitch dark, of course & my eyes were closed in terror..."
Bianchi: "Then how did you know it was a man?"
Mrs. Hubbard: "Because I've enjoyed very warm relationships with both my husbands."
Bianchi: "With your eyes closed."
Mrs. Hubbard: "That helped."
Beddoes (Gielgud): "Oh, yes, sir, the Italian gentleman."
Poirot (Finney): "Eh, does he speak English?"
Beddoes: "A kind of English, sir. I think he learnt it in a place called Chicago."
Bianchi (Balsam): "Forgive me, ladies & gentlemen."
Greta Ohlsson (Bergman): "Only God's forgiveness is important."
Foscarelli (Quilley): "Hey, what are you reading, Mr. Beddoes?"
Beddoes (Gielgud): "I am reading 'Love's Captive', by Mrs. Arabella Richardson."
Foscarelli: "Is it about sex?"
Beddoes: "No, it's about 10:30, Mr. Foscarelli."
Those sound bytes are Christie's way of tongue-in-cheek winking at us, knowingly. Her murder mystery goes like this:
A notorious murderer, Mr. Ratchett (Widmark), is murdered in his cabin with 12 stab wounds. It's up to Poirot to question the Calais coach passengers. As he interrogates, Poirot discovers that each has a personal connection to the 1930's Daisy Armstrong kidnapping & murder. It happened in the US 5 years earlier.
Assisted by his trusted friend, Signior Bianchi (Balsam), Poirot develops a unique theory that he divulges to the 12 remaining international passengers who've been questioned.
The original release 1974 double VHS is definitely a collector's item when in mint condition. This 2009 DVD has special features, however~
This whodunit story by Dame Agatha is excellent. She has always been my favorite writer of detective fiction. I keep returning to the film version, however, not because of the story but because of the film's sheer elegance and style. It is awash in elegance ... the majestic cinematography; the glamorous clothes; the delightfully eccentric aristocratic characters; the mysterious yet refined musical score. The film is so theatrically regal I'm surprised that it did not feature a representative of British royalty.
The setting is Europe in the 1930's. The pace is slow and relaxed. And while the dialogue is in English, the film has a deliciously international flavor, with a mix of interesting accents and word pronunciations. Heavy on dialogue, the film never seems overly talky, the result of a clever screenplay and lush visuals. Humor is included in the script usually in the form of tasteful put-downs. Example: an attractive Mrs. Hubbard comments: "Don't you agree the man must have entered my compartment to gain access to Mr. Ratchett?" The aging Princess Dragomiroff responds in a deadpan tone: "I can think of no other reason, madam."
In his portrayal of Hercule Poirot, Albert Finney almost literally disappears into the role, a tribute to convincing makeup and to Finney's adroit acting. His performance is appropriately idiosyncratic, deliciously hammy, and theatrical, every bit as entertaining in this film as Peter Ustinov is in subsequent Christie movies. The rest of the cast has ensemble parts, my favorite being Wendy Hiller whose Princess Dragomiroff comes across as royal, proud, and very eccentric.
With its snowy landscapes, ornate and cozy interiors, and subdued lighting, "Murder On The Orient Express" is an excellent movie to watch on a cold, winter night, snuggled under a blanket or next to a warm fireplace with a cup of cappuccino or a glass of cognac. Just be sure that all knives and daggers in your mansion are out of reach from your staff of servants.
This retelling of Agatha Christies famous novel is elegant, stylish fun. It has an all-star cast. Ingrid Bergman won an Oscar for her performance. Lauren Bacall was perfect in her role. Albert Finney as Poirot is stunning. This movie recaptures a bygone time and tells a fabulous tale all at the same time. Be sure to get the edition with the interviews and production information. Highly recommended. Great escapist entertainment.
In this academy award winning movie with Ingrad Bergman and Vanessa Redgrave, a detective is set out to resolve a stabbing. A must have for the mystery collector or Agatha Christie collector as this is loaded with mystery and drama.