John Guillermin (director)
23 October 2017 (released)
30 October 2017
Perhaps a big budget isn't always the best way to interpret Christie and the 1978 adaptation of DEATH ON THE NILE is a case in point, despite once again boasting a stellar cast and exotic locations.
Here we have Peter Ustinov as Poirot. Ustinov is an actor who always exuded an inner intelligence but his Poirot fails to excite in the way that Finney's did and this was an actor who was invariably laid back. In DEATH ON THE NILE we have to wait over an hour before rich ‘American bitch' Linnet Ridgeway Doyle (Lois Chiles) finally gets bumped off on the luxurious paddle steamer going up the Nile. Yes, once again all fellow passengers including Mia Farrow, Simon McCorkindale, Bette Davis, Jane Birkin, Angela Lansbury and many more had reasons to... though you should be able to arrive at the identity of the murderer (s) by steering away from the obvious and instead focusing on the seemingly unlikely.
Bette Davis as socialite and kleptomaniac Marie Van Schuyler and Angela Lansbury as eccentric and alcoholic novelist Salome Otterbourne clearly had field days with their ott performances while at the other end of the spectrum Jane Birkin’s drab and long suffering servant cum personal assistant Louise Bourget takes up a similar role in the 1982 EVIL UNDER THE SUN (also starring Ustinov in the role of the master detective).
In DEATH ON THE NILE Poirot is assisted, of sorts, by old friend Colonel Race (David Niven) – oh it’s all so English and so proper. While things plod along at a rather slow pace and it seems to take an eternity for the first murder to happen, by the end of the film we can count five corpses nonetheless.
Anthony Powell won the ‘Academy Award for Best Costume Design’ although yours truly prefers the MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS outfits. The restored Blu-ray offers multiple bonus features including interviews and a portrait of costume designer Anthony Powell.