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Murder on the Orient Express
Remind Me

Murder on the Orient Express

Murder on the Orient Express (1974) set the standard in a trio of elegantly produced, all-star screen versions of Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot mysteries that also included Death on the Nile (1978) and Evil Under the Sun (1982). Bacall wrote in her autobiography that she was thrilled when director Sidney Lumet invited her to join "a blinding cast of star actors": Albert Finney (as Poirot), Ingrid Bergman, John Gielgud, Vanessa Redgrave, Sean Connery, Richard Widmark, Wendy Hiller, Michael York, Jacqueline Bisset, Anthony Perkins and Martin Balsam. For Bacall, the film topped even Designing Woman (1957) to become "the happiest work experience I'd had in my movie life since the beginning."

Christie's intricate plot, set in the mid-1930s, has Widmark being murdered on the famed passenger train, with each of the remaining stars becoming suspects under Finney's observant eye. Bacall's role is that of a wealthy, celebrated American actress traveling incognito under her married name. Her vulgar, abrasive character struck British critic Benny Green as "living proof of Oscar Wilde's theory that America went from barbarism to decadence without the intervening stage of civilization." When congratulated by a journalist on the effectiveness of her performance, Bacall reportedly responded, "Now I ask you, how could anyone not want to give of his/her best when put up against some of the finest talents of this century?"

Bergman won an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actress for her performance as a simple-minded nurse, increasing the irony that two other performers had taken the same award for films in which Bacall starred - Claire Trevor in Key Largo (1948) and Dorothy Malone in Written on the Wind (1956). Bacall received her only Oscar® nomination to date, in the same category, for The Mirror Has Two Faces (1996) - but lost to Juliette Binoche for The English Patient.

Producer: Richard Goodwin
Director: Sidney Lumet
Screenplay: Paul Dehn, Anthony Shaffer (uncredited), from novel by Agatha Christie
Production Design: Tony Walton
Art Direction: Jack Stephens
Costume Design: Tony Walton
Cinematography: Geoffrey Unsworth
Editing: Anne V. Coates
Original Music: Rodney Bennett
Cast: Albert Finney (Inspector Hercule Poirot), Lauren Bacall (Mrs. Hubbard), Martin Balsam (Bianchi), Ingrid Bergman (Greta Ohlsson), Jacqueline Bisset (Countess Andrenyi), Jean-Pierre Cassel (Pierre Paul Michel), Sean Connery (Colonel Arbuthnott), John Gielgud (Beddoes), Wendy Hiller (Princess Dragomiroff), Anthony Perkins (Hector McQueen), Vanessa Redgrave (Mary Debenham), Rachel Roberts (Hildegarde Schmidt), Richard Widmark (Ratchett), Michael York (Count Andrenyi).

by Roger Fristoe