One of Dame Agatha Christie's most well-known and well-received murder mysteries. To date it has been used as the basis for one feature film, one TV movie, and a BBC radio series.
The Armstrongs, a prominent family full of army officials, actresses and royals, encounter tragedy when their young daughter, Daisy, is kidnapped and held for ransom. After several attempts to rescue her are unsuccessful, the family pays the ransom. Daisy's body is found soon afterwards. This background story was based on the infamous kidnapping and murder of aviator Charles Lindbergh's son.
Roughly five years later, famous Belgian detective Hercule Poirot is travelling across Europe on the Orient Express. Despite the fact that it's winter (which is when most people usually don't travel), the train is almost filled to capacity. Poirot is able to secure a berth on the Calais coach, which he shares with a group of eccentric characters.
On the second morning of the trip, the passengers awaken to find that the train has become blocked in a snowdrift and that one of their fellow passengers has been stabbed to death in his compartment. Although he is on vacation, Poirot agrees to help with the case and soon makes some interesting discoveries about the identity of the murdered man and what everyone else on the train has in common.
The first film adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express was released in 1974. It was directed by Sidney Lumet and featured one of the biggest "all-star" casts of its time. The film also replicates the novel's storyline almost exactly. It's been said that Christie ranked this adaptation among her favourites.
Cast:Albert Finney as Hercule Poirot
Lauren Bacall as Mrs. Hubbard
Martin Balsam as Senor Bianchi
Ingrid Bergman as Greta Olson
Jacqueline Bisset as the Countess Andrenyi
Jean-Pierre Cassel as Pierre Paul Michel
Sean Connery as Colonel Arbothnot
John Gielgud as Beddoes
Wendy Hiller as the Princess Dragomiroff
Anthony Perkins as Hector MacQueen
Vanessa Redgrave as Mary Debanham
Rachel Roberts as Hildegarde Schmidt
Richard Widmark as Mr. Ratchett
Michael York as the Count Andrenyi
Bergman won an Oscar for her performace (which required her to fake a heavier Swedish accent than her own - in actuality she was far more proficient in English than her character). Finney was also nominated for an Oscar.
The film also contains one of the most blatant examples of the typecasting of Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates. Christie's original characterization of MacQueen mentioned nothing about his history or his relationship with his mother. In fact, MacQueen never uses the word "mother" at any point during the novel. The film, however, includes scenes where MacQueen recounts his mother's death when he was a child and the way it impacted him. Another character also says that MacQueen cried out for his mother in his sleep. The novel does not make any reference to MacQueen having difficulty speaking, although in the film he stutters regularly (as Bates did). It's also interesting to note that Martin Balsam, who played Milton Arbogast in Psycho, also appears in this film. Balsam and Perkins have few scenes together, however, and the film's references to Psycho do not include Balsam.
The film has a running time of 128 minutes. The VHS version splits the film into two cassettes. The DVD release contains a documentary that details the making of the film.
The novel was made into a television movie in 2001.