Let me specify: I’m going to talk about the 1974 Murder on the Orient Express directed by Sidney Lumet (the same director of 12 angry men, 1957, and Dog Day afternoon, 1975, just to name a couple of his movies) starring Albert Finney as Poirot and an endless list of stars (most of them of a certain age) including Sean Connery, Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman, Vanessa Redgrave, Anthony Perkins (who, like in Psycho, is an insecure man and dresses like a woman!), Richard Widmark, and various others.
And the director and the cast are exactly what makes this movie interesting! Sidney Lumet did everything in his power in order not to bore the viewer. Forced to shoot in a train, he placed the camera in impossible spots: attached to the wheels of the train, flying above it on a helicopter, at the level of a cup of tea in the restaurant wagon… And in the endless series of interrogations of the various suspects Lumet does not limit himself to the standard shot – reverse shot! For example, Poirot’s dialogue with Ingrid Bergman is a five minute long take (which ends a little abruptly, to be honest).
All the actors are a joy to watch and listen to. Sean Connery, the most famous of all at the time thanks to his various James Bond movies, toys with his Scottish accent. Lauren Bacall enjoys her role as the puppet master of the story. Anthony Perkins is very charismatic and plays a character practically made for him. Richard Widmark, who accepted the part in order to to get to know all the stars of the cast, is the perfect vulgar American businessman. And I could go on!
As for the story… is there anything to say? Is there anybody who doesn’t know it yet? You may like it or not, and perhaps it’s one of the most convoluted plots in the whole bibliography by Agatha Christie, but at least we can say that Lumet tries to help his audience with an introduction showing the tragic kidnapping of Daisy Armstrong which will prove crucial to solve the mystery. Agatha Christie didn’t do it in her novel!
In short, I think that this movie deserves being watched beyond its plot: the actors and the direction are really amazing! It lasts two hours or so, which is inevitable given the high number of main characters and the need and will for all the movie stars to shine! If you can, get it and give it a chance. Ciao!