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Murder on the Orient Express (1974)

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Movie Info & Cast

Synopsis

Like many of Agatha Christie's mysteries, Murder on the Orient Express is predicated on an actual event, in this case the Lindbergh kidnapping. In the movie, everyone on board the Orient Express seems to have concluded that hateful financier Ratchett (Richard Widmark) was behind the abduction and murder of the infant daughter of a famed aviatrix. Thus, when Ratchett is himself found murdered, everyone is suspect. Normally, the police would handle the investigation, but the train has been stalled by a snowslide halfway between Istanbul and Paris. Thus, it's up to the insufferable but brilliant Belgian detective Hercule Poirot (an unrecognizable Albert Finney) to activate his little grey cells and determine who's guilty. Among the suspects are colorful characters played by Lauren Bacall, Martin Balsam, Jacqueline Bisset, Sean Connery, Wendy Hiller, John Gielgud, Anthony Perkins, Vanessa Redgrave, and Ingrid Bergman, whose performance won her a third Academy Award. (In her acceptance speech, Bergman apologized for her win, insisting that Day for Night's Valentina Cortese deserved the prize.) The first and best in a long line of contemporary Christie adaptations, the film scores on atmosphere, period detail, and richness of characterization.~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

Cast

  • Albert Finney
  • Lauren Bacall
  • Martin Balsam
  • Ingrid Bergman
  • Jacqueline Bisset
  • Jean-Pierre Cassel
  • Sean Connery
  • John Gielgud
  • Wendy Hiller
  • Anthony Perkins

Did You Know?

Trivia

  • Upon accepting her Oscar for this movie, Ingrid Bergman apologized to fellow actress Valentina Cortese, who was nominated for Day for Night (1973), saying that she deserved the award more.
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Goofs

  • At the train station, the oriental women wearing kimonos are clearly made up as Japanese, but can be heard speaking Cantonese.
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Quotes

    • A.D.C.: Ah, here's your ticket, Monsieur Poirot. I'm afraid you've still got another hour.
    • Hercule Poirot: Then, please, do not wait.
    • A.D.C.: Not wait? Hah. After all you've done for us, Monsieur Poirot? Ha ha. Oh. Uh, my general's orders were to ensure your safe departure. He also wished to thank you again for saving the honour of the British garrison in Jordan. The Brigadier's, uh, confession was opportune. I say, how did you do it? Was it the old, uh, thumbscrew, you know, the rack, huh?... Oh. Well, uh, you'll be able to rest as soon as you get to Stamboul. The, uh, the Church of Santa Sophia is absolutely magnificent.
    • Hercule Poirot: You have seen it?
    • A.D.C.: No.
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Metacritic

75

Murder on the Orient Express is a splendidly entertaining movie of the sort that isn’t made anymore: It’s a classical whodunit, with all the clues planted and all of them visible, and it’s peopled with a large and expensive collection of stars.

Metacritic review by Roger Ebert
Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times
80

No matter how good the performer you can’t escape Christie’s leisurely approach to characterisation — simple concoctions of quirk, guilt and red herring. But Lumet is having loads of credible fun with the formula, keeping up a genuine sense of claustrophobia in this isolated railway car surrounded by crisp white snow.

Metacritic review by Ian Nathan
Ian Nathan
Empire
90

Like the lovely, extravagantly overemphasized nineteen-thirties' costumes and production designed by Tony Walton, Murder on the Orient Express is much less a literal re-creation of a type of thirties movie than an elaborate and witty tribute that never for a moment condescends to the subject.

Metacritic review by Vincent Canby
Vincent Canby
The New York Times