MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS (1974 Britain)

murder-on-the-orient-express-trailer-titleRecently I have been so kind in these reviews that I have been bending over backwards (!). Why am I being so nice about them? I’d like to think that I am a man/woman of the world but where is my inner bitch?! I need to let hymn/her off the leash…The pace of the story was so slow that I continually ‘nodded off’, much to the horror of my wife, who had to keep pausing the dvd and skipping back to earlier scenes so that I could keep up. She couldn’t believe it.

Why was I so sedated? she demanded. After all, we have that old stand-by, a cosy murder mystery with an all-star cast from back in the day. What could possibly go wrong? Well, quite a lot really. All of Agatha Christie’s usual ingredients are in this one of course: a mysterious murder, the scope of suspects, the luxurious atmosphere (in the train of the title), the misleading clues, the little details to consider, Poirot’s interrogations and so on. But this is so convoluted and plodding that one doesn’t care whodunnit. As for the final solution, it is all so stupid and underwhelming. When the climax is finally reached (Oh please) I felt more like a witness to a gang rape…but with a knife and the most unlikely victim in the world.

As for the expository scenes, they go on for too long, unnecessarily adding to the length of a film that is too long and boring in the first place. As Poirot, Albert Finney looks and sounds ridiculous, kind of like Inspector Clouseau; he is horribly hammy and his accent is so thick that it is hard to understand what he’s saying. Most of the rest of the cast seem stagey and forced too. And above all else everyone acted suspicious right from the start. It was obvious what was obvious. Sir John Gielgud; he simply could never act on film with belief; his reputation was God-like but he couldn’t even hold the dagger properly in the stabbing scene, and as for glancing at the camera and crew behind it, he simply spoilt the moment. He may have been a theatrical legend but on the big screen I am never impressed with the old fool.

jacquelinebissetei1.9403The only Gielgud characteristic he ever brought to a role was that of a creep, for want of a better word. Speaking of creeps…Anthony Perkins. An absurd performance. He must have thought this was yet another Psycho sequel. He even cries out “mother!” at one stage. Then there’s Sean Connery, his usual bland self, no attempt to ever give the audience any other voice than that Scots accent. I can never believe any role he is in except Bond. He has no range. Has he ever been able to emote? Of coursh not. He’s Scotland’s answer to Clint Eastwood. He communicates with his eyebrows, not the rest of his being. As for Michael York, he is embarrassingly superficial. No surprise there. Vanessa Redgrave just gives adoring looks at 007’s moustache instead of a genuine performance. Maybe the script writer couldn’ t think of anything to do with most of the thespians. What else then?

Richard Widmark signed up only to meet the other cast members. I hope they exuded more spark off camera for him than the lifeless dummies do here. Lauren Bacall–ugly old bag even when she was young. More masculine than I could ever be. Humphrey Bogart’s widow was never going to add anything positive to this. Her dead husband’s trench coat had a more appealing presence. George Colouris– comb your hair, man! Martin Balsam–too American TV feel about him. Denis Quilley–too English to be Italian. Jacqueline Bisset–must have been included solely for ‘helping out’ the male audience in those pre-Viagra days.

Maybe the problem is Agatha Christie and her style. Her stuff works better in print than in an re-enactment. Or maybe without a jovial actor like Peter Ustinov in the lead role these stories just aren’t much fun to watch. I find Evil Under The Sun a far more enjoyable view than this. Maybe I don’t like this tale because Agatha C exploited the real life Lindbergh tragedy for her plot, and I find that to be rather distasteful. Meanwhile, Ingrid Bergman blows the rest of the miserable bunch off the screen. At least she tries to do what no one else can: save this juggernaut from crashing into a snow drift. But that happens too. (Exasperated sigh) I’m pulling the cord and disembarking at the next stop. Maybe the rest of you can stay on….

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Comments

  1. Nice ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you, dear. 🙂

    Like

  3. Sorry if I sound a little vulgar to anyone but who pissed in your cereal? This movie was given such high praise by the public critics and even Agatha Christie herself. She called Finney’s performance the closest (and best) she envisioned for the character of Poirot. You’re way off the mark with this film.

    Tip: next time you have trouble hearing the dialogue, put on the subtitles for the dear & hearing impaired.

    Like

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