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miercuri, 25 octombrie 2017

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie and adapted for the big screen

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie and adapted for the big screen

Another version of this note and thoughts on other books are available at:

This is a new note on an old story.
I have seen this adaptation again and therefore a new look on the work, with different angles to consider.

First of all, the cast was superb and normally it could not have been any better:

-          Albert Finney in the lead role of Hercule Poirot
-          Supported by a stellar group of actors and actresses- John Gielgud, Sean Connery, Jean- Pierre Cassel, Anthony Perkins, Michael York and Richard Widmark
-          Nominated for her supporting role- Ingrid Bergman and Lauren Bacall, Jacqueline Bisset and Vanessa Redgrave
-          To top it all, the director was Sidney Lumet

I have read an excellent book by the director, called Making Movies in which Murder on the Orient Express is mentioned.
But I was more interested in Dog Day Afternoon and other details than the making of the expensive – if I have it right- train cars for this adaptation.

To summarize from the start:

-          It was a disappointment

Albert Finney was nominated for an Oscar and BAFTA, but it is hard for me to see any reason why this performance was noticed and acclaimed.
Turning this issue around, I must be unable to see great acting.

Sure, I did like Albert Finney in Erin Brockovitch, Big fish, Miller’s Crossing, Tom Jones and The Dresser.
Especially the latter, where he is really magnificent, together with his partner Tom Courtenay, in one of the best pictures I know.

When he did not choose to take the role he was offered- in Lawrence of Arabia- he has created a new star in Peter O’Toole.
But in Murder on the Orient Express his choice was unfortunate.

The Hercule Poirot that we can see here is a weird, seemingly diseased Poirot, but searching the net I find another opinion:

-          “The performance is brilliant, and it’s high comedy.”

And this was the conclusion of the ultimate film critic Roger Ebert and surely a good number of others.

Otherwise, the intrigue is fascinating and the plot could not be any more challenging and therefore entertaining.
A murder mystery at its best.

To give an example, Bianchi is a friend of the detective and in his official capacity is present at the interviews that follow the murder…
After each man or woman leaves the room, he addresses Poirot with an exclamation and the certainty that he knows:

-          Surely, he is the murderer!
-          She must have done it! And then again:
-          He had the reasons and he is the assassin!

And so on, giving evidence that indeed, the mystery is complete, everyone appears to hate the victim and may have killed him.
Without saying anything else, I will just add that the solution is difficult to arrive at and it is really unexpected.

Unless, of course you know all about crime and psychology.