October 9, 2011

Movie Monday: Murder on the Orient Express

Do you like all-star casts? Engrossing plots with twists and turns? Beautifully-shot period pieces with gorgeous costumes and snappy dialogue?

Then you will love this week's Movie Monday feature:

Source: google.com via Jaci on Pinterest

I know it's a "holiday" and probably no one is in the blog world today, but I needed to keep with my theme and there was NO way I was going to let this one pass by.

When it comes to mysteries, you can't do much better than Agatha Christie. She wrote dozens of fantastic mystery novels, including the one on which this movie is based (and very closely follows).

The movie opens showing us 6-year-old Daisy Armstrong being kidnapped out of her wealthy Long Island home. A montage follows where we learn about her parents' distress, multiple people under suspicion, the payment of a ransom, and then ultimately, little Daisy being found - murdered.

We then jump ahead 5 years, and go from America to Istanbul. We're taken to a train station, where we see a diverse group of characters board the same coach of the Orient Express: a Swedish missionary, a high-maintenance American widow, a Hungarian diplomat and his wife, an exiled Russian princess and her maid, an American theatrical agent, an Italian-American car salesman, a British secretary, a Welsh army officer, a brusque American businessman, his timid, twitchy secretary and aloof butler, and last but not least, world-renowned Belgian detective Hercule Poirot.

Their first night aboard-train, the train gets stuck in a high snow-drift. Throughout the night, various interruptions wake the passengers.

The next day, the passengers on the train awake to find the businessman has been brutally murdered. The owner of the train, afraid of his business being associated with an unsolved murder, asks Poirot to find the killer before workers come to dig the train out. Poirot agrees, and begins investigating.

Upon examining the scene of the crime, he utters words I've never heard before or since in murder mysteries: "There are too many clues in this room."

Shortly he discovers that the murdered businessman was actually the criminal mastermind behind the kidnapping and murder of little Daisy. And as he interviews the other passengers on the train, he finds out they all have some kind of connection to Daisy or her family.

Anyone could have done it. And time is short - the workers will be there by the end of the day. Will he find the killer in time?

Hercule Poirot is perhaps Agatha Christie's most famous character. He's been portrayed by many fine actors, but in this version by Albert Finney, he's probably best-personified. Poirot is brilliant, cerebral, foppish, and in this instance, over-dramatizes and over-emotes in order to off-foot the possible killer as well as intimidate the (mostly) wealthy and high-society passengers.

He, of course, gets the best lines in the movie, but it's so rapid and heavily-accented that you need to pay close attention to catch them.

The rest of the cast is fantastic as well: Sean Connery, Ingrid Bergman, Anthony Hopkins, an absolutely fabulous Lauren Bacall who steals every scene she's in. It's so much fun watching them all.

Also, I have to brag a little bit, but to date I am the only person I know to work out the solution before it was revealed. It's not that easy, but I think it's possible. The best part, of course, is that even when you know the solution, the movie still has re-watchability. It's one of my favorites, I can watch it over and over. You will, too.


  1. Yes! This is one of my favorite older movies. I love Agatha Christie novels so I jump at the chance to watch those movies - LOVE!


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