Murder on the Orient Express (1974) (2010) (2017) A Three Way Poirot Face Off

Murder on the Orient Express agatha christie

First up, there’s no spoilers to the victim, or the murderer and nothing about the motive. So if like me you haven’t seen it and I’d be very surprised if you hadn’t as I was to myself, there’s no spoils to be had.  Well if I’m very honest I had seen the 1974 version as a kid on the telly but thankfully I couldn’t recall a thing. Well apart from some snow,  obviously a train and a fancy Michael York looking all dandy.

With a family vacation to the city of Liverpool we all decided on Kenneth Branagh’s version of Murder On The Orient Express to watch in the evening. KB himself taking lead mustache duties and frankly it fills the screen! Fluffy face ferret aside, I really enjoyed the tale of Hercule Poirot’s Belgium brain being baffled. Though felt saddened by the fact that this 2017 version was my first introduction to Dame Agatha Christie’s classic story. So what was I to do? Well the only sane thing a movie addict could, I watched two more versions of the story the following day. So here’s a few comparisons and a conclusion to which one I liked best.

Murder on the Orient Express 2017 poster

Who Plays Poirot?

  • First up the three contenders and their Hercule Poirot’s. As above says, Sir Kenneth Branagh stepped up for the newest 2017 version. Next I watched David Suchet in the 2010 TV movie from the series Poirot. Last but no means least, director Sidney Lumet’s 1974 adaptation starring Albert Finney.

Star Power

  • 1974 wins this. Lauren Bacall and Ingrid Bergman are star power enough but then add names like Richard Widmark, Anthony Perkins, Vanessa Redgrave, Sean Connery, Jacqueline Bisset, Martin Balsam, John Gielgud and Michael York. Yep 74 smashes it out the park for a home run.
  • 2017 isn’t too shabby and hot on the heels with Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Olivia Colman, Michelle Pfeiffer, Derek Jacobi, Penelope Cruz but let’s be honest they haven’t a hope of catching 74.
  • 2010 has a superb cast but maybe not in the same league. It didn’t have the budgets of the above two. Toby Jones, David Morrissey, Jessica Chastain, Barbara Hershey, Hugh Bonneville and Eileen Atkins to name a few.

Murder on the Orient Express 1974 poster

Mustache?

  • Albert and David seem to go the traditional route with their jet black slug like creation that thins to a curl at the ends. Kenneth goes for a more meaty version, an alpaca style nostril tickler. Like Sam Elliott’s masterful face furniture in Tombstone. The winner? 1974’s Albert Finney. Ken’s got the girth but Al’s got the style and he looks after his baby. Anyone who carries a suitcase with various mustache wax and uses a sleeping net for his prize pet has to be the winner.

Which Production Looked The Best?

  • 1974 is lavish and elaborate with a certain grandiose of the times though I could almost feel the 70’s pushing through. Think that was Michael York and his pimp like outfits! 2017 looked absolutely gorgeous throughout, giving the film grand scale and scope. It did unfortunately go overboard with CGI effects which almost derailed it into The Polar Express territory! Last we come to 2010 and for me, the most authentic looking in my eyes. Everything felt darker, the lighting, the decor and the clothes. At times you felt like you were on the train and it was claustrophobic. For me the 2010 TV movie version pulled it off.

Best Poirot?

  • This is a difficult one as I haven’t read the Agatha Christie’s novel to get the feel of the great detective in her own eyes. So for me, a first time viewer I will say David Suchet was the clear winner. He was a darker, more intense figure who was somewhat haunted by his perfectionism and pained by what this did to his faith. He seemed a much deeper character. I understand he’s had many episodes to develop this over in the series, though this was my first time seeing him. Albert Finney’s Poirot felt more of a caricature and was very quirky. With his oiled jet slick black hair and most of all his no neck take, I almost couldn’t take him seriously. Please note I haven’t read the novel as that might be how he is portrayed. The Kenneth Branagh version felt the most normal and was easier to like but they made him tougher in an action way! Winner? David Suchet by some way.

Murder on the Orient Express 2010 Poirot poster

Which One Did I like Best?

  • They all keep to the same story path minus a few extra bits here and there. I know my choice will probably be controversial as I’ve read that the 1974 version is many people’s favorite. So it might be a shocker that I’m going to put it in 3rd place! I guess you might of gathered that from some of the answers above but also I didn’t like the case being spelt out in the intro. That leaves 2017 and 2010?…….. My second place is going to go to 2017. It gets quite a lot of hate on the reviews but in it’s defence it was the first time I’ve seen the story played out. I really enjoyed it, hence wanting to watch more and feeling compelled to do this post. So maybe if I’d watched 1974 first then they might of swapped places? I’m not sure. Close call. But far superior to both those two was the TV movie. David Suchet felt like the quintessential Poirot, the most engaging, wiser, obsessed and to the point.

1st – Poirot – Murder on the Orient Express (2010) 9/10
2nd – Murder on the Orient Express (2017) 7.5/10
3rd – Murder on the Orient Express (1974) 7/10

Please feel free to comment below if you wish and as it’s the comment section feel free to drop spoilers. Well it was written nearly 84 years ago!

10 thoughts on “Murder on the Orient Express (1974) (2010) (2017) A Three Way Poirot Face Off

  1. I saw the 74 version as a kid, in the theater with my mom and brother. Fond memories. I saw the 2017 version last year with my brother has we were handling my now deceased mother’s estate. Both he and I are movie buffs and neither one of us liked the 2017 version. I wanted to. I was excited to see it, but it was a let down. I don’t know if that had something to do with the circumstances or not, but I do agree that Kenneth Branagh was the better Poirot though Finney portrays him closely to Christie’s depiction. Haven’t seen 2010 version. Great post idea, Mikey and equally good execution.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Seems to be the case with everyone that had seen the 74 version that they weren’t that keen/fussed about the 2017 one. And I can totally see that. The reveal was so good, I hadn’t a clue. It was interesting to watch how all 3 played it out. The new one added a “last supper” scene which I understood but didn’t care for. Being a British TV production it will probably be harder to obtain but if it crosses your path, I very much recommend it, just to see a different side to Poirot. Sorry to hear about your Mum. All the best and thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I suspect many like me haven’t seen the TV version so I’ll need to catch up. I like both other versions and even though he didn’t star in the 74 version, I’ve always been a big fan of Peter Ustinov’s films as Poirot. 6 times I believe.

    Liked by 1 person

    • David Suchet TV version is extremely good I thought. If it ever did cross your path, it’s worth a look. I bet Peter Ustinov is perfect as Poirot. Shame he didn’t do a Orient Express. I do need to see Death On Nile soon and get to see his interpretation. Also sounds like Kenneth Branagh will be making that one next. Will watch the older version first this time.
      I see Alfred Molina got to strap on a tash for another TV version of MOTOE. Doesn’t get very good reviews and I think three versions are plenty enough lol…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great idea for a post.

    I’ve only seen the ’74 one myself, although I’ll get round to watching the Branagh one at some point. I quite like the ’74 one but Finney does tend to chew the scenery in places. I can well believe that Suchet makes the best Poirot and he seems to be the closest to Christie’s vision than the others, as far as I can tell.

    Branagh’s moustache in the 2017 one is so huge it must have its own postcode. I read a review of the film where the reviewer referred to it as “Moustache on the Orient Express” and made endless moustache jokes like quoting Poirot as questioning suspects by saying “I moustache you …”, which I’m juvenile enough to find hilarious.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “I must-ask you!” LOL yeah I too find such silly humour hilarious. hehe its own postcode. I went for a resemblance to an alpaca. LOL. Thing is now he’s committed to it, so if he does go on to make Death On Nile now we will get to see it once again eclipse our screens. Joking aside I’m quite jealous of it, I’ll happily strut around with that one my face. 🙂

      Like

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