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Murder on the Orient Express(1974)

This adaptation of Agatha Christie’s 1934 novel did the seemingly impossible: it not only captured the spirit of her work faithfully, but it also pleased the author, who was hesitant to sell the book’s film rights. It wound up becoming only one of two film versions of her work that she ever approved of (though she had reservations about Albert Finney’s mustache). Directed stylishly from a script by Paul Dehn and an uncredited Anthony Shaffer, Sidney Lumet assembled an all-star cast for this tale of a murder on the famed railway service. When the train is stuck due to snow, Finney, as Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, agrees to investigate the murder of an American tycoon (Richard Widmark). The cast of suspects is a who’s who of great actors, including: Sean Connery, Vanessa Redgrave, Wendy Hiller, Lauren Bacall, Anthony Perkins, John Gielgud and, in a scene-stealing, Oscar-winning performance, Ingrid Bergman. Lumet lets Geoffrey Unsworth’s camera linger over the posh first-class cars, the elegant clothes and a mouth-watering collection of gourmet goodies, but he also keeps the mystery rolling to its conclusion, with Finney delivering a dazzling eight-page monologue sifting through various theories to solve the case. It inspired three more theatrical Poirot films (with Peter Ustinov taking over the role), three TV movies and a recent remake starring and directed by Kenneth Branagh. (d. Sidney Lumet, 128m, Digital)

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