Murder on the Orient Express


2h 7m 1974
Murder on the Orient Express

Brief Synopsis

Belgian detective Hercule Poirot investigates the murder of a mysterious businessman during a luxurious train ride.

Film Details

Also Known As
crime de l'Orient-Express
MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama
Crime
Mystery
Thriller
Period
Adaptation
Release Date
1974

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 7m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Synopsis

Brilliant Belgian detective Hercule Poirot finds himself on board the Orient Express where everyone seems to have concluded that hateful financier Ratchett was behind the abduction and murder of the infant daughter of a famed aviatrix. Thus, when Ratchett is himself found murdered, everyone is suspect.

Film Details

Also Known As
crime de l'Orient-Express
MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama
Crime
Mystery
Thriller
Period
Adaptation
Release Date
1974

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 7m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Award Wins

Best Supporting Actress

1974
Ingrid Bergman

Award Nominations

Best Actor

1974
Albert Finney

Best Cinematography

1974

Best Costume Design

1974

Best Score

1974

Best Writing, Screenplay

1975

Articles

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).
C-128m.

by Roger Fristoe
Murder On The Orient Express

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). C-128m. by Roger Fristoe

Wendy Hiller, 1912-2003


Dame Wendy Hiller, one of Britain's most distinguished actresses of screen and stage and whose career highlights include being George Bernard Shaw's favorite leading lady, and an Oscar winner for her performance as a lonely spinster in Separate Tables (1958), died at her home in Beaconsfield, England, on May 14. She was 90.

Wendy Hiller was born on August 15, 1912, in Bramhall, and raised in Manchester, where her father was a cotton-cloth manufacturer. Educated at Winceby House, a girl's school in Sussex, Hiller found herself drawn to the theater, and after completing secondary school, Wendy joined the Manchester Repertory Theater, where she was a bit player and later an assistant stage manager. In 1934, she earned critical acclaim and stardom when Manchester Rep cast her as the lead in the popular drama, Love on the Dole, written by her future husband, Ronald Gow. The play was such a hit, that Hiller would repeat her role in London and triumphed on Broadway.

Back on the London stage, she was playing the lead in George Bernard Shaw's St. Joan, when she caught the eye of the playwright himself. He cast her as the beloved cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle in Pygmalion (contemporary audiences will no doubt be aware of the musical version - My Fair Lady) on stage in 1936 and in Anthony Asquith's screen adaptation two years later co-starring Leslie Howard. The film was a smash, and Hiller earned an Academy Award nomination for her striking and original Eliza. Shaw would cast her again as an heiress turned Salvation Army worker in the classic Major Barbara for both stage and the 1941 film version.

The ensuing years could very well have been Hiller's time for screen stardom, yet despite her blazing acting ability, regal presence and distinctive voice, her film forays were too few, as she concentrated on the stage and spending time with her husband Gow and two children. Still, when she did make a film appearance, it was often memorable: a materialist turned romantic in Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's glorious, I Know Where I'm Going! (1945); a lonely hotelkeeper in Delbert Mann's Separate Tables (1958), which earned her an Academy Award as best supporting actress; an obsessive mother in Jack Cardiff's Sons and Lovers (1960); a unfaltering wife to Sir Thomas More in Fred Zinneman's brilliant A Man for All Seasons (1966); and as a compassionate nurse who cares for the deformed David Merrick in David Lynch's The Elephant Man (1980).

Ill health became an issue for Hiller in her later years, but she made one elegant return to the camera when she was cast as a former society beauty who is interviewed 50 years after her fame in Moira Armstrong's The Countess Alice (1992). In a performance that was touching, but never maudlin, Wendy Hiller proved that few could match her for presence, integrity and dignity. Her contribution to her craft did not go unnoticed, as she was made a Dame of the British Empire in 1975. She is survived by her son, Anthony, and daughter, Ann.

by Michael T. Toole

Wendy Hiller, 1912-2003

Dame Wendy Hiller, one of Britain's most distinguished actresses of screen and stage and whose career highlights include being George Bernard Shaw's favorite leading lady, and an Oscar winner for her performance as a lonely spinster in Separate Tables (1958), died at her home in Beaconsfield, England, on May 14. She was 90. Wendy Hiller was born on August 15, 1912, in Bramhall, and raised in Manchester, where her father was a cotton-cloth manufacturer. Educated at Winceby House, a girl's school in Sussex, Hiller found herself drawn to the theater, and after completing secondary school, Wendy joined the Manchester Repertory Theater, where she was a bit player and later an assistant stage manager. In 1934, she earned critical acclaim and stardom when Manchester Rep cast her as the lead in the popular drama, Love on the Dole, written by her future husband, Ronald Gow. The play was such a hit, that Hiller would repeat her role in London and triumphed on Broadway. Back on the London stage, she was playing the lead in George Bernard Shaw's St. Joan, when she caught the eye of the playwright himself. He cast her as the beloved cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle in Pygmalion (contemporary audiences will no doubt be aware of the musical version - My Fair Lady) on stage in 1936 and in Anthony Asquith's screen adaptation two years later co-starring Leslie Howard. The film was a smash, and Hiller earned an Academy Award nomination for her striking and original Eliza. Shaw would cast her again as an heiress turned Salvation Army worker in the classic Major Barbara for both stage and the 1941 film version. The ensuing years could very well have been Hiller's time for screen stardom, yet despite her blazing acting ability, regal presence and distinctive voice, her film forays were too few, as she concentrated on the stage and spending time with her husband Gow and two children. Still, when she did make a film appearance, it was often memorable: a materialist turned romantic in Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's glorious, I Know Where I'm Going! (1945); a lonely hotelkeeper in Delbert Mann's Separate Tables (1958), which earned her an Academy Award as best supporting actress; an obsessive mother in Jack Cardiff's Sons and Lovers (1960); a unfaltering wife to Sir Thomas More in Fred Zinneman's brilliant A Man for All Seasons (1966); and as a compassionate nurse who cares for the deformed David Merrick in David Lynch's The Elephant Man (1980). Ill health became an issue for Hiller in her later years, but she made one elegant return to the camera when she was cast as a former society beauty who is interviewed 50 years after her fame in Moira Armstrong's The Countess Alice (1992). In a performance that was touching, but never maudlin, Wendy Hiller proved that few could match her for presence, integrity and dignity. Her contribution to her craft did not go unnoticed, as she was made a Dame of the British Empire in 1975. She is survived by her son, Anthony, and daughter, Ann. by Michael T. Toole

Quotes

Ah, here's your ticket, Monsieur Poirot. I'm afraid you've still got another hour.
- A.D.C.
Then, please, do not wait.
- Hercule Poirot
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.
- A.D.C.
You have seen it?
- Hercule Poirot
No.
- A.D.C.
Mr. Ratchett, I have made enough money to satisfy both my needs and my caprices. I take only such cases now as interest me, and to be frank, my interest in your case is, uh... dwindling.
- Hercule Poirot
Only by interrogating the other passengers could I hope to see the light, but when I began to question them, the light, as Macbeth would have said, thickened.
- Hercule Poirot
Oh, yes, sir, the Italian gentleman.
- Beddoes
Eh, does he speak English?
- Hercule Poirot
A kind of English, sir. I think he learnt it in a place called Chicago.
- Beddoes
You mean you saw the man? You can identify the murderer?
- Bianchi
I mean nothing of the kind. I mean there was a man in my compartment last night. It was pitch dark, of course, and my eyes were closed in terror--
- Mrs. Hubbard
Then how did you know it was a man?
- Bianchi
Because I've enjoyed very warm relationships with both my husbands.
- Mrs. Hubbard
With your eyes closed.
- Bianchi
That helped.
- Mrs. Hubbard

Trivia

Real Orient Express cars were used in the film.

Ingrid Bergman played Mrs. Frankweiler in _From The Mixed Up Files Of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (1973)_ . Lauren Bacall played Mrs. Frankweiler in the 1995 made-for-TV version.

Virtually all of Ingrid Bergman's Oscar-winning performance is contained in a single scene: her interrogation by Poirot, captured in a single continuous take, nearly five minutes long.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States March 1979

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1974

Released in United States March 1979 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition (The 50-Hour Mighty MovieMarathon: Mystery and Suspense) March 14-30, 1979.)

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1974