31 December 2005 | bkoganbing
A well executed murder in every sense of the word.
Murder on the Orient Express started a nice trend in filming some of the most stylish of Agatha Christie novels by producer John Brabourne. Although Albert Finney who does a fine job as the Belgian Sleuth Hercule Poirot declined to do further films with Poirot, Peter Ustinov more than amply took up the slack in later productions.
Richard Widmark is an American expatriate traveling on the famous Orient Express train and he's been receiving mysterious death threats. As it happens Poirot is on the train also and refuses Widmark's offer to be a bodyguard.
Widmark is later stabbed to death in his compartment and while the train is stranded somewhere in Yugoslavia due to snow drifts, Poirot investigates the murder in the best Agatha Christie tradition. Of course in that same tradition the plotters would have gotten away with it more than likely had Poirot and his little gray cells not been present.
Widmark as it also turns out was a gangster who had to flee America because he was named as the mastermind of a horrific crime that shocked the nation. There are a whole lot of people who had reason to want him dead.
Poirot conducts his inquiry of the other passengers and they are quite a crew consisting of among others, Lauren Bacall, Michael York, Sean Connery, Ingrid Bergman, Wendy Hiller, Rachel Roberts, Vanessa Redgrave, Jacqueline Bissett, etc.
Of course I won't tell you the solution, but here's a hint. Note what Sean Connery says while he's being grilled.
It's a great ensemble cast of course with a bunch of seasoned players doing their thing. Ingrid Bergman got a Best Supporting Actress award for her portrayal of a simple soul who is a missionary. I'm betting the critics noted that her part was offbeat casting for her which she pulled off. In any event she was surprised as all get out when her name was read at the Oscars in 1975. In accepting the award she got up and said quite matter-of-factly that fellow nominee Valentina Cortese deserved it. Of course she didn't turn it down.
As I said, this was one elaborately planned murder and I think you will enjoy seeing Poirot unravel it and what happens later.