Tag Archives: Vanessa Redgrave

The Set of 400: #374 – My Favorite Snowbound Train

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! Continue reading

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The Set of 400: #392 – My Favorite Drake Hotel, Chicago Plot Device

Today! Because you’ve never seen me very upset –

Mission: Impossible (1996)

Directed by Brian De Palma

Starring Tom Cruise, Jon Voight, Emmanuelle Beart, Ving Rhames, Jean Reno, Emilio Estevez, Kristin Scott Thomas, Vanessa Redgrave, Henry Czerny, Ingeborga Dapkunaite, John McLaughlin, Garrick Hagon

Ah, the glorious summer of 1996! While it was expected to be the big draw that season, and would only end up third behind ID4 and Twister, it proved to have the longest legs, cranking out sequels straight to the present day. And even though I think it’s fair to say the first one is no one’s choice for best film in the series, the De Palma outing does have a lot going for it. Because all the follow-ups would get helmed by action directors (I don’t care what else you might think of J.J. Abrams), this one stands out for the underlying suspense De Palma (at the end of his effectiveness as a director) brought to it, the first of many fake masks and double-crosses, and for that sequence where they break into Langley to steal the list. The effects may get bigger and wilder as the series goes on, but nothing will ever quite compare to panicky Cruise quietly dangling from a rope as Jean Reno kills that rat. Holy wow. Sure, the plot is convoluted nonsense, and some of the motivations are a bit fuzzy to say the least, but it’s still a pretty exciting running/jumping/punching flick. Continue reading

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