Murder on the Orient Express (1974)

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Food: For my dear friends birthday dinner, we went to a fun Italian restaurant called Forlini’s Restaurant in Downtown Manhattan with ten girls and it was a blast. We all had incredible meals and shared three bottles of red wine. I ordered the gnocchi with Bolognese sauce and it was hearty and flavorful – I absolutely recommend. Many of the girls got the Chicken Parmesan dish, with a side of Penne pasta and that was also a hit. The best part was that they brought a light and fluffy chocolate cake to share for the birthday celebrations, along with a round of lemoncello shots! The waiters were so friendly and lively and made the whole experience a ton of fun. A hidden gem!

Film: Sidney Lumet’s “Murder on the Orient Express” (1974) is based off Agatha Christie’s book and utilizes a stacked cast consisting of Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman, Michael York, Jacqueline Bissetare, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Sean Connery, Vanessa Redgrave, John Gielgud, Richard Widmark, Wendy Hiller, Anthony Perkins, Rachel Roberts, Martin Balsam and more.

The convoluted which comprises of so many characters and plot twists is not easy to pull-off, especially with limited setting options (one small train), and could have easily felt claustrophobic or could have lacked the capacity to build the audiences’ affection for the characters, and therefore, ability to care about the plot. However, Lumet’s film pulls it off with flair, incorporating techniques that I imagine would be used on the stage (supported by the writing of Christie whose work has often been adapted to theatrical plays, as well as films).

He eliminates confusion at every possible moment, and allows time for each character to be properly introduced. It feels like a classic who-done-it and plays off that energy in a fun way, calling to mind the likes of the game “Clue.” The film is fast paced and enveloped in high comedy, which is exactly how a film like this should work. It would fall apart if it tried to take itself too seriously. The fact that a few of these characters received Oscar nominations is a tad surprising considering that, due to the collaborative nature of the piece, none of them got significant amount of screen time, but at this point, I suppose that is neither here nor there.

There are so many cleverly written moments that highlight each characters unique personalities, and it is amusing to watch how all the seemingly random train riders might be connected. Albert Finney steals the show as Hercule Poirot, the undercover detective who sets out to solve the case, and performs a spirited monologue which displays all his theories involving each and every character.

This version of “Murder on the Orient Express” is an energetic cinematic murder mystery, swiftly unveiling a lively script, uniquely written characters, and is perfect if you’re looking for an easy-to-watch classic with a packed cast.

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