Railway director and fellow Belgian Monsieur Bouc secures Poirot a last minute berth on the Orient Express, returning to England from Istanbul. Ratchett, an abrasive American businessman, traveling with his valet and male secretary, tries to secure Poirot's services as he fears that his life is in danger. Poirot turns him down, but the next morning, whilst the train is stuck in a snowdrift in Serbia, Ratchett is found stabbed to death. There is vague talk of a man seen fleeing the train, but many of the passengers in Poirot's compartment do not appear to know either Ratchett or each other, so what could the motive be? Poirot, assisted by Bouc and Dr. Constantine, attempts to find out. Written by
don @ minifie-1
The original 1934 title was "Murder on the Calais Coach" because it was feared that readers would confuse it with "Stamboul Train" by Graham Greene, published in 1932. See more »
Mr. Bouc compares one of the characters to the "Bismark" battleship. The Bismark was laid down in 1936 only, launched in 1939 and commissioned in 1940. See more »
No! Lieutenant, you lie to Poirot. You say that you were in the barracks by midnight, but Poirot has proved this to be false. At a quarter to one in the morning you were seen over two miles away in the company of the woman who died. General, this is not a murder, as is suggested by the Palestinian police, but I do believe the lieutenant lied about his whereabouts, first out of panic and then, by sticking to this *lie*, but reinforcing it with *lie* after *lie* for weeks and weeks ...
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For those of you who object to changing a word of Christie's books or altering (= developing) Poirot's character: there have been so many filmed versions of the story, what's the point of just doing the same thing over again?
The script (by Stewart Harcourt) gives Suchet a chance to be more brilliant than ever, and modifies many details of the story in order to make it both more concise and in its own way more moving and more plausible. The1974 film version with Finney turned the whole thing into high campnot a bad idea! But this version brings new depths to the story and new resonances.
Those who object to the introduction of Catholicism, etc., seem to ignore the way this version begins: Poirot watches his own methods of "justice" go terribly wrong when a military man whom he has proved to be a liar, and whom he castigates with terrible vehemence, commits suicide in front of him. Then he witnesses the stoning of an adulteress in Ankara. Surely a man as brilliant and cultured as he must either take such experiences to heart or not be a human being worth knowing or caring about. Poirot's brain is made of grey cells, not computer circuits. He is brilliant but vain; polite and yet capable of brutality in words if not deeds; generous yet coldly formal. What's wrong with throwing a Catholic sensibility into the mix, especially when he is growing old, and his upbringing must be coming back into mind more and more? Anyway, such is his character in this version, and I find it fascinating.
Finally, a word of praise for the superb direction of the episode (Philip Martin). Acting, camera angles, lighting, pacingall have great style and verve, and the music (Christian Henson) adds considerably to the tension and forward momentum.
In sum, I share the enthusiasm of all the others here who have found this a wonderful episode. Thank you, David Suchet, and all others involved!
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