Famous detective Hercule Poirot is on the Orient Express, but the train is caught in the snow. When one of the passengers is discovered murdered, Poirot immediately starts investigating. Written by
Murray Chapman <email@example.com>
Still the best introduction to Hercule Poirot for non-readers
Sidney Lumet directs a great cast through a brilliant cinematic interpretation of one of Agatha Christie's most popular Hercule Poirot Mysteries. The train upon which the great investigator finds himself is halted by an avalanche of snow in the Alps, and two horrible crimes seem to have intersected in the first class cabin. Despite the cramped quarters, the only witness is the murder victim himself, and Poirot must put together the solution from disparate and seemingly contradictory evidence.
The three most striking qualities of this film are its production values, cast, and Finney's exhausting performance. Although a little over-the-top, Finney gets Poirot exactly right - Poirot is played as a somewhat obsessive, slightly manic, and flamboyant Belgian - not at all as a non-English Sherlock Holmes. The cast speaks for itself. Bacall, Perkins, Hiller, Redgrave, York and Bissett are all delightful in their supporting roles. But perhaps the most under-recognized achievement of this film is its cinematography. The film is extremely visually engaging from start to finish. This is achieved by perfect visual pacing, great camera work, spectacular - though somewhat cramped and redundant - sets, good costuming, and a stunningly attractive cast.
Murder on the Orient Express also succeeds in sticking with Christie's original narrative (mostly), and sets a high standard for film versions of the great mystery writers repertoire. From my perspective, the film remains unequaled among the Poirot interpretations and meets the challenge of adapting and simplifying Christie's often complex exposition very nicely.
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