Of course, we are particularly fascinated by Agatha Christie’s books, in which she leaves us puzzling until the end about who the killer is. And every time we think we are on the right track, we are surprised on the last few pages and taught better. However, some of the film adaptations of Agatha Christie are also very impressive, even if some of them are almost forgotten meanwhile. Therefore, we would like now to briefly introduce the best Agatha Christie film classics and of course not neglect the latest remake of one of her most famous works: Death on the Nile.
DEATH ON THE NILE (2021)
THE REMAKE STARS GAL GADOT, Letitia Wright, and many others
Kenneth Branagh already visualized his love for Agatha Christie with the opulent remake of “MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS” three years ago. Now he has once again gathered a squad of international stars to bring the exciting mystery thriller, based on the 1937 novel of the same name by Agatha Christie, to the screen in a modern twist.
Kenneth Branagh is returning as Hercule Poirot, along with Tom Bateman, and Armie Hammer. Furthermore, great female actors take part in the crime story. Among them Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman), Letitia Wright (Black Panther, Avengers: Endgame), Rose Leslie (Game of Thrones, Morgan), Emma Mackey (Sex Education, The Winter Lake), Nikkita Chadha (Rocketman, Dr. Who), Sophie Okonedo (Hellboy, Ace Ventura), and Annette Bening (Captain Marvel, American Beauty, Bugsy, Regarding Henry).
Moreover, Ridley Scott, who produces some of the most influential movies of film history like Alien, Blade Runner, Gladiator, and The Martian to name just a few, will join the group of producers. Kenneth announced that the remake of Death on the Nile will be very mysterious, sexy, and disturbing.
A bit comparable with James Bond No Time to Die, Death on the Nile was also postponed several times, last due to the Covid-19 restrictions. In this context, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures and 20th Century Studios removed the film from the release calendar for an indefinite time. But there is hope that we can watch it in spring 2021. However, we can’t give a hint yet if the film matches the quality of the original.
DEATH ON THE NILE (1978)
THE ORIGINAL WITH PETER USTINOV
The original of Death on the Nile is a masterpiece of filmmaking. The cast, the visual language, the thrill and humor, everything can be considered as nearly perfect.
The legendary Peter Ustinov appears as Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot. Somehow trapped on a luxury Nile cruise liner, and surrounded by eccentric celebrities, and mysterious people, he becomes the witness of a murder. With his old friend, Colonel Johnny Race (David Niven) he starts his investigation.
Although no one can leave the boat, the detective’s investigation is extremely difficult. Even if each of the passengers has a motive, so everyone also has an alibi.
It is a feast to watch Peter Ustinov. Very charming, with a subtle sense of humor, he gives Agatha Christie’s master detective an authentic face. Besides, Death on the Nile stars the top league of the international film of that time. Among the actors are unforgettable stars and personalities like David Niven (Colonel Johnny Race), Jane Birkin (Louise Bourget), Bette Davis (Marie Van Schuyler), Jack Warden (Dr. Ludwig Bessner), Mia Farrow (Jacqueline De Bellefort), Maggie Smith (Miss Bowers), George Kennedy (Andrew Pennington), Lois Chiles (Linnet Ridgeway), Simon MacCorkindale (Simon Doyle), and Jon Finch (James Fergusson).
Furthermore, Death on the Nile stars Angela Lansbury, who starred just two years later as another charming investigator created from the pen of Agatha Christie.
THE MIRROR CRACK’D (1980)
This mystery movie about a murder during a film party is rich in irony and British black humor as well as great actors. After Death on the Nile, Angela Landsbury stars in this Agatha Christie film based on her 53rd novel which was published on November 12, 1962.
A big Hollywood movie company arrives at a small English village to produce a film about Mary, Queen of Scots and Elisabeth I. The film crew invites the locals to a reception held in a manor house.
Here, everything only revolves around superstar Marina Rudd (Elizabeth Taylor), which makes her biggest rival Lola Brewster (Kim Novak) angry. During the party, young local Heather Babcock (Maureen Bennett), one of Rudd’s biggest fans, accepts a cocktail that was made for her idol.
Seconds later the young woman is dead. Time for Jane Marple and her nephew Inspector Dermot Craddock (Edward Fox) to find the murder.
Furthermore, Geraldine Chaplin (one of Charlie Chaplin’s children), Tony Curtis, Rock Hudson, Charles Grey (who also portrayed Ernest Stavo Blofeld in James Bond), Richard Pearson, and Marella Oppenheim performed in The Mirror Crack’d.
The film was directed by Guy Hamilton, who was also responsible for the James Bond movies Goldfinger, Diamonds are Forever, Live and Let Die, The Man with the Golden Gun. Hamilton also directed Evil under the Sun, our next Agatha Christie film tip.
EVIL UNDER THE SUN (1982)
Guy Hamilton also directed this fabulous movie in which Peter Ustinov stars as Hercule Poirot once more. Along with Ustinov appear other stars from Death on the Nile like Jane Birkin and Maggie Smith.
Evil Under the Sun is visualized in the same pictural language as Death on the Nile. Warm, relaxing, with lots of smart, ironic, and black humor. Hercule Poirot is in charge of finding the valuable but lost diamond of Sir Horace Blatt (Colin Blakely) through an affaires de coeur, as the famous detective describes it.
The search leads Poirot to a small island in the Adriatic Sea and. Here, an exclusive VIP hotel is lead by Daphne Castle (Maggie Smith) where several eccentric guests, mainly from the film and theater business, enjoy their holidays until Alena Marshall is murdered.
A while ago, the gorgeous showgirl retired from business to marry the businessman Kenneth Marshall (Denis Quilley). But, while the Gardner’s (Sylvia Miles and James Mason) try to book her for a new theater drama, Rex Brewster (Roddy McDowall) wants to publish an embarrassing book about Marshall’s life.
However, both are strictly declined by Alena, until her tragic death. Besides, Patrick Redfern, a playboy who’s teaching Latin in normal life, flirts with Alena intensively. Of course, his wife Christine (Jane Birkin) is extremely displeased by the affair of her husband.
Thereby, again, everybody has a motive to kill a woman, but obviously, nobody did it. Everyone has an alibi.
Besides Death on the Nile, Evil Under the Sun is an absolute highlight of all Agatha Christie film adaptions. The density, thrill, and humor as well as the grandiose play of Ustinov as well as all other actors are a feast for the senses. The film is exciting and relaxing at the same time, an evergreen which you can watch again and again and again.
MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS (1974)
The series of Agatha Christie film adaptions started with Murder on the Orient Express, which wasn’t only very successful because of the thrilling story, but because of the exclusive cast. Because the Who’s Who of the then international movie scene appears in this film. Besides, is the only Agatha Christie motion picture in which a man is killed.
Accidentally, Hercule Poirot (Albert Finney) takes the Orient Express full of illustrious passengers. Among them are the diva Mrs. Hubbard (Lauren Bacall), Countess Helena Andrenyi (Jacqueline Bisset), her husband and diplomat Count Rudolf Andrenyi (Michael York), the Swedish missionary Greta Ohlsson (Ingrid Bergman), the Princess Natalia Dragomiroff (Wendy Hiller) and her maid Hildegarde Schmidt (Rachel Roberts). Besides, the British Colonel Arbuthnot (Sean Connery), and his lover Mary Debenham (Vanessa Redgrave) are on board.
Poirot was spontaneously invited by Bianchi (Martin Balsam), the boss of the train line. But Poirot must share his room with Hector McQueen (Anthony Perkins). He is the secretary of mysterious Mr. Ratchett (Richard Widmark), who takes the ride right next door.
Ratchett asks Poirot to help him. The rich man receives death threats for a while. Thus, he is afraid for his life. However, Hercule Poirot declines his offer. And Ratchett is dead the next morning.
Poirot can’t believe it, since he slept door to door to the victim. At the request of his friend Bianchi, he starts the questioning. Here, also Ratchett’s butler Beddoes (John Gielgud), the strange detective Cyrus B. Hardman (Colin Coulouris) and, the Italian dealer Antonio Foscarelli take part. The latter is played by Denis Quilley who we already know from Evil under the Sun.
Of course, all of them affirm to be innocent, as conductor Pierre Paul Michel. The sensitive railway official is played by Jean-Pierre Cassel, the father of the great French actor Vincent Cassel. The scenes of questioning are a rollercoaster ride, from up to down. In one moment, you may think: “Yes, I know the killer”. But on the other, you will think: “I don’t know anything”.
The film is a milestone in film history. Also, because of the breathtaking cast, characters of the old school. Especially, Lauren Bacall impresses with her unique play and appearance.
MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS (1917)
Like Death on the Nile, Kenneth Branagh adapted the story to modern times. His version of Murder on the Orient Express was released in 2017. The film is also starring Penélope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Derek Jacobi, Leslie Odom Jr., Michelle Pfeiffer, and Daisy Ridley.
What a cast, of course. But the film could not convince the audience. It did not reach the quality of the original. Branagh is very familiar with Shakespeare, but not with Agatha Christie. Certainly, both authors played with thrill and humor.
Nevertheless, their stories and characters are entirely different. Hence, Branagh’s film adaption is not worth seeing. Because it was not funny or thrilling at all. Too much drama and CGI; too less Agatha Christie.
Therefore, we hope, that Ridley Scott and Disney helped him, to do it better with Death on the Nile. We will check it soon.
© 2020 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved.