Thursday, December 29, 2016

Murder on the Orient Express: It looks like it's time for a remake!


That’s the spirit! Kenneth Branagh—who really ticked me off for not following through with his plans to adapt The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—is in talks to direct a remake of Murder on the Orient Express! While it's difficult for me to see anyone but David Suchet as Hercule Poirot, Alfred Molina played the detective in another television adaptation of Agatha Christie's classic whodunnit, and Albert Finney was nominated for his portrayal of Poirot in the 1974 version.



In the upcoming iteration, Branagh himself plays Poirot with a cast that includes Daisy Ridley, Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Josh Gad, Judi Dench, Derek Jacobi, Michael Pena, Lucy Boynton, Penelope Cruz, Tom Bateman and Leslie Odom Jr. The film comes out November 22 and will be a welcome change from a year that looks to be saturated with films based on comic books!



But for today's #ThrowbackThursday film, let's go way back to 1974 when Albert Finney starred as the famous Belgian detective in a star-studded movie version directed by the late, great Sydney Lumet. 

Nominated for six Academy Awards, Murder on the Orient Express earned Ingrid Bergman her third—and final—Oscar for her performance in the supporting category, of Greta, the Swedish nurse. 





In addition to Bergman and Albert Finney, the cast included Lauren Bacall, Jacqueline Bisset, John Gielgud, Sean Connery, Martin Balsam, Anthony Perkins, Richard Widmark, Vanessa Redgrave, Rachel Roberts and Michael York. See? Star-studded, even if you millennials don't know all the names, take it from an oldster, these were some of the biggest actors working in the 1960's and 1970's. 






Along with the costume design, the score and cinematography, the script by Paul Dehn—who gave us Goldfinger, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, and several Planet of the Apes sequels—was also nominated, but didn't win. It was the last screenplay Dehn would write; he died just two years later, in 1976. 

The last of the six nominations? That went to Albert Finney. The five time Oscar nominee never, ever won the coveted golden boy from the Academy which goes to show you once again that awards, well, yeah, they're nice, but sometimes they just don't mean shit. 

1974? That was a pretty big year. Finney was a great actor but he didn't really stand a chance. He was up against Dustin Hoffman for Lenny Bruce, Jack Nicholson for Chinatown, Al Pacino for The Godfather and Art Carney for Harry & Tonto. Nope, not a chance. Who won? Art Carney for Harry & Tonto. Hmmm. I can just imagine Nicholson and Pacino sitting in the audience, smiling through their teeth ... 'It's an honor just to be nominated...' 

Here's the trailer. Unfortunately, the movie isn't available to stream anywhere that I can see, and I don't own a copy of the DVD. I hate to get all judgmental based on a trailer, tantamount to judging a book by its cover, and the movie itself may have been great in its day—besides the Oscar nominations, there are plenty of great reviews and a high Rotten Tomatoes score—but to my eyes in 2015, and it may be heresy to say this about a Lumet film, it looks like an old television movie. I'd say a remake is in order. 




How about you? Talk to me.

Originally published 6/18/2015

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