Murder on the Orient Express (1974)

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Murder on the Orient Express Movie Review

Murder on the Orient Express is a 1974 mystery film directed by Sidney Lumet and starring Albert Finney, Lauren Bacall and Ingrid Bergman among others. It’s a solid, but flawed adaptation.

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Bianchi, Doctor, has it occurred to you that

there are too many clues in this room?

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Murder on the Orient Express Movie Review

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The book is one of Agatha Christie’s best works and I love it, but this cinematic adaptation was not all that great and I do think it is overrated. It is solid and very faithful in terms of story but it has its many problems.

I liked how faithfully it adapted the book and the storyline here is excellent and quite engaging to follow. I loved the ending and it was so well executed with the finale being phenomenal and the monologue from Poirot of course being fantastic. Those were great but I thought that the investigation itself was somewhat rushed in some instances.

Another problem is the pacing which is not all that great. The film definitely is involving, but I thought that the runtime of 130 minutes was too much for this particular story and thus the first act is awfully overdrawn. That beginning did not need to last for that long and the investigation scenes suffered because of it.

Let’s talk about the acting and the characters. I am going to comment upon most of them so here we go. Let’s first talk about the elephant in the room and get him out of the way. Hercule Poirot. Oh boy, this is not going to be pleasant. Albert Finney is horrible as Poirot. How did he receive an Oscar nomination baffles me.

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Murder on the Orient Express Movie Review

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He is just not Poirot. I guess he gave a good performance as he is a famous, good actor. But the characterization itself is awful and he yells too much, the voice is all wrong and only some of the mannerisms speak true to the actual book counterpart. Everything else is terrible here. David Suchet is infinitely better.

Lauren Bacall, on the other hand, is excellent and very memorable in her role. Ingrid Bergman is absolutely fantastic in a small role and I loved her as this Swedish, complex woman and I am glad that she got an Oscar for her performance. Thoroughly deserved.

Wendy Hiller is very good as Princess Dragomiroff and faithfully depicted. The same goes for Rachett and every other character as well. Only Poirot is the problem here and because he is at the center, that is why I give this movie a bad time, but all of the other players are amazing and this film truly has a spectacular ensemble cast. Sean Connery was also quite memorable and Anthony Perkins as McQueen is absolutely perfect casting for this interesting role and he did wonderfully here.

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Murder on the Orient Express Movie Review

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Murder on the Orient Express is very well scored with some memorable segments. But the cinematography is superb and I loved how the train looked and the stations too. It is very polished in quality and very much a cinematic work instead of a TV production. Sidney Lumet did a great job in the directorial chair as well. The film did deserve a win for Bergman, but a nod for Finney was unwarranted. However, the noms for cinematography, costumes and score are all very much deserved. It is in the end a pleasantly old-fashioned and mostly fine, but not great adaptation.

The 1974 cinematic adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express is a perfectly solid, but highly flawed one. The first act is overlong, but the score, costumes and cinematography are all excellent and deservedly Oscar nominated. The film is engaging, faithful to its source material and with a particularly spectacular ensemble cast with everyone being well cast and giving a great performance with Oscar-winning Ingrid Bergman being the highlight. But Albert Finney is the only weak link. He is just not Poirot. He doesn’t act or look like him at all. Very bad casting coupled with terrible characterization made the most important character feel alien here.

My Rating – 3.5

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Posted in 1970s, 1974, FILM DECADES, MOVIE REVIEWS, Mystery and tagged , , , , , , , , , , .

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