Which Orient Express is yours?

You can choose your Poirot – and mine is David Suchet – and you can choose your Orient Express, if you have one. Unfortunately, for me the two didn’t coincide.

But never mind.

Actually, I don’t remember the David Suchet Orient Express some Christmases ago terribly well. I only recall quite how weird he was. Not David so much, perhaps, as the way he had to portray Poirot in that film.

If we’re talking films, the 1974 express is mine, Albert Finney notwithstanding. And say what you will, but his moustache was far better. Kenneth Branagh’s took over the whole film, especially considering that on a cinema screen you get pretty close up to such growth. But, the man’s entitled to have whatever he wants in the middle of his face.

The question is, do I prefer the old film, because it was better (I’d like to think it was), or because it was my first? As with the Branagh express, the film is full of stars, but I suppose I feel the 1974 stars were starrier, as well as more my kind of star. In this new version all I could think of was who someone had been played by in the older film. Judi Dench vs Wendy Hiller; Michelle Pfeiffer vs Lauren Bacall?

Murder on the Orient Express, 1974

It’s mainly a matter of personal taste. And if this new film was your first, you are likelier to prefer it, even if you try the older one later.

Apart from the ghastly moustache, I mainly objected to the [unnecessary] changes Kenneth Branagh had made. I got the impression from an interview I read somewhere, that he was jolly pleased with his ‘originality.’ Whereas it seemed to me as if he borrowed the worst from the Suchet version, and then changed how the murder was committed. Those sleeper compartments are small, even on a fancy train. Just saying.

I had read the book before seeing the 1974 film. Today it appears many cinema goers might not have, but have bought the book since, judging by increasing sales. This is good. I hope that even a mediocre film can grow fresh fans for Agatha Christie. And crime. And train travel.

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4 responses to “Which Orient Express is yours?

  1. I enjoyed the new movie, but some of the changes to the book (minor things I agree) were slightly jarring. No-one will ever better David’s portrayal of Poirot. It is right out of the books. I fully expect the BBC to revamp Poirot ala Sherlock at some point. It’ll probably bring him to an entirely new audience, but I’m not sure I’ll enjoy it. Poirot as a romantic hero doesn’t feel right to me. I adored the new Crooked House movie, the book being one of my favourite Christie novels alongside Sad Cypress/A Murder Is Announced/Endless Night/After The Funeral.

  2. You are the new Poirot?

  3. Sorry, Bookwitch! I loved seeing the new Express, and wallowed in the scenery and glamour and shifting glass as if it were a visual box of chocolates. It might have been because we saw it in a cinema, might have been because we had seen bleak Bladerunner the week before, might have been because I wanted something gloriously over the top and beautiful to look at. Also I enjoyed Branagh’s military version of Poirot (even though Suchet’s Poirot is the true Poirot). and had not liked the Albert Finney portrayal/version one bit. Having seen the AF film since, I felt even more annoyed, despite the array of English acting talent. But OE is a very odd story to film, especially when so many know the ending anyway.. . .

  4. I like people who can disagree.

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