Today! Because a repulsive murderer has himself been repulsively, and, perhaps deservedly, murdered –
Murder on the Orient Express (1974)
Directed by Sidney Lumet
Starring Albert Finney, Lauren Bacall, Sean Connery, Ingrid Bergman, Anthony Perkins, Vanessa Redgrave (x2), Martin Balsam, John Gielgud, Michael York, Wendy Hiller, Richard Widmark, Jacqueline Bisset, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Rachel Roberts, Colin Blakely, George Coulouris
Sidney Lumet’s all-star take on the Agatha Christie classic is still the definitive big screen take on her work. Most Christie novels are a little too uncinematic to make for really great movies, and thus there have been far more and better TV versions of her stories than films (the Branagh Orient Express from 2017 is also pretty good, so hopes are high for Death on the Nile). But this one has everything – all the stars as in the heavens turned out for this film, a terrific locked-in train set that heightens the tension and suspense one scene after the other, a script where basically every line is vital to fully telling the tale, and Finney’s masterful work as Poirot tying the whole thing together. Widmark allegedly signed on in the relatively brief role as the doomed villain Ratchett (The book’s been out for 80 years! No complaining!) just so he could meet the other stars of the picture. Ingrid Bergman won her third Oscar for essentially one scene of significant dialogue! Sean Connery’s epic mustache nearly trumps Poirot’s!
Nominated for six Oscars (including a nod to Finney) and nine BAFTAs (with wins for Bergman and Gielgud), Orient Express was hardly underappreciated in its day, but did anyone really acknowledge the times when you could see Bacall and Bergman on screen together with a Best Bogart Minus Bogart award? A To Have and Always Have Paris crossover film basically came into existence in those brief moments!
And Vanessa Redgrave becomes the second woman to appear on this list more than once, along with Whoopi! The #392 Mission: Impossible co-star was sort of the bad guy in that caper, and is sort of the bad guy (or is she??) here as well. Spotlight!