Agatha Christie, Sidney Lumet, Ingrid Bergman, Sean Connery, Albert Finney, what could possibly go wrong? Well, it wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t as good as I expected. I haven’t read the book, but I have the feeling that the story is too complex to be translated into a 2-hour theatrical release. It’s still a great whodunnit though and one of the most well-known adaptations of Agatha Christie’s books.
The story starts by informing us about a tragic incident in 1930. A young girl was kidnapped and then found murdered even though ransom for her life was paid. Five years later, the Belgian detective Hercule Poirot takes the Orient Express to London accompanied by all sorts of interesting people. While travelling through Yugoslavia, one of the passengers is found murdered and in the meantime, the train stops because of a snowstorm. Poirot takes over investigation and is determined to find who is the killer among the passengers.The story is as challenging and intriguing as it can possibly be. Everyone is a suspect, but who had the means and the motive to commit the murder? As Poirot questions passenger after passenger, it seems that many of them had a motive and connections with the kidnapping and murder of Daisy Armstrong 5 years ago make things even more complex.
Of course, we have Agatha Christie to thank for the story, but what about the rest of the film? What about acting, directing, cinematography and music? Well, unfortunately, none of these is as expected. The cast consists of some of the greatest actors of the time, but Albert Finney seems unconvincing as Poirot. I’m struggling to understand how he got an Oscar nomination. Ingrid Bergman is good, but still not good enough for the Oscar she won. If there is one that stands out for me, this is Lauren Bacall as the intolerable Mrs. Hubbard. Anthony Perkins is very good too. Murder on the Orient Express, is far from Sidney Lumet’s best pictures (12 Angry Men, Network). I got tired of seeing the train moving on after each scene. The screenplay has its flaws too. For several suspects, Poirot seems to arrive at conclusions without sufficient evidence yet nobody argues with him. Surely, as I said above, it wasn’t an easy task to adapt such a novel. It’s still a very easy watch, that keeps you thinking until the final moments when the quite unexpected events concerning the murder are revealed.