Book and Movie: Murder On the Orient Express

by Agatha Christie

Dodd, Mead and Company, 1934

My Rating: A+

Back in the 1970s the movie version of Murder On the Orient Express was a smash hit. After seeing the movie I read the book. I liked both book and movie then and I really liked them now, as you can see from my rating above. Out of the 15 novels I’ve read in the past 15 months, this one is the best. I may discover more as I keep going. I only have 72 left to go.

Why is this one so good? Well, I liked the plot and I also liked the way it’s organized. It’s told in a very creative and systematic way. First the author gives us two pages listing the characters and tells a little about each one. Then she divides the story into three parts: The Facts, The Evidence and Poirot Sits Back and Thinks.

In The Facts Ms. Christie sets the stage. Hercule Poirot is traveling from the Middle East to London aboard the fabulous train known as the Orient Express. On board he met an old friend who is a director for the train. On the first night of travel one of the the thirteen passengers is murdered.

In the second part of the story, The Evidence, the director asks Poirot to lead the investigation. Poirot, of course, agrees and he begins his investigation by interviewing the remaining twelve passengers one by one. Poirot knows that the murderer must still be on the train since the train has been stalled in a snow drift and there are no footprints outside the train. The murderer has to be one of these twelve passengers, or perhaps the conductor.

By the end of the story we find that Poirot has a couple of possible solutions to offer the police. To be honest, neither solution occurred to me.

This week I watched the movie version again. The movie is very close to the story. What made the movie so amazing was it’s all-star cast. You will see Albert Finney as Poirot, Sean Connery, Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman, Anthony Perkins, John Gielgud, Vanessa Redgrave, and more.

The movie was such a pleasure to watch with all the glamorous costumes and the authentic looking coach and restaurant car. It was definitely a 1930s period piece. All of that, plus the classic actors from film and stage, made for a very pleasant afternoon.

My only complaint is that Albert Finney seemed to be over-playing Poirot. It was as if he saw Poirot as a caricature or a cartoon character. I’m sure many will argue that Poirot is a caricature of a detective but I don’t see him that way. Just let me stick to my belief that he’s a unique little Belgian detective. I like the version that’s in my head. (Of course, I reserve the right to change my mind later.)

Don’t let my minor complaint keep you from renting this movie or reading this excellent book. I think you’ll enjoy the experience.

For those people who live in North America: The PBS show, Masterpiece Mysteries, is featuring Agatha Christie’s novels starting this coming Sunday night. (The schedule is here.) The shows run from May 23 through August 1. Six of the shows are new videos.

July 7th: A special with David Suchet on the Orient Express

July 11th: Murder On the Orient Express

Murder On the Orient Express fulfilled several challenges:

Agatha Christie Reading Challenge

Take A Chance Challenge

Cozy Mystery Challenge

The 1930s Challenge.

This entry was posted in 100+ Book Challenge, A+ Books, Agatha Christie Challenge, Book Challenges, Books, Movies and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Book and Movie: Murder On the Orient Express

  1. JoAnn says:

    You know, I’ve never read Agatha Christie! Maybe I’ll make this my first one.

  2. Molly says:

    Oh how fun! I will definitely check out the PBS schedule right away.

  3. Stephanie says:

    I just read this one for the classics circuit–it was my first Agatha Christie. I loved it!

  4. cerrin says:

    I adore the PBS Masterpiece Mysteries Their is just something wonderful about watching movies that way.
    Curl up with popcorn, Rum and Coke, and maybe pizza and watch one.

  5. My husband loves this movie, but it has never done much for me. Although, admittedly, it’s fun to see an all-star cast doing their thing in a movie. We just re-watched The Magnificent Seven and it was just wonderful seeing the cast – all so young!

  6. Great review. I’ll have to set the DVR for all those movies. Thanks for the info.

  7. Oh Margot — thank you SO so much!!!! This is incredibly timely — I just finished reading “Murder on the Orient Express” as part of my personal AC challenge.

    AND I keep missing good shows on PBS because we don’t have our DISH anymore (now that we’re not traveling so much); I never seem to remember to check the night’s listing — we are watching less and less TV all the time.

    But this series will be a don’t miss! I’m copying down the schedule you gave. Thanks so much

  8. Nan says:

    I have this book (but haven’t read it yet) in a mystery collection which belonged to my late aunt. It is called Murder in the Calais Coach. I read that this was the US title to avoid confusion because Graham Greene had published a book called Stamboul Train which was called Orient Express in the US. My constant lament – why can’t a book have one title the world around?! I have a beautiful book that an internet friend gave me which I think you would love:
    Agatha Christie
    A Reader’s Companion
    By Vanessa Wagstaff & Stephen Poole

    Lots of info, pictures, old covers. I refer to it each time I read an Agatha book.

  9. It sounds like there’s a reason this book is so well known!

  10. I’m hoping that this one is in my stash of Christie books I picked up at the library sale. Sounds superb and I will watch the movie after for sue! 😀

  11. BooksPlease says:

    I agree with you about Albert Finney – he is not Poirot!

  12. Murder on the Orient Express, the book and the movie, are two of my perennial favorites. I’m so glad you liked them, too!


    Connie @ Constance-Reader

  13. stacybuckeye says:

    Jenny won this book during my giveaways and I’m sorry to see it go before I have a chance to read it. But I would like to do what you are doing, read them all in order. Maybe after the baby is born would be a good time since they are not excessively long 🙂

  14. Jenners says:

    Oh GOSh … I saw this movie when I was a little girl and had terrible nightmares afterwards. IF I remember correctly, they reenact the murder scene over and over again with how each suspect could have done it. It just terrified me all night long .. I was convinced there was a murderer in the house! And I didn’t know ANY of these actors at the time; funny to see what an all-star cast it was.

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