‘Murder on the Orient Express’ (1974) (Film)


Please feel free to comment on my review.

Albert Finney as Hercule Poriot on the Orient Express

Here is the John Brabourne/Richard Goodwin era of Agatha Christie!

Before we had many Miss Marples in Joan Hickson, Geraldine McEwan and Julia McKenzie; before we had David Suchet’s Poriot; and before we had the latest Poriot films starring and directed by Kenneth Branagh, we had these! Four movies produced by John Brabourne and Richard Goodwin. 😀

I purchased the ‘Agatha Christie Murder Mystery’ DVD collection for my Mum on her birthday in March 2012. This collection of four Agatha Christie film adaptations is an interesting bunch. There’s no consistent actor playing Poriot in three of these films and there is only one Miss Marple film here.

I don’t know much about John Brabourne and Richard Goodwin as film producers, but it was interesting to see these Agatha Christie movies as quaint film adaptations of her works. They might be slow and leisurely paced for their time, but they must’ve been so popular when they were made.

Like I said, the films have different actors playing the main characters. ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ stars Albert Finney as Poriot; ‘Death on the Nile’ stars Peter Ustinov as Poriot, ‘The Mirror Crack’d’ stars Angela Lansbury as Miss Marple and ‘Evil Under The Sun’ stars Peter Ustinov as Poriot.

I hope to share my thoughts on these movies and how they compare to the modern day standards of adapting Agatha Christie’s original book works into film/TV productions. Will I find these films impressive or will I find them really average? I hope to find some enjoyment in each of the four films.

The first of these films is of course ‘Murder on the Orient Express’, starring Albert Finney as Hercule Poriot. I purchased the 1974 film again for my Mum one Christmas in 2017 and on a separate DVD. 🙂

Back in November of that year, my parents and I went to see the 2017 film ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ at the cinema. It was interesting to compare the differences of those two films for the story.

I didn’t realise I purchased the 1974 film again for my Mum on Christmas Day back in 2017 as we saw it before in the ‘Agatha Christie Murder Mystery’ DVD collection. But we still enjoyed the film. 🙂

Albert Finney delivers an intriguing and eccentric performance as Poriot. It’s not at all like how Kenneth Branagh played Poriot in his film version of ‘Murder on the Orient Express’, which I enjoyed.

In this version of ‘Murder on the Orient Express’, Albert Finney’s Poriot is very confident and expressive. Sometimes he can be a little over-the-top when he’s investigating the murder case here.

Just so you know what it’s about, ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ has Poriot aboard the Orient Express train from Istanbul where the murder of an American tycoon takes place. Who did the deed?

The murder victim is stabbed twelve times. The American tycoon of course is Richard Widmark as Mr. Ratchett. But it turns out that he committed a crime far worse from five years ago in the tale. 😮

I like how the film opens with that crime being committed five years ago in a New York country house before we get to the ‘murder on the Orient Express’ itself. The 2017 film didn’t do it properly.

The film also features Lauren Bacall as Mrs. Hubbard; Martin Balsam (who was in Alfred Hitchcock‘s ‘Psycho’) as Bianchi and Ingrid Bergman as the shy Swedish missionary Greta Ohlsson. I’ve seen Ingrid Bergman in a number of 1940s movies.

She was in films like 1941’s ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’ as well as ‘Casablanca’ and 1944’s ‘Gaslight’. 🙂 Ingrid Bergman won an award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role in this certain film, didn’t you know? 😀

There’s also Jean-Pierre-Cassel as Pierre Paul Michel; John Gielgud as the victim’s impassive butler Edward Beddoes and Anthony Perkins (who was also in Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Psycho’) as Hector McQueen.

There’s Jacqueline Bisset as Countess Helen Andrenyi and Michael York as Count Rudolf Andreyni. I’ve seen Michael York before as he played Joseph the Baptist in the ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ mini-series. 🙂

Former James Bond actor Sean Connery stars in the film as Indian army Colonel Arbuthnot along with Vanessa Redgrave as the English rose Mary Debenham. Could these two be lovers in the film? 🙂

There’s Wendy Hiller as Princess Natalia Dragomiroff as well as Rachel Roberts as Hildegarde Schmidt. A lot of the actors I’m not very familiar with in this film, but they’ve been pretty enjoyable.

The film also features Colin Blakely as Cyrus B. Hardman, George Coulouris as Dr. Constantine and Denis Quilley as Antonio Foscarelli. There’s even Vernon Dobtcheff as a concierge in this movie. 😀

What I noticed in terms of how different the 1974 film is to the 2017 film, is that the film is tamer. Most of the film is set inside the Orient Express itself. None of the characters get to go outside at all.

And like I said at the beginning, the film tends to move at a leisurely pace when Poriot is interrogating the murder suspects one by one. There’s also less gore and violence featured in this! :!

In terms of the film’s ending, Hercule Poriot seems to be a know-it-all as he explains the actions of each individual and how he puts the pieces of the puzzle together to solve the murder. So intriguing!

This wasn’t like the 2017 film since the Poriot in that seemed vulnerable and he was struggling to solve the murder. I’m not sure which is better. I believe the 1974 film might be closer to the book. 😐

The actual flashback scene of the murder being committed takes its time in a leisurely pace as well unlike the 2017 film where it seemed to be quick in a flash. Again, not sure which one is better here.

I also found the 2017 film had Poriot struggling to decide on what to do with the outcome of solving the mystery which isn’t depicted in the 1974 film. In fact, everything seems to be okay by the end. 😐

It seemed that the consequences of the murdered actions were left unaddressed. Poriot seemed to accept it as okay in the 1974 film. Some of you will know what I’m talking about regarding story terms.

It’s interesting how these film adaptations of ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ get handled so differently. As I said, the 1947 film version might be closer to the book compared to the 2017 movie.

I enjoyed the 1974 film of ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ very much. It was a struggle to get a grip on which character was who in the story after watching the 2017 film and there is a lot to take in! 😀

I need to read the original Agatha Christie book of ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ sometime soon. It would help me to understand the story and its TV/film adaptations. Otherwise, an enjoyable movie!

The DVD special features are as follows. There’s a theatrical trailer for the film.

‘Murder on the Orient Express’ (1974) rating – 7/10

The next story is

Return to The World of Agatha Christie
Return to Drama

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.