For fans of the mystery writings of Agatha Christie, the first move to the big screen came in 1974 with Murder on the Orient Express.
The popular novel, written by Christie in 1934, was brought to the screen by Sidney Lumet, with the adapted screenplay by Paul Dehn.
Lumet chose Sean Connery to play Col. Arbuthnott as one of the train passengers and soon he had many well-known stars joining the ensemble: Vanessa Redgrave, Albert Finney, Anthony Perkins, Sir John Gilegud, Lauren Bacall, Jacqueline Bisset, and Jean Pierre Cassel.
The plot was the same – numerous passengers travelling by train on the Orient Express, and Hercule Poirot, played by Finney, is called upon to solve the murder of Mr. Ratchett, an American businessman.
As the investigation unfolds, connections and hatreds are revealed, making fans of the books happy with the film adaptation of Christie’s unique twists and turns – as well as her social commentary.
Although Christie had been unhappy with previous adaptations made of her books in the 1960s, she only had one negative comment about this film – that Finney’s moustache was NOT the finest in Europe.
Made for a budget of 1.4 million, the film was a box office success, earning over $35 million in North America in November/December 1974. The film was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Actor in a Leading Role for Albert Finney.
And this film set the blueprint of murder mystery on film – encouraging the well-known stars to share screen time for the ability to reveal whodunnit.