The first class compartment of the December 1935 departure of the Orient Express from Istanbul is full, unusual for this time of the year. Regardless, famed and fastidious Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot, who needs to get back to London immediately, is able to secure last minute passage in the compartment with the assistance of his friend, Signor Bianchi, one of the directors of the train line who is also making the trip. Some of the first class passengers seem concerned about Poirot's presence on the train. At least one of them has reason to be concerned, as later, another first class passenger, who earlier in the trip asked Poirot to provide protection for him due to several death threats, is found murdered in his stateroom by multiple stabbings. At the time the victim is found, the train is unexpectedly stopped and delayed due to snow in remote Yugoslavia, which may be problematic for the murderer in getting away now that Poirot is on the case, which he is doing as a favor to ...Written by
With so many suspects in the plot, and none of them expendable, director Sidney Lumet decided that the audience's odds of keeping the characters straight would improve if he cast a familiar face in each role. Lumet thought the best way to acquire an all-star cast was to sign the biggest star first. In 1974, that was Sean Connery, who Lumet had previously directed in The Hill (1965), The Anderson Tapes (1971), and The Offence (1973). Once Connery was attached, the remainder of the cast was set in a matter of weeks. See more »
When Hardman introduces himself to Foscarelli and Beddoes, he tells them to "call me Dick", indicating that his first name is Richard. Yet his name, as Poirot points out during Hardman's interrogation, is Cyrus B. Hardman. See more »
Red Sails in the Sunset
Music by Will Grosz
Played by the band at the restaurant See more »
"Can you give me your solemn oath - as a foreigner?"
I don't mind telling you that my head nearly exploded during the opening credits: Albert Finney, Lauren Bacall, Sean Connery, Ingrid Bergman, Michael York, Vanessa Redgrave, Richard Widmark, Anthony Perkins, Martin Balsam, John Gielgud! Not to mention that 'Murder on the Orient Express (1974)' was directed by Sidney Lumet, one of my favourite filmmakers, and adapted from an Agatha Christie novel. It was only recently that I had my first encounter with noted Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, having enjoyed a few television episodes with David Suchet in the title role. Finney's Poirot is perhaps too much of a caricature, emphasising the cartoonish silliness of the character rather than the quiet superiority found in Suchet's portrayal (however, I'm not familiar with Christie's novel, and perhaps he was simply written that way). Nevertheless, the remainder of the ensemble cast provides stellar support.
Hercule Poirot is aboard a trans-European express train when a wealthy man (Widmark) is murdered in the neighbouring sleeping compartment. Poirot has a dozen suspicious suspects to choose from, and you'll never pick who did it. Such a large supporting cast may have proved difficult to depict without placing undue emphasis on any one character (and perhaps two hours is insufficient time to thoroughly explore everyone's motives), but Lumet does a good job of bringing together all the loose threads. Red herrings are scattered from right to left, and only Poirot himself can discern the real evidence from the decoys. Ingrid Bergman won her third Oscar for her role as shy missionary Greta, and I do love Ingrid, but the highlight for me was Lauren Bacall's insufferably loquacious Mrs Hubbard. For some high-class entertainment with some prestigious company, 'Murder on the Orient Express' is a surefire winner.
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