Agatha Christie refused to sell the rights for a film adaptation of her Murder on the Orient Express for several decades. When finally she gave her permission for the story to be transferred to the big screen, it was equipped with one of the starriest casts assembled in a film for many years.
Albert Finney takes the role of the Belgian detective Hercule Poirot who is asked to investigate the mysterious death of American industrialist Ratchett (Richard Widmark) on the Orient Express from Istanbul to Paris in 1934. Bianchi (Martin Balsam), an executive with the railway, wants the murder solved before the train reaches its destination. However, discovering who has stabbed Ratchett a dozen times means that Poirot has to quiz a list of suspects played by some of the cream of Hollywood including Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman (who won her third Oscar for this role, this time as Best Supporting Actress), Jacqueline Bisset, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Sean Connery, John Gielgud, Vanessa Redgrave, Wendy Hiller, Anthony Perkins, Rachel Roberts, Michael York, Dennis Quilley, George Coulouris and Colin Blakely.
From the opening moments of the film, which depict a fictionalised version of the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby (one of the great scandals of the 1930s in which someone kidnapped the child of the first transatlantic aviator Charles Lindbergh) to the moment of the fascinating denoument, Murder on the Orient Express makes full use of its ensemble cast. When Bergman first started filming on the movie she was thrilled by her fellow actors: ‘I felt absolutely awed when we first gathered together for a cast and crew party. I hadn’t felt this excited since my first days in Hollywood’.
UK | 128 minutes | 1974
Director: Sidney Lumet
Writer: Paul Dehn, based on the novel by Agatha Christie
Albert Finney as Hercule Poirot
Vanessa Redgrave as Mary Debenham
Richard Widmark as Mr. Ratchett
John Gielgud as Mr. Beddoes
Sean Connery as Colonel Arbuthnot
Wendy Hiller as Prinzessin Dragomiroff
Anthony Perkins as Hector MacQueen
George Coulouris as Doctor
Denis Quilley as Foscarelli
Martin Balsam as Signor Bianchi
Colin Blakely as Mr. Cyrus Hardman
Rachel Roberts as Hildegarde Schmidt
Lauren Bacall as Mrs. Harriet Belinda Hubbard
Ingrid Bergman as Greta Ohlson
Jacqueline Bisset as Countess Andrenyi
Jean-Pierre Cassel as Pierre Paul Michel
Michael York as Count Andrenyi
Jeremy Lloyd as A.D.C.
John Moffatt as Chief Attendant
Vernon Dobtcheff as Concierge