“Only by interrogating the other passengers could I hope to see the light.”
Belgian detective Hercules Poirot (Albert Finney) investigates the murder of a businessman (Richard Widmark) on the Orient Express.
Sidney Lumet’s adaptation of Agatha Christie’s celebrated mystery is a nostalgic throw-back to the early days of Hollywood, when all-star casts routinely graced the screen together in ensemble films such as Grand Hotel (1932) and Dinner at Eight (1933). Indeed, film buffs will have a field day watching some of their favorite actors (including Lauren Bacall, Wendy Hiller, Sean Connery, Ingrid Bergman, Anthony Perkins, and others) in supporting roles. However, it’s Albert Finney who truly runs the show here: as the determined (and occasionally obnoxious) Hercules Poirot, Finney is literally unrecognizable. Unfortunately, Lumet indulges his screenplay a bit: it takes quite a while for all the characters to be introduced, and the final scenes linger far longer than necessary. Nonetheless, Murder on the Orient Express, which inspired two future Christie adaptations — Death on the Nile (1978) and Evil Under the Sun (1982) — remains a well-made detective flick, and should be seen by all film fanatics.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Albert Finney — nearly unrecognizable as Belgian detective Hercules Poirot
- Fine performances by a supporting cast of stars
- Lush, colorful 1930s set designs and costumes
- A satisfying and unexpected solution to the mystery
Yes. While over-long, this Academy Award-nominated murder mystery is a rare return to the all-star format of earlier Hollywood dramas.