(US - 2017)
Directed by Kenneth Branagh. Written by Michael Green. Cast: Kenneth Branagh, Penelope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Josh Gad, Derek Jacobi, Leslie Odom Jr, Michelle Pfeiffer, Daisy Ridley, Tom Bateman, Lucy Boynton, Olivia Colman, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Marwan Kenzari, Sergei Polunin, Gerald Horan, Phil Dunster, Miranda Raison, Hayat Kamille. (PG-13, 114 mins)
The first big-screen Hercule Poirot mystery since Peter Ustinov starred in Cannon's little-seen APPOINTMENT WITH DEATH way back in 1988, MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS gives a mustache attached to the face of Kenneth Branagh the opportunity to play Agatha Christie's legendary detective. David Suchet enjoyed much success as Poirot in a series of PBS productions, including an ORIENT EXPRESS in 2010. The novel was also turned into a 2001 CBS TV-movie with Alfred Molina as a present-day Poirot. Suchet is often cited as the best Poirot, but the standard--at least as far as cinema is concerned--remains Albert Finney's Oscar-nominated turn as the fussy Belgian sleuth in Sidney Lumet's classic 1974 film version. While Christie adaptations were frequent (Margaret Rutherford played Miss Marple in several 1960s films, TEN LITTLE INDIANS was a big hit in 1965, and Tony Randall portrayed Poirot in 1966's THE ALPHABET MURDERS), it was the all-star MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS that got the ball rolling on a star-studded, big-screen Christie renaissance that lasted into the 1980s, including a 1974 remake of TEN LITTLE INDIANS, rushed into production by Harry Alan Towers to compete with Lumet's film; Ustinov starring as Poirot in 1978's DEATH ON THE NILE, 1982's EVIL UNDER THE SUN, the aforementioned latecomer APPOINTMENT WITH DEATH; and Angela Lansbury as Miss Marple in 1980's THE MIRROR CRACK'D, giving the actress an old-school test run before her long-running TV series MURDER, SHE WROTE.