Just the name "Orient Express" conjures images of a bygone era. Add an all-star cast (including Sean Connery, Ingrid Bergman, Jacqueline Bisset, and Lauren Bacall, to name a few) and Agatha Christie's delicious plot and how can you go wrong? Particularly if you add in Albert Finney as Christie's delightfully persnickety sleuth, Hercule Poirot. Someone has knocked off nasty Richard Widmark on this train trip and, to Poirot's puzzlement, everyone seems to have a motive--just the setup for a terrific whodunit. Though it seems like an ensemble film, director Sidney Lumet gives each of his stars their own solo and each makes the most of it. Bergman went so far as to win an Oscar for her role. But the real scene-stealer is the ever-reliable Finney as the eccentric detective who never misses a trick. --Marshall Fine
Le Meurtre de l'Orient-Express ou Le Crime de l'Orient-Express (Murder on the Orient Express) est un film britannique, réalisé par Sidney Lumet, sorti en 1974. Il est directement adapté du roman éponyme d'Agatha Christie mettant en scène son célèbre détective belge Hercule Poirot....Pendant son trajet de trois jours à travers l'Europe, le célèbre Orient Express est subitement immobilisé suite à de nombreuses chutes de neige. Le détective Hercule Poirot est réveillé par un gémissement dans la cabine voisine. Le lendemain matin, un homme est découvert mort, frappé de plusieurs coups de couteau. L'assassin est toujours à bord pris au piège par la neige. Un Oscar du meilleur second rôle Ingrid Bergman. Ours d'Or au Festival de Berlin.
Many of the other reviewers criticize Albert Finney's performance as Poirot, but to my mind he comes much closer to Christie's creation than Peter Ustinov did. Finney captures the vanity and ego of the man in a more understated way, as well as physically looking like the Poirot I imagined reading the books as a teenager. There are many terrific performances in the film, from Wendy Hiller as a stone-faced Russian princess to Vanessa Redgrave who gives a rather joyful performance as an unflappable English secretary (the moment when she winks at Sean Connery before going in for questioning is one of the best moments in the film). There's a wildly successful attempt on the part of the art and set decorators, costume, makeup and hairdressers to recreate the opulence of a by-gone era. Richard Rodney Bennett's score is alternatively lush and eerie at exactly the right moments.
The only criticism I have of this film is that it feels like a series of shorts as Poirot interviews each of the suspects and there isn't much time given to the interactions of the passengers with each other. I could feel myself at some points ticking off who had had their ten minutes and who was still to come. Still, when the episodes star everyone from Lauren Bacall to Ingrid Bergman (in her Oscar-winning role) to John Gielgud, this is really a small complaint.
Sit back and enjoy a well-crafted piece of film making done with the kind of care that sadly seems to have gone out of fashion.
Thirty years ago in 1974, Sidney Lumet (who is known for directing "Network" in 1976, "Serpico" in 1973 and "Death Trap" in 1982) directed a murder-mystery film based upon the 1934 novel "Murder on the Orient Express" (a.k.a. "Murder in the Calais Coach"). The novel was written by the famous murder-mystery author Agatha Christie (1890-1976) and was the ninth book in the series that featured her famous fictional detective named Hercule Poirot. The Orient Express began service in 1883 as a passenger rail service between Paris and Venice. An additional southern route (known as the Simplon Orient Express) was started in 1919 that ran from Paris to Istanbul that also passed through Venice. It is upon the Simplon Orient Express that Agatha Christie placed the location for her novel. The 1974 film adaptation included an all-star cast, including the famous actor Albert Finney who played Hercule Poirot, for which he received an Oscar nomination for Best Actor. (Albert Finney has been nominated 4 times by the Academy for Best Actor and once for Best Supporing Actor, which was for his role as Ed Masry in the 2000 film "Erin Brockovich".) Poirot boards the Orient Express on his journey home after solving a murder case. On the train, in the sleeper cabin next to his is the millionaire businessman Mr. Ratchett (Richard Widmark), who is accompanied on the train by his secretary, Hector MacQueen (Anthony Perkins, 1932-1992), and his butler, Mr. Beddoes (Sir John Gielgud, 1904-2000). Other passengers on the train include the Countess Andrenyi (Jacqueline Bisset), Greta Ohlsson (Ingrid Bergman, 1915-1982), Mrs. Harriet Belinda Hubbard (Lauren Bacall), Colonel Arbuthnot (Sean Connery), Princess Dragomiroff (Wendy Hiller, 1912-2003), Mary Debenham (Vanessa Redgrave), Hildegarde (Rachel Roberts, 1927-1980), Count Andrenyi (Michael York), Mr. Hardman (Colin Blakely, 1930-1987) and Signor Bianchi (Martin Balsam, 1914-1996). The conductor was Pierre Paul Michel (Jean-Pierre Cassel). One night with the train en route, Mr. Ratchett was murdered. When Poirot learns this, he begins an immediate investigation in the hopes of finding the murderer before the train reaches its next scheduled stop. As Poirot questions the passengers, he is amazed that many of them may share something in common from many years earlier. Tension on board mounts when the train becomes trapped following an avalanche covering the tracks ahead of it. Before the tracks can be cleared, can Poirot solve this very mysterious murder on board the Orient Express? You'll have to watch this very well made film to understand the mystery. In addition to Albert Finney's Oscar nomination for Best Actor, "Murder on the Orient Express" received four other nominations including Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Original Score and Best Adapted Screenplay. Ingrid Bergman won her nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Overall, I rate this outstanding film with 5 out of 5 stars. It is a tribute to the great mystery and literary skills that Agatha Christie shared with the world in her many novels. I highly recommend the purchase of this film that is being released on DVD, which, thankfully, is in widescreen format.Read more ›
While the movie is a faithful adaptation of Agatha Christie's book, Albert Finney's portrayal of the quirky but brilliant Hercule Poirot is disappointing. Even those who are not familiar with David Suchet's interpretation will be disappointed if they have read many of the Poirot mysteries. Gone are most of Poirot's most obvious traits--his enormous vanity, his charm, his fastidiousness. If Albert Finney was familiar with Agatha Christie's character at all before the movie, it was only a very slight aquaintance. The rest of the cast is impeccable--Sean Connery, Lauren Bacall, Ingred Bergman--the list goes on and on. While some parts of the story have been changed, they are only slight changes and the movie remains true to the spirit and story of the book.
Albert Finney's Poirot does not hold a candle to David Souchet's excellent Poirot as seen recently in the new 2010 version of 'Murder on the Orient Express' recently broadcasted in N. America on PBS' "Mystery Theatre". The cast are not much better. Sean Connery seems bored with it all. The dark foreboding end to the 2010 version, with Poirot in a terrible moral quandry, is much more in keeping with the dilemna created when those who have been terribly wronged take justice into their own hands. It is a good interpretation and much better than the typical 'American' ending presented in this version.