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Restored Agatha Christie Classic Movies - Film Review

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by Alison Brinkworth (subscribe)
Freelance journalist in Birmingham with a passion for the dynamic theatre, art, food and fashion scene in Britain's 'Second City'.
Published October 12th 2017
Vintage Murder Mysteries With Hollywood Stars
Sometimes there's nothing better than getting comfy on the sofa with a mug of tea, maybe some chocolate, and a classic Agatha Christie who-dunnit to test the little grey cells.

Agatha Christie restored classic films
Classic crime capers with a cast of Hollywood legends


Now four murder mystery films from the pen of the 'Queen of Crime' and featuring glittering A-list casts from Elizabeth Taylor to Bette Davis have been newly-restored and released


They are Murder on the Orient Express, Death on the Nile, The Mirror Crack'd and Evil Under The Sun, and include extras to enjoy as well as designed in delightfully vintage artistic packaging.

Although it has been quite some years since a big-budget cinema release of a Christie novel, these new restored works from STUDIOCANAL come as the 2017 film version of Murder on the Orient Express is released in cinemas across the UK, starring Kenneth Branagh.

For fans of the crime capers, these classic films bring an extravagance, enchantment and big cast from the 1970's and '80's - when Christie's work was on the crest of a movie wave.

No doubt you will have seen some of these on television in years gone by, particularly over Christmas, and that brings an added charm and familiarity about them. There's Peter Ustinov playing Poirot as a lovably bumbling yet astute detective in Death on the Nile and Evil Under The Sun, while Angela Lansbury takes a turn as Miss Marple in The Mirror Crack'd in the days before she was regularly sleuthing as Jessica in Murder, She Wrote.

Agatha Christie the mirror crack'd
Angela Lansbury as Miss Marple in The Mirror Crack'd


It's the sheer glamour of the cast list that makes these films so alluring, especially for film buffs. Elizabeth Taylor, a young Maggie Smith and even Mia Farrow at her most elegant. Then there is the astounding array of Hollywood greats competing for the spotlight in Murder On The Orient Express - Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman, Sean Connery, Vanessa Redgrave, Michael York and so many more. It's inconceivable how they managed to get such big-hitters alongside each other for a who-dunnit, but thank goodness they did.

The brand new digital restorations (taken from 4k transfers) may be nearing 50 years old but the high quality of the production, sets and particularly costumes mean they continue to intrigue and engage audiences today.

Murder on the orient express, film classic , rerelease
Ingrid Bergman is questioned by Albert Finney's Hercule Poirot


For those interested in the luxurious vintage costumes, some extras with the films include stills of the costumes or an interview with the costume director.

The special restorations have been eagerly anticipated and even got a premiere screening ahead of their release in October 2017 at this year's International Agatha Christie Festival.

The official release date for sale, available on DVD or Blu-Ray, is October 23, 2017.

Here is all you need to know on each of the films.

MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS (1974)
Director: Sidney Lumet
Feature running time: 122mins approx.
Includes art cards of original press book.



The story - Marooned in a snow drift, an opulent Orient Express train is the scene of a brutal murder - a no-good American Tycoon lies dead with twelve dagger wounds, but which of the passengers is the guilty party? Belgian detective Hercule Poirot must investigate.

The cast - Albert Finney (Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, Skyfall) stars as Poirot. Agatha Christie actually gave her own endorsement of him as her personal Poirot favourite. There's also Ingrid Bergman (Casablanca, Notorious), who won both an Oscar and BAFTA for Best Supporting Actress and John Gielgud (Gandhi) who claimed the Best Supporting Actor BAFTA for his role. Lauren Bacall, Sean Connery and many more.

EXTRAS

* - Making Of (50mins)
* - NEW Interview with producer Richard Goodwin
* - Behind the scenes stills gallery


DEATH ON THE NILE (1978)
Director: John Guillermin
Feature running time: 134mins approx.
Includes 5 Costume Design art cards.



The story - Hercule Poirot is enjoying a holiday aboard a luxury Nile steamer, when a mystery assassin takes the life of an heiress and he is called upon to track down the killer amongst his fellow travellers.

The cast - A visually sumptuous and quintessentially British production, Death On The Nile won an Oscar for Anthony Powell's costume design and introduced Peter Ustinov (Robin Hood, Spartacus) in his first portrayal as the Belgian detective Poirot. Surrounding Ustinov are a stellar cast of the time including Maggie Smith (The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie), Jane Birkin (Blow-Up), Bette Davis (All About Eve), David Niven (The Guns of Navarone), Mia Farrow (Rosemary's Baby), George Kennedy (Cool Hand Luke) and Angela Lansbury (Beauty and The Beast).

EXTRAS

* - Making Of
* - NEW Interview with costume designer Anthony Powell
* - NEW Interview with Dame Angela Lansbury
* - NEW Interview with producer Richard Goodwin
* - Behind the scenes stills gallery
* - Costume designs stills gallery


THE MIRROR CRACK'D (1980)
Director: Guy Hamilton
Feature running time: 101mins approx.
Includes 5 storyboard design art cards.



The story - Super sleuth Miss Marple sets about solving a mysterious death in the archetypal English village of St. Mary Mead.

The cast - Angela Lansbury moves from a supporting role in Death on The Nile to centre stage as she takes on the role of the iconic Miss Marple alongside a cast that numbers Geraldine Chaplin (Doctor Zhivago), Tony Curtis (Some Like It Hot) Edward Fox (Gandhi), Rock Hudson (Pillow Talk), Kim Novak (Vertigo) and Elizabeth Taylor (Cleopatra).

EXTRAS

* - NEW Interview with writer Barry Sandler (14mins)
* - NEW Interview with Dame Angela Lansbury (5mins)
* - NEW Interview with producer Richard Goodwin (10mins)
* - Behind the scenes stills gallery


EVIL UNDER THE SUN (1982)
Director: Guy Hamilton
Feature running time: 111mins approx.
Includes 5 cast photograph art cards.



The story - A mysterious death in a glamorous hotel in the Mediterranean can only be solved by legendary Belgian sleuth Hercule Poirot.

The cast - Another star-studded cast heads up Guy Hamilton's second take on an Agatha Christie story. Peter Ustinov returns as Hercule Poirot and is joined by alumni from Death on the Nile, Maggie Smith and Jane Birkin as well as James Mason (North by Northwest), Roddy McDowall (Planet of The Apes) and Diana Rigg (On Her Majesty's Secret Service).

EXTRAS

* - Making Of (15mins)
* - NEW Interview with costume designer Anthony Powell (8mins)
* - NEW Interview with writer Barry Sandler (8mins)
* - NEW Interview with producer Richard Goodwin (6mins)
* - Behind the scenes stills gallery
* - Costume designs stills gallery
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Why? Enjoy classic Agatha Christie movies with Hollywood stars
When: Anytime
Where: At home
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