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How we made the original Murder on the Orient Express

‘I don’t think the cast of the new film have the same horsepower we had’

It was difficult to persuade Agatha Christie to sign over the rights. She’d hated the film version of The ABC Murders. But she trusted us. Sidney Lumet was directing, even though his agent didn’t want him to. She called it “the dumb train movie”. She wanted him to work in Los Angeles, but he didn’t like it there.

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Murder On The Orient Express – Review

Judi Dench, left, and Olivia Colman star in Twentieth Century Fox’s “Murder on the Orient Express.” Photo Credit: Nicola Dove; Tm & © 2017 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved. Not for sale or duplication.

Murder On The Orient Express, Kenneth Branagh’s new film adaptation of the classic Agatha Christie mystery, offers a certain amount of lavish period style and mystery fun but does not measure up to the 1974 version, directed by Sidney Lumet and featuring an all-star cast. Branagh’s film also has a star-packed cast and Branagh, who plays detective Hercule Poirot as well as directs, sports an astonishing two-stage mustache that might be worth the ticket price alone.

Based on the famous Agatha Christie mystery featuring her Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot, the 1974 film version had an all-star cast with Albert Finney, Lauren Bacall, Martin Balsam,

Ingrid Bergman, Jacqueline Bisset, Sean Connery, John Gielgud, Wendy Hiller, Anthony Perkins,
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Multiple ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ Adaptations Have Failed to Crack Christie’s Novel

Those who still get themselves into a mild tizzy over Dame Judi Dench’s Oscar win for a minor role in a less-than-minor movie have clearly never heard of Ingrid Bergman’s win for 1974’s Murder on the Orient Express movie. In Sidney Lumet’s envisioning of Agatha Christie’s classic whodunit, Bergman takes on the role of Greta Ohlsson, a German Christian missionary who teaches “little brown babies” in poverty-stricken nations and whom has a secret connection to the titular crime. Her screen time might be even less than Dench and her character has far …
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‘Murder On The Orient Express’ Is A Joyless Ride [Review]

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Now seems like a good time for a new take on “Murder on the Orient Express.” Sidney Lumet had memorably adapted the Agatha Christie novel (originally published in 1934) back in 1974 (Ingrid Bergman won an Oscar for her role in the film) but a more modern take on both the story’s classic whodunit mechanics and its cast of racially diverse characters could have been an absolute treat.

Continue reading ‘Murder On The Orient Express’ Is A Joyless Ride [Review] at The Playlist.
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Canon Of Film: ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ (1974)

In this week’s edition of Canon Of Film, we take a look Sidney Lumet‘s hypnotic ‘Murder on the Orient Express‘ just in time for the release of Kenneth Branagh‘s remake of the same name. For the story behind the genesis of the Canon, you can click here.

Murder On The Orient Express (1974)

Director: Sidney Lumet

Screenplay: Paul Dehn based on the novel by Agatha Christie (uncredited)

Strangely, the detective story is actually a fairly newer genre when compared to others, in terms of literary history, it is, and the inventor of the genre is not who you’d think it’d be either, it was Edgar Allen Poe, with his trilogy of C. Auguste Dupin stories, ‘The Murder of the Rue Morgue‘, ‘The Mystery of Marie Roget,’ and my favorite, ‘The Purloined Letter‘ back in the 1840s. I’m not sure why this genre didn’t pick up until then,
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Murder On The Orient Express Review

Kenneth Branagh’s Murder On The Orient Express – 2017’s take on Agatha Christie’s 1934 dead-body caper – reminds of a cinematic time capsule that was dug up and never dusted off. It’s not the first, nor even fourth time Christie’s words would be uttered by actors aboard their high-class locomotive prison. Sidney Lumet’s 1974 classic shines with old-Hollywood prestige, Alfred Molina stars in a 2001 modern-day take, Japan televised a 2015 miniseries event overseas – so how would Branagh differentiate? Apparently by staying devout to Christie’s 1930s aesthetic, conception and tone. A relic whose connotation translates to “Back in my day!,” rolling slowly down the tracks for an almost two-hour whodunit that runs out of steam far before reaching desired conclusions.

Branagh stands-in as star detective Hercule Poirot, an investigator whose reputation is outshined only by his feral-animal-lookin’ mustache. In Istanbul, with the help of philandering companion Bouc (Tom Bateman), Poirot
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'Murder on the Orient Express' Review: Whodunnit Redo Is Fast Train to Nowhere

'Murder on the Orient Express' Review: Whodunnit Redo Is Fast Train to Nowhere
Kenneth Branagh is a theater man at heart. So his spanking new version of the 1934 Dame Agatha Christie chestnut Murder on the Orient Express – Branagh directs and stars as world-famous Belgian detective Hercule Poirot – feels more like an all-star, theatrically confined stage piece than something freshly reimagined for the screen. Its delights, including dazzling production design and period costumers, are decidedly retro, as is the plot: A man is murdered on the Orient Express. Poirot must interrogates a dozen strangers on the train, each a suspect in the bloody homicide.
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‘Murder On The Orient Express’ Review: An All-Star Cast Outshined By The Scenery In Visually Sumptuous Agatha Christie Remake

  • Deadline
‘Murder On The Orient Express’ Review: An All-Star Cast Outshined By The Scenery In Visually Sumptuous Agatha Christie Remake
Perhaps it says something about a movie featuring the likes of Johnny Depp, Judi Dench, Penelope Cruz, Michelle Pfeiffer and others that I came out of it talking about the cinematography and production design. In my case, the reason might have something to do with the fact that having seen and remembered Sidney Lumet’s equally star-driven 1974 film of Agatha Christie’s best-known mystery novel, I already knew whodunit. Getting wrapped up story-wise in a murder mystery in…
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Murder on the Orient Express movie review: strangers on a train

MaryAnn’s quick take… Doubly dated, lacking in humor and subtext, its impressive cast deliberately underutilized, this is little more than an exercise in gorgeous production design. I’m “biast” (pro): love the cast

I’m “biast” (con): saw no need for another production

I can’t recall if I’ve read the source material (I might have as a teenager in my classic-mystery phase, but if so, clearly it didn’t stick)

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

Here’s the biggest mystery of director and star Kenneth Branagh’s opulent period mounting of the 1934 Agatha Christie novel: Why? Who was clamoring for yet another retelling of a story that has been told onscreen — both the big and small screens — several times already, and as recently as 2010 in the beloved television series starring David Suchet as Hercule Poirot? Why bother to tell this story
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Richard Linklater on ‘Last Flag Flying,’ Confidence, and the Film That Launched His Career

Richard Linklater on ‘Last Flag Flying,’ Confidence, and the Film That Launched His Career
Richard Linklater has returned to his roots — specifically, his hometown of Houston, just a week or so before that World Series thing — to conduct a series of interviews for his latest film, “Last Flag Flying.” But he’s easily distracted by twinges of nostalgia as he settles in at the Hotel ZaZa for a late-afternoon chat.

Back when he was in his early 20s and working on offshore oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, Linklater would spend much of his downtime in H-Town educating himself in movie history by attending screenings just across the street, at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Or at the nearby Rice University Media Center. Or at art houses like the River Oaks Theatre — back when it screened repertory double bills — and the long-shuttered Greenway 3. He has spent most of his life and career in and around Austin, where he shot his breakthrough indie feature, “Slacker,” in 1989. But
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Murder on the Orient Express review – Branagh's starry romp runs out of steam | Peter Bradshaw's film of the week

The big-name cast includes everyone from Johnny Depp to Judi Dench, but this snowbound Agatha Christie adaptation is a dusty, old-fashioned dud

The word “sheer” is missing from the beginning of the title. Like a dusty and long-locked display room in Madame Tussauds, this movie showcases an all-star cast in period costume, each of whom must suppress his or her star quality in the cause of being part of an all-star cast. It is a new version of Agatha Christie’s 1934 detective mystery, one of her most ingenious, all about a grisly killing on board a train that is marooned in snow. The story arguably has something to say about the nature of guilt and the nature of authorship. Kenneth Branagh directs and plays the legendary Belgian sleuth Hercule Poirot with an unfeasibly large ’tache, accessorised with a demi-goatee beneath the lower lip and a pepper-and-salt colouring overall, like the
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Hollywood Flashback: In 1974, an A-List Cast Boarded the 'Orient Express'

Hollywood Flashback: In 1974, an A-List Cast Boarded the 'Orient Express'
Murder on the Orient Express was made into a movie with an all-star cast that included Sean Connery, Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman, John Gielgud and — in the lead role of Hercule Poirot — Albert Finney, The Hollywood Reporter's review was upbeat but not thrilled.

Phrases such as "classy production" and "entertaining adaptation" were used to describe the Sidney Lumet-directed film. (On Nov. 2, Fox's version of Express, which Kenneth Branagh both stars in as Poirot and directs, premieres at London's Royal Albert Hall.)

THR was more enthused when the $1.4...
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Film Review: ‘Frank Serpico’

Film Review: ‘Frank Serpico’
Frank Serpico” is a finely etched and fascinating documentary. Directed by Antonino D’Ambrosio, it’s a portrait of the legendary Brooklyn-born Italian-American cop who blew the whistle on New York police corruption in the late ’60s and early ’70s — and, of course, it’s a movie you can hardly watch without comparing it to “Serpico,” the 1973 Sidney Lumet drama, starring Al Pacino in the title role, that became a classic of New Hollywood street grit and moral urgency.

How accurate was “Serpico”? The short answer is: very. It stuck close to the 1973 Peter Maas book, and “Frank Serpico” reveals just how much of Serpico’s story became, through the movie, iconic. As it turns out, the legend and the truth match up nicely.

As you watch “Frank Serpico,” the story comes rushing back, and it now seems all the more amazing, like a Western that really happened. The idealistic uniformed cop of the early ’60s who
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Kenneth Branagh Journeys From Belfast to the Battle of ‘Dunkirk’ and Beyond

Kenneth Branagh Journeys From Belfast to the Battle of ‘Dunkirk’ and Beyond
Kenneth Branagh’s career spans 30 years of grand cinematic accomplishments. Able to jump from acting to directing with total ease, the five-time Oscar nominee starred earlier this year in Christopher Nolan’s WWII blockbuster and awards hopeful “Dunkirk.” He is getting ready to release his latest dual effort as actor-cum-director, this November’s “Murder on the Orient Express.” After that, he’ll direct “Artemis Fowl” for Disney.

“It’s been a great year and I’m enjoying every moment of it,” says Branagh, who will be honored with an imprint ceremony Oct. 26 in the Tcl Chinese Theatre forecourt. “Doing ‘Dunkirk’ was an experience I’ll never forget, and considering that I loved Sidney Lumet’s original and Agatha Christie’s novel, I’m excited to be bringing this new version of ‘Orient Express’ to life. I love train films and confined thrillers, and by doing it in 70mm, we really wanted to put the audience on that
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‘Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead’ and the Ruthless Serenity of Sidney Lumet’s Swan Song

Looking back on this still-young century makes clear that 2007 was a major time for cinematic happenings — and, on the basis of this retrospective, one we’re not quite through with ten years on. One’s mind might quickly flash to a few big titles that will be represented, but it is the plurality of both festival and theatrical premieres that truly surprises: late works from old masters, debuts from filmmakers who’ve since become some of our most-respected artists, and mid-career turning points that didn’t necessarily announce themselves as such at the time. Join us as an assembled team, many of whom were coming of age that year, takes on their favorites.

A strip mall in Westchester looks like a strip mall anywhere else in America. The signs over each business even have the same nondescript font. A masked man storms into a mom n’ pop jewelry store (who
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S. Craig Zahler interview: Brawl In Cell Block 99, Bone Tomahawk

Simon Brew Oct 20, 2017

Writer/director S. Craig Zahler talks to us about his films, his approach, and Ridley Scott adapting his work…

I loved Brawl In Cell Block 99, the second feature film from novelist and filmmaker S. Craig Zahler. His first? Bone Tomahawk. I love that too, for the record. Zahler already feels like a very different voice in American film, a man content for his budgets to be low and control over his material to be high.

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He spared me some time for a chat to talk about the film, his approach, and what he feels about Drew Goddard and Ridley Scott adapting one of his books.

I came out of the movie being glad that
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Pain Pays the Income of Each Precious Thing: Stanley Kubrick's "Barry Lyndon"

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“For an intellectual product of any value to exert an immediate influence which shall also be deep and lasting, it must rest on an inner harmony, yes, an affinity, between the personal destiny of its author and that of his contemporaries in general.”—Thomas Mann, Death in Venice Barry Lyndon. I can’t believe there was a time when I didn’t know that name. Barry Lyndon means an artwork both grand and glum. Sadness inconsolable. A cello bends out a lurid sound, staining the air before a piano droopingly follows in the third movement of Vivaldi's “Cello Concerto in E Minor.” This piece, which dominates the second half of the film, steers the hallowed half of my head to bask in the film’s high melancholic temperature. Why should I so often remember it? What did I have to do with this film? I only received it with
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Learn the True Story Behind 'Serpico' in Trailer for 'Frank Serpico' Doc

"They're afraid to be honest, and that's a bad system." IFC Films has debuted a trailer for hte documentary titled Frank Serpico, telling the true story of the NYPD whistleblower Frank Serpico. Back in 1973, Sidney Lumet directed Al Pacino in the feature film Serpico, telling a fictionalized version of his story of how he called out rampant corruption in the NYPD force, only to have his comrades turn against him. This new documentary goes back and lets Serpico tell his story in his own words: from his Italian-American roots in Brooklyn to his disillusionment with the NYPD and beyond. Featuring interviews with Serpico's associates and admirers, including John Turturro, as well as music by Jack White. His story seems just as relevant today as it was when it first happened. You might want to check this out, looks like a compelling doc to see. Here's the official trailer for
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‘Frank Serpico’ Trailer: A Legendary Cop Takes On The System

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We all know Sidney Lumet‘s searing “Serpico” starring Al Pacino at the peak of his powers, but true story that inspired the film is truly something else. And now it’s being told in the pointedly named documentary, “Frank Serpico.”

Directed by Antonino D’Ambrosio (“Let Fury Have The Hour“), the film tells the true story of Frank Serpico — from the man himself — and how he went up against the blue wall of silence, and fought corruption inside the police department.

Continue reading ‘Frank Serpico’ Trailer: A Legendary Cop Takes On The System at The Playlist.
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The strange sex scene of Supernova

Simon Brew Oct 9, 2017

Supernova is a film with a messy story behind it. And a very, very odd sex scene...

Supernova is a film that started promisingly. Originated in 1990 under the title of Dead Star, the idea – as pitched by writer William Malone – would be for something akin to Dead Calm, just in space. Dead Calm is a great choice of influence too, with Phillip Noyce’s out-on-the-water thriller using isolation expertly, as Billy Zane puts in one of his best, and most menacing, screen performances.

Dead Star was set to follow a similar idea, and that meant a modest budget at most – around $6m was cited – would be needed to tell the story of alien artefacts being brought back to Earth. Enquires were made of H R Giger, who duly did some concept art work to help promote the script.

MGM was the studio that bit, although it had ideas.
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