• giorgiosurbani14 September 2007
    That Sidney Lumet knows how to frame an actor within his or her character is a very well known fact - "The Pawnbroker" "Network" "Dog Day Afternoon" and some other spectacular pieces of acting prove that point unquestionably. Here, there is a sort of "divertissment". Agatha Christie given a first class treatment (not that Margaret Rutherford as Miss Marple wasn't first class, but the production value here is as impressive as the cast) in the hands of Sidney Lumet who knew how to put a bunch of sensational actors in a confined space - "12 Angry Men" for instance and make it riveting. There a 12 Angry people here too and (almost) each part is cast with relish and delight. Albert Finney, marvelous, manages, not only to survive, under the weight of his characterization but to create something bold, exquisitely structured, great fun to watch and to hear. Ingrid Bergman won her third Oscar for her missionary looking after little brown babies - I thought she was a highlight indeed but in my modest opinion, Valentina Cortese for "Day For Night" deserved it that year, Anthony Perkins plays Norman Bates's twin brother, also with a mother fixation and a compelling facial tic. Wendy Hiller was, clearly, having a ball and that, on the screen, is always contagious. Sean Connery and Vanessa Redgrave make a surprisingly hot pair, Lauren Bacall over does it of course but who cares, Jacqueline Bisset is breathtaking, Rachel Roberts a hoot. John Gielgud is John Gielgud and that in itself is a major plus. Colin Blakely does wonders with his moment and Dennis Quilley plays his Italian as if this was a silent movie. Martin Balsam is always fun to watch, no matter the accent. Richard Widmark is splendid in his villainy and Jean Pierre Cassel very moving indeed. The only weak spot in the cast is Michael York. Totally unbelievable. I suspect that "Murder in The Orient Express" 33 years old already, will continue delighting audiences for years to come.
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  • Lechuguilla7 February 2005
    This whodunit story by Dame Agatha is excellent. She has always been my favorite writer of detective fiction. I keep returning to the film version, however, not because of the story but because of the film's sheer elegance and style. It is awash in elegance ... the majestic cinematography; the glamorous clothes; the delightfully eccentric aristocratic characters; the mysterious yet refined musical score. The film is so theatrically regal I'm surprised that it did not feature a representative of British royalty.

    The setting is Europe in the 1930's. The pace is slow and relaxed. And while the dialogue is in English, the film has a deliciously international flavor, with a mix of interesting accents and word pronunciations. Heavy on dialogue, the film never seems overly talky, the result of a clever screenplay and lush visuals. Humor is included in the script usually in the form of tasteful put-downs. Example: an attractive Mrs. Hubbard comments: "Don't you agree the man must have entered my compartment to gain access to Mr. Ratchett?" The aging Princess Dragomiroff responds in a deadpan tone: "I can think of no other reason, madam."

    In his portrayal of Hercule Poirot, Albert Finney almost literally disappears into the role, a tribute to convincing makeup and to Finney's adroit acting. His performance is appropriately idiosyncratic, deliciously hammy, and theatrical, every bit as entertaining in this film as Peter Ustinov is in subsequent Christie movies. The rest of the cast has ensemble parts, my favorite being Wendy Hiller whose Princess Dragomiroff comes across as royal, proud, and very eccentric.

    With its snowy landscapes, ornate and cozy interiors, and subdued lighting, "Murder On The Orient Express" is an excellent movie to watch on a cold, winter night, snuggled under a blanket or next to a warm fireplace with a cup of cappuccino or a glass of cognac. Just be sure that all knives and daggers in your mansion are out of reach from your staff of servants.
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  • One of the most famous of Dame Agatha Christie's novels. This is a glorious, beautifully directed, star studded production. I will be honest and say it took me a long time to appreciate just how good a film this actually is.

    The format and layout of the film works tremendously well, the dark and twisted kidnap and killing story at the beginning sets the tone well, it hits hard, and makes the end of the film all the more engaging and believable.

    The film looks sensational, it is a beautiful production (especially in HD) the scenery throughout is lavish, a true feast for the eyes. From the bright sunny beginning, to the dark, bleak and snowy scene of the murder. The film seems to get intentionally darker as it progresses. The costumes are glorious, Jacqueline Bisset especially gets to wear some wonderful outfits.

    Albert Finney is good in the part, he certainly looks the part, when I read the book he is exactly how I visualise him. He is wonderfully theatrical, and as Ustinov definitely suits the flavour of Death on the Nile, so does Finney here.

    The characterisations aside from Poirot are expertly brought to life, some glorious performances, Lauren Bacall and Wendy Hillier are sensational in their roles, how well the cast bring to life the class system of 1930, it really was a different world. Sir John Gielgud is tremendous as stiff upper lipped Beddoes, and plaudits also to Richard Widmark who makes Mr Ratchett as vile as possible.

    9/10 you can almost smell the gourmet cooking and hear the clink of Champagne flutes. A glorious film. Kenneth Branagh's new adaptation has a lot to live up to.
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  • The film is in fact based on the 1934 novel Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie. It is a wonderful film - I have never read the book to compare to the movie - but I can say the film is worth watching if you love a good mystery movie.

    An all-star, well seasoned, cast does help to make the film more intriguing, more appealing because all gave outstanding performances in this film. The story itself will easily pull you in even if you are unfamiliar with the cast - the story (mystery) is that good.

    If you like this movie then you may enjoy similar types of films like "Sleuth", "Deathtrap" or "Murder By Death".

    9/10
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  • Agatha Christie lived long enough to enjoy something few of her contemporaries could claim.

    Movies based on Christie's novels and stories were being made back to the 1930s. One early one with Charles Laughton as Hercule Poiret so turned her off that she was hesitant about future productions of her work. But they were made - like the two versions of LOVE FROM A STRANGER. There were two high points: Rene Clair's AND THEN THERE WERE NONE and Billy Wilder's WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION (oddly enough with Laughton again, but in a better fitting performance). Then came the popular series of Miss Marple films with Margaret Rutherford, which were rewritten to emphasize Rutherford's comic abilities (and to give Miss Marple a companion - Mr. Stringer, played by Rutherford's husband Stringer Davis). Another attempt at Poirot was made, again as a comic film, THE A.B.C.MURDERS (with Tony Randall as Poirot). Christie was not amused. But in 1974 she saw her vision of Hercule Poirot as a character put properly on screen by Albert Finney in MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS.

    It gave her a satisfaction that few mystery novelists of her age ever had. Dorothy Sayers did live to see Lord Peter Wimsey played by Robert Montgomery in BUSMAN'S HONEYMOON, but while entertaining it was not the Wimsey that she created - she died before she could see Ian Carmichael play the role on a series of television multi-episodes shows based on her novels. While Josephine Tey's novels occasionally were made into films, her Inspector Grant was not turned into a good running series character.

    I think that the reason that Agatha Christie was satisfied was the care that Sidney Lumet took with MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS. Not only the all star cast involved, but keeping the story in the late 1920s to early 1930s style, with clothing, vehicles, and class snobbery maintained. It actually helped preserve the novel's effectiveness.

    The casting is quite good. Poirot is ably played by Finney, who is fussy but also serious and sharp when going over the clues and interrogations. Martin Balsam as his friend, the railroad official, is properly "watsonish", constantly jumping at conclusions as to who the killer is. Interestingly forgotten in the background is the only other passenger we learn of that is not under suspicion, the Greek doctor who assists Poirot (George Coulouris). In the 1940s Coulouris would have been a red herring at least.

    The suspects (led by Lauren Bacall and Wendy Hiller) are properly snobbish (especially Sean Connery). They are even snobbish towards each other. But the question of who killed the victim is handled to constantly throw off the viewers. It is one of the most perfectly balanced whodunits.

    I only have one minor criticism. The murder centers on a "Lindbergh" kidnap-murder tragedy of the past, and the killer has to be someone after the real brains behind the tragedy. So all the suspects happen to be connected to the victim(s). But as it turns out there was one victim who was overlooked - the patsy killer (based on Hauptmann?) who was frightened into committing the crime and was hanged. It would have been interesting if the family of this criminal also had been represented among the suspects.
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  • This is both a glamorous and entertaining adaptation of Agatha's Christie's mystery novel. There's certainly a star studded cast but perhaps the main star is the luxury train itself, the legendary Orient Express bound from Istanbul to Calais. Black with gold crests, it hisses steam as it streaks dramatically through the Balkans. Inside are opulent interiors, intriguing compartments, gourmet cuisine, fine wines & liqueurs, and elegantly costumed passengers. Of course there's the typical enclosed group of suspects with a murderer in their midst.

    The setting is 1935 and Belgian detective Hercule Poirot boards the Orient Express along with an assortment of colourful, suspicious passengers. One of them ends up murdered in his compartment, a man discovered to be a fugitive responsible (but never prosecuted) for the kidnapping some years earlier of a child that resulted in five deaths. Poirot is called upon to solve the crime, discovering that some of these intriguing passengers may not be who they appear but instead have links to this past case of kidnapping and murder.

    Albert Finney is convincing as the eccentric detective Poirot, with his slick black hair and elegant little curled mustache. He plays the role more seriously than Peter Ustinov in Death on the Nile, another film with a star studded cast. I enjoy both renditions of the detective, though my favourite may be A&E's David Suchet. I have heard that Christie herself approved of Albert Finney, but agree with her conclusion that Finney's mustache is too small! My only complaint is the scene in which Poirot is screaming quite abusively at Miss Debenham. It's out of character for this very cerebral detective.

    Yes, as the tag line claims, it's definitely the who's who in the whodunit, with the passengers all portrayed by famous stars. These actors must have had fun with their roles. Richard Widmark portrays the obnoxious American businessman, Mr. Ratchett, with Sir John Gielgud his perfectly cast, reserved butler Beddoes, and Anthony Perkins his secretary MacQueen. Michael York and Jacqueline Bisset play the mysterious, foreign Count and Countess Andrenyi, who act guilty as all get out. Lauren Bacall is suitably irritating as the loud, outspoken Mrs. Hubbard, while Ingrid Bergman is a frightened Swedish missionary...or is she? Bergman was a magnificent actress in many roles, but I have to agree with some who question whether she deserved the Best Supporting Actress Oscar here for really, quite a minor part.

    Sean Connery is handsome as always portraying the indignant Scottish Colonel Arbuthnot, though I find him even more appealing now. Like a fine wine, he simply improves with age! Vanessa Redgrave plays his love interest, Miss Debenham. What are these two hiding? Obviously something! Of course there's an aristocratic and eccentric old dowager aboard, the proud and haughty Princess Dragomiroff, played to perfection by Wendy Hiller. You can just tell that this black clad and bejeweled lady is not telling the truth! Personally, I took a liking to the train's French conductor, though was previously unfamiliar with the actor, Jean-Pierre Cassel.

    The famous locomotive is halted by a snow drift and meanwhile, Poirot is designated to solve the crime, interrogating each suspicious passenger in turn. The detective must summon his little gray cells to ferret it all out, though I find little humour in him here. No spoilers, but I think this is one of Christie's more clever twists. Personally, I would never have guessed the murderer if I hadn't read the novel first. However, one of the suspects being interrogated does give a clue, if you're really sharp!
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  • 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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  • The movie is an excellent whodunit and concerns upon one murder in the Orient Express train with Hercules Poirot (Albert Finney) as sleuth-man to solve it . There are many suspects , all support cast : Sean Connery , Ingrid Bergman , Anthony Perkins , Vanessa Redgrave , Jacqueline Bisset , Richard Widmark , Rachel Roberts , John Gielgud , Michael York , etc . Who's the killer? . Poirot is helped by a ¨Watson-alike¨ (Martin Balsam) and they will track down to culprit at the end .

    At the beginning of the film talks about a kidnapping and killing a baby similarly to the Lindberg's son and which the murderer was condemned to death row , this one will be related with the death of the train.

    The motion picture is only set on two scenarios : the station and train . However this doesn't make boring it.

    The runtime movie is overlong : two hours and some but isn't slow-moving and is amount amusing for suspense and tension.

    First-rate interpretation specially from Albert Finney and Ingrid Bergman , Oscar winner as best secondary actress .

    The set design and costumes are riveting , the flick is magnificently set by that time . Evocative musical score by Richard Rodney Bennett . Geoffrey Unsworth's cinematography is atmospheric and colorful.

    Sidney Lumet's direction is fascinating such as ¨12 angry men¨ .

    The movie will appeal to suspense enthusiasts and thriller lovers.

    Rating: 7,5/10 . Very good
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  • "Murder On The Orient Express" is arguably the most famous theatrically released film based on an Agatha Christie book, but there are two factors that keep me from rating it quite as high as its successors, "Death On The Nile" and "Evil Under The Sun": a) Albert Finney has his moments as Hercule Poirot, but sometimes his stuffy, mannered performance comes close to obnoxiousness (some people might claim that he's trying to be more accurate to the character as written by Christie, but I don't think the Poirot of the books would ever tear up the menu of a restaurant and throw the pieces up in the air), b) although the solution to the mystery is one of Christie's most daring and unusual, it is also pretty tough to translate from the page to the screen because it is necessary to introduce a remarkably high number of characters and explain the connection of all their backgrounds to the present events. The script does not succeed 100% at this task, and some of Poirot's conclusions seem to come from pure supposition. Besides all that, however, there's still a lot to like about "Murder On The Orient Express": the superb cast (though I don't know why Ingrid Bergman won an Oscar for this role, if anyone deserved such an award, it was probably John Gielgud or Wendy Hiller), the exhilarating music score, the nostalgic train setting, and some memorably atmospheric scenes (the opening, the re-construction of the crime, etc.). Definitely a film that can be watched multiple times. *** out of 4.
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  • 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.
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  • nycritic20 December 2005
    Warning: Spoilers
    That Poirot. Always a beacon for dreadful things which happen just within earshot, and only he up to the task of solving them. If only he could get a break and take off to some far-away land and relax from the evils that men do.

    But Agatha Christie has other things in hand. On a trip between Paris and Istanbul, something quite horrible happens to another passenger, one Mr. Ratchett, a man who has been suspected to have been the mastermind behind the Lindbergh baby incident in which she was kidnapped and killed. It would be up to the local authorities to come and intervene, but a snowstorm has stalled the train midway and Poirot has to locate the killer.

    MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS is drenched in style and reminds me of GOSFORD PARK, its much younger cousin. When a movie has so much acting and overacting and actors of such stature such comparisons will not be overlooked, but this story has a lot more up its sleeve which I won't reveal for those who haven't seen it. Suffice it be to say that the names alone (while in later years did not guarantee a good film, here they do) are of this caliber: Lauren Bacall, Albert Finney (as Poirot), Ingrid Bergmann (who won an Oscar, her third, for Best Supporting Actress), Sean Connery, Anthony Perkins, Jacqueline Bisset, Vanessa Redgrave, Sir John Gielgud, Martin Balsam, Richard Widmark, Michael York, Wendy Hiller, Jean-Pierre Cassel, George Coulouris, and Rachel Roberts.

    Boasting one of the most riveting monologues ever committed on film, MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS remains one of the more sumptuous Agatha Christie whodunits and is another strong (if atypical) film in veteran film director Sidney Lumet's career.
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  • I love murder mysteries. I'm a sucker for them whether it's reading a book or seeing a movie. "Murder on the Orient Express" is one of the best murder mystery movies ever made. Based on the novel by mystery sleuth Agatha Christie, it takes you on a ride by train where we meet an assortment of colorful characters all traveling on the Orient Express. When one of these characters is murdered, the rest become suspects. And it's up to famed Belgian detective Hercule Poirot to solve the crime. "Murder on the Orient Express" has an intriguing script, good direction, and a spectacular cast to boot. Albert Finney is picture perfect in his Oscar nominated portrayl of the fussy Poirot. While watching Finney in this movie, I can't believe that this is the same man who played Julia Roberts' boss in "Erin Brockovich" because he's so unrecognizable here. Finney is supported by an all-star cast of mostly familiar faces. Of the actors playing the suspects, Lauren Bacall scores highest as an annoying American woman who talks loud and isn't afraid to say what's on her mind. Also good: the great Swedish actress Ingrid Bergman who won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar (her third overall) for her small performance as an African missionary; and Martin Balsam as the director of the line and Mr. Poirot's personal friend. Jacqueline Bisset, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Sean Connery, John Gielgud, Wendy Hiller, Anthony Perkins, Vanessa Redgrave, Rachel Roberts, Richard Widmark, and Michael York round out the familiar cast. "Murder on the Orient Express" is a classy movie to be sure. Is this the best murder mystery movie ever made? Almost. A few years later came the next Agatha Christie movie "Death on the Nile", which in my opinion topped "Murder on the Orient Express" and ranks as my all-time favorite mystery movie. But "Murder on the Orient Express" places right behind "Death on the Nile" as the second best. There is no question that these two movies would be perfect to show on television as a double feature. Stick 'em on AMC, and your all set.

    ***1/2 (out of four)
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  • Whatever happened to the all star movie? Are they just too expensive now? I know a lot of the great stars are no longer with us, but there are enough to make another gem like this one. I just wish this movie was longer, so I could relish the performances of these brilliant people even more. What a magic moment it is when LAUREN BACALL and INGRID BERGMAN clink champagne classes - you can almost hear "As Time Goes By" playing in the background. Come on Hollywood, give us another all star movie, before we lose even more Hollywood royalty!
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  • I like mystery films and TV shows, but I've never been a big fan of Agatha Christie's Poirot. The character is rather hard to relate to. Unlike the intelligent English gentleman Sherlock Holmes, for example, Poirot is more of a bungling, silly foreigner and despite his moments of brilliance, it seems to come off as an accident due to his demeanour than because of his brains. Still, the character is certainly memorable and he's always the centre of attention no matter what else is going on in the film, even if it is for the wrong reasons. Anyway, the most important thing about this film is the mystery, which is rather well done. We follow the death of a man on the train 'the Orient Express'. Of course, it isn't long before Poirot is on the case and it doesn't take him long to connect this murder with the murder of a young girl from years earlier. The problem with the mystery is that it moves very slowly, and in the first half hour, for example, all that really happens is that Poirot gets himself a first class room on the train. Still, once it gets going it moves well and the way that Poirot puts the clues together manages to ensure that the film is always interesting.

    This film features quite a few smaller performances from well-known screen actors, including Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman, Anthony Perkins, Vanessa Redgrave, Michael York and Sean Connery. The support cast help the film massively, as they're all integral to the central plot. Albert Finney takes the lead role and does excellently in bringing the detective to life. His performance suitably gives life to Poirot, and in this film he is everything that you would expect an eccentric Belgian detective to be. The fact that the mystery is set aboard the Orient Express is important as it ensures that the film exudes class throughout, and it also means that the small cast is always isolated aboard the claustrophobic vessel. I do think that more could have made of the train setting, as we're not always conscious of it; but what is made of it is good. Many mystery films fall down at the conclusion, but it's safe to say that this one does not. It takes Albert Finney about twenty minutes to run through exactly what happened, but it's worth the wait as there's practically no chance of guessing who did it! Overall, this isn't great or a classic; but it's very good and highly recommended!
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  • An all star cast aboard a luxuary train are questioned and suspected of a murder when one of the passengers who was already fearing for his life is found dead and all this seems to be releated to a child that was kidnapped and murdered years earlier.

    Exceptionally done thriller is a homage to the mysteries of Hollywood's golden age with fun and brilliantly done performances from a seasoned cast, but Ingrid Bergman, Lauren Bacall, and an unreconizable Albert Finney really stand out. Magnaficent score, sets, costumes, color schemes, dialogue, and a fine eye for detail just add to the fun. Never a dull or boring moment; the finale is really, really good. I just love everything about this film. Very highly recommanded film is in my top 10 films of the 70's and is in my top 100 films of all time.
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  • Warning: Spoilers
    Despite it was filmed almost 40 years ago, Murder on the Orient Express still is great - even if you've read the book. Finney, I have to admit, isn't the best Poirot, but he acts well enough. And the rest of the cast is wonderful! Lauren Bacall is the best, I think: she manages to be an excellent actress twice, to play the part of Linda Arden who plays the part of Mrs Hubbard! When Linda's identity is revealed, you can almost see her turning into a totally different person!

    The humor of the book is kept in the movie. Pity that Monsieur Bouc's constant suspicions about the Italian are cut out, but instead we have him changing his opinion after every interrogation. Yet Mrs Hubbard's hilarious character is very much the same. And the questioning of Countess Andrenyi is accompanied by continuous looks of devoted watchfulness and almost grotesque jealousy of the Count. There are countless other details (such as Princess Dragomiroff's doggies) that give the movie some lightness a mystery always needs.

    And, last but not least, the film's very touching. It's actually the only film besides Titanic and Hamlet that always brings me to tears. Ingrid Bergman gives a perfect performance of the gentle, soft-hearted Swedish lady, who is hesitant even to strike the brutal murderer. And by the end of the film there also is a very moving scene with the calm official Pierre Michel crying over his dead daughter's picture - that was the director's brilliant addition that allowed us to further understand the struggles and suffering of the characters.

    Again, it's a truly ageless movie and you won't regret watching it.
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  • If you want to introduce your children to the murder-mystery genre without scaring them or boring them, then show them this terrific film, which made instant Poirot fans of my 10 and 13 year-old kids. Albert Finney is so over-the-top that he towers over an excellent ensemble cast, and his performance became the standard that I'm sure David Suchet aspired to for many years. The opening sequence, showing the back-story of the 'Baby Armstrong' case, is very creepy and engages the viewer immediately. The sets and costumes (and even the opening credits) remind one of the grand Hollywood spectacles of the past. Sidney Lumet's direction is outstanding, as are the performances throughout. Definitely worth an annual viewing.
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  • A great ensemble cast. Superb direction. An amazing mystery. The finest of the Christie film versions. Finney is the most amazing screen Poirot since the great Charles Laughton. He's devilish as much as he is clever and cunning. Beautifully crafted and scripted, the film is one of the finest of the genre. Not to be missed.
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  • Agatha Christie was one of the greatest writers of crime novels ever. However, its hard to doubt that the short episodes and films of "Agatha Christie's Poirot" set a new paradigm for the adaptation of these books to cinema or television and that it will be difficult, in the next years, to surpass the interpretation of David Suchet. Anyway, this movie is prior to all this, dating back to 1974. The plot faithfully follows the book, so there is no great mystery here. What struck me most was the luxurious star-cast, worthy of a true super-production, with memorable names like Albert Finney, Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman, Jacqueline Bisset, Jean- Pierre Cassel, Sean Connery, Wendy Hiller, Anthony Perkins and Vanessa Redgrave. Impressive. Personally, I didn't find Finney convincing in the role of the Belgian detective. The way he moved and spoke seemed very unnatural, particularly the way he seemed to be hiding his neck all the time. But this is the only negative criticism for cast performance, which did a very good job. Particularly, I would point out Lauren Bacall for the intense and passionate way she was given to her character. Ingrid Bergman and Wendy Hiller also deserve a word of praise. The rest, however, did not have much room to truly shine. It even feels sometimes that the cast has not been completely taken advantage of.

    Visually, the movie is very good. Cinematography uses a lot of light and the colors are pleasant, as well as the choice of locations, sets and costumes. The soundtrack was competent and did his job well, but it's far from iconic.
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  • 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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  • Warning: Spoilers
    BEST ACTING PERFORMANCE: Ingrid Bergman in an interesting role for her. Pure acting, not a caricature as are many of the performances in this movie. Gives her "mousy" role some edginess by adding fervent religious undertones.

    MOST BELIEVABLE AND NATURAL: Jean-Pierre Cassel. Don't know him but would search out other movies he is in.

    MOST NOTICEABLE: Sean Connery (Honorable mention: Vanessa Redgrave).

    MOST DISAPPOINTING: Albert Finney. Appears to be working far too hard, to the point of straining. I think his speaking style is too bombastic for this role. An actor can say "he killed five people" multiple times and get the point across without shrieking the line. I didn't really notice his acting because he only looked like someone trying to be a high-powered actor, rather than actually being one.

    PERFECTLY CAST: Anthony Perkins.

    MISCAST: Martin Balsam (looks like a very American, New York stage actor who has been inserted into this European role for some reason known only to the producers.)

    Lavishly produced, beautiful to look at, well-paced. To its everlasting credit (thank you Mr.Lumet) this movie manages to deliver an aura of exciting train travel. Nostalgic, somewhat corny 1930's-tribute musical score.

    Very strong plot- almost too strong for movies but good for a book. Makes you nostalgic for the 1930's but not necessarily for the 1970's or 1970's movie-making.
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  • Robert J. Maxwell25 November 2002
    7/10
    Fun
    Spoilers. There is a delicious score, an elegant and whimsical 1936 waltz, on which during moments of suspense a bassoon plays comic variations. Nothing is to be taken seriously. Certainly not the story. The plot gives us incidents which are evidently red herrings designed to mislead Inspector Poirot but mislead the viewer as well. Why should "the clumsy cliché" of the smashed watch telling us the time of the murder be necessary? Because, says Poirot, it is supposed to lead him to believe the murder took place at an earlier hour than it did, an hour in which all the suspects had unshakable alibis. But if the suspects were in cahoots, couldn't they have improvised the same alibis for a later hour as well? After all, Poirot was asleep in his compartment, or at least trying to sleep, all night. And the lady in the white nightgown with the red dragons -- what was that about? It complicated the plot with an added detail but couldn't have confused Poirot much since it was of no relevance to his perception of what was going on.

    The acting isn't meant to be taken seriously either. First, there is Albert Finney as Poirot, who looks absolutely great with every visible hair waxed to perfection, and an indefinable accent that wavers a bit from scene to scene, as if he were, as John Simon put it, "sending up trial Walloons." Everyone else overacts hammily (and enjoyably) too. Especially enjoyable is Sir John Gielgud as the batman or butler or valet or whatever he is, explaining away a "contusion" on the back of his head with, "The result of a fracas in the mess, concerning the quality of a pudding, sir, know as 'spotted dick'."

    There were one or two other things in the script that Agatha Christie (played by Vanessa Redgrave in "Agatha") could not have gotten away with. Guilgud also does a marvelous job with the simple act of stabbing his employer, wriggling the dagger from side to side in the unconscious man's chest, and yanking it out with a theatrical flourish and an expression not of rage but of utter contempt. Likewise impressive is Sean Connery as Colonel Arbuthnot, that mess hall accent and demeanor, that mustache more firmly established than the Empire itself, snapping at Poirot that he would not have been stupid enough to use his "peep cleaner" and leave it in the murdered man's ash tray.

    The least interesting performances probably include Jacqueline Bissett, Peter York, and some minor characters, but this is partly because their roles require less of them. (How can you be a hammy wagon-lit conductor?) I haven't read the novel in years but my impression is that this movie, with its additional wit, is an improvement.

    The elegance of first-class travel on a train whose very name is suggestive of mystery and romance is nicely conveyed. It's snowy and scenic and bitterly cold outside, but in these beautifully appointed compartments we are well and snug and can order fresh oysters and fruit and poached sole with one new potato and a green salad with no dressing. It's cramped of course, but that merely adds to the impression of coziness.

    The Orient Express as I experienced it in third class isn't really very elegant. The only space I could find was on the metal floor in front of a bathroom, whose door kept swinging open and shut. Everyone on board seemed to have a digestive disorder. After buying a bottle of home-made chianti from a vendor at one of the stops, for twenty-five cents, so did I. I suppose you have to be well-to, British, and middle class, as Christie was. All her views of the world, gathered in the wake of her archaeologist husband, are tourist's views, which is just fine.

    The plot, as always in a Christie story, is as finely tuned as a watch and follows its format as closely as any episode of "Columbo." Poirot meets an old friend in some unusual place. A murder takes place. Poirot interviews everyone and pieces the whole thing together, no matter how improbable the feat. The last chapter (or reel) has the guests gathered together silently while Poirot strides around, or in Finney's case, shuffles around, and explains what has happened and why. The solutions are usually a surprise when they are finally revealed, but repeated viewings don't hurt. In fact, knowing ahead of time what the end will look like gives us a chance to appreciate better the display and character and the planting of clues, real and false. This is nothing more than a divertimento but it is a highly likable one, without pretense, and neatly done.
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  • Great fun! The undeniably best version of any Agatha Christie novel and one of the most enjoyable films ever made. Incredible group of stars perfectly cast down to the smallest part. Ingrid Bergman won the Oscar and she is fine but Betty Bacall is the real scene stealer here. Blustery and boorish she is the perfect portrait of the overbearing tourist you want to avoid. Vanessa Redgrave looking great is loose, saucy and well matched with Sean Connery, a shame they never costarred again. Jacqueline Bisset, at the height of her beauty, gives a nice account of a high strung countess. Originally Marlene Dietrich was sought for the imperious Princess Dragomiroff and surely she would have been great but Wendy Hiller makes the part her own with a larger than life performance. Finney makes a terrific Poirot with an astonishing makeup job. Speaking of which both the production and wardrobe design are sensational. Even though it is on the long side Lumet keeps it humming along nicely with a musical score that sets the scene well without overwhelming the flow of the picture. If you've never seen this gem do so with haste.
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  • Warning: Spoilers
    I enjoyed this when it first came out-having now seen it again I must take myself to task! It has all the superficiality of movies historical of the 1970's---and it's money came from its star power. But poor accents from the non Europeans and Finney combined with, as has been pointed out, his absurd 'constipated' look and nonstop barking and harsh throaty voice makes this hard to finish-particularly the last 20 minutes. Have you ever been able to listen to someone shout for any period of time? Strange choice Finney-but at this time he was trying many different roles on stage-and his Hamlet and Macbeth were similarly afflicted with vocal worries and brusk and "busy" movement.

    Stylish and fairly true to the story-but in the end rather a bore.The new 'movie, from 2010 with Suchet is far too obsessed with dark and cold and 'what IS justice" --so that it makes Poirot seem small minded and angry---and its limited budget shows. Yet he is a wonderful Poirot-the best so far-and- outside of the homophobic who misread his feyness---it is somewhat more watchable than this despite its foolish additions and too severe Poriot portrait......
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  • From Sergio Leone's spaghetti Westerns to the makers of "Taken" there is something about European productions and their set locations in a movie that makes me feel like a stranger in a strange land as an American and Murder On The Orient Express has this in spades. It's engagingly balanced by its character driven story making it more gripping and entertaining though you do have to pay attention due to its use of flashbacks in connecting the dots.

    I saw this movie in the theaters in '75 when I was a teen and was just taken to another world that felt dangerous with the "you're on your own" aspect of traveling abroad (without the traveler's diarrhea) while running into some of the most quirky, creepy, eccentric and odd behaving characters that one might expect to meet on a train in Europe in the '30's. This seemingly eccentric behavior runs interference in hiding the truth about why and what would bring together on one train 12 oddball characters who seem to have nothing in common. Poirot slowly and diabolically works his way in his questioning of the 12 to make the connections.

    That ensemble of convincingly cagey acting characters is what the audience and Poirot must break through aided by effectively and obviously placed brief flashbacks to confessions and character back story each character reveals that at first were obscured by first impressions. Of course Poirot humorously dismisses with smart ass and equally quirky European flare and sophistication the suspect's phony behavior as a form of personal interrogation to rattle them in order to draw out more detail that points to the real murderer. Standouts in this form of re-remembering what was said outside the context of first impressions at the start of the movie is performances by oddly pasty pale complected Anthony Perkins and Ingrid Bergman's nervously, devout humanitarian character. The performances are not from your typical B-movie detective who done it.

    As a teen I was totally confused by these flashbacks and line of questioning even though I had read several Agatha Christie novels including "Murder On The Orient Express". The book had no flashbacks. This movie actually creates a whole other more interesting and character driven way to tell a who done it detective murder mystery in a most elegant and stylish way while remaining brilliantly grounded and believable by the performances of top shelf actors in gorgeous and authentic looking '30's era costumes.

    Through the years I've had to watch this movie several times in TV re-runs to understand the connections provided by the flashbacks even though I already knew the surprise ending. It's still fun to watch and I can't wait for the US release of the Blu-ray. I wish I could give the same review of the 2017 remake I saw last night.
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