CHARLOTTE, NC, November 9, 2017 – Agatha Christie was one of the most prolific mystery writers of all time with many critics saying that “Murder on the Orient Express” was her crowning achievement.
On Friday the 6th film version of the popular six-installment serialized story, which first appeared in the “Saturday Evening Post” in 1933, will open in theaters around the country. In this production, actor/director Kenneth Branagh plays the role of Hercule Poirot in the movie which he also directed.
“Murder on the Orient Express” – a novel in 1934.
Other actors who portrayed Christie’s eccentric detective were Albert Finney (1974), Peter Ustinov (1978), Alfred Molina (2001), David Suchet (2010) and Mansai Nomura (2015).
As with seemingly everything these days, controversy arose as soon as the trailers for the film were released because many Christie fans objected to Branagh’s interpretation of Poirot’s mustache, a significant part of the Belgian detective’s persona in stories.
Oddly enough, when Albert Finney was in the role in 1974 Christie was still alive. The author felt that Finney’s lip hair was not accurate either.
Adding to the trivia-fest surrounding “Murder of the Orient Express” are several interesting largely unknown tidbits that may make the new edition even more interesting. For example, the original Orient Express began operating in October 1883 with the route running from Paris to Giugiu, Romania rather than Istanbul.
During its incarnation in the Post, the story was called “Murder on the Calais Coach.”
Christie, who is said to have written much of the story while staying as a guest at the luxurious Pera Palace Hotel in Istanbul, was said to have been inspired partly by an incident in 1929 when the Orient Express was stalled on the tracks for six days because of a blizzard in Cerkezkoy, Turkey.
Two years later, Christie, herself, had a similar experience on the Orient Express when heavy rains and flooding washed away some of the tracks leaving the train stranded for a longer than normal period of time.
Some say that Christie’s tale was partially based upon the infamous kidnapping of Charles Lindbergh’s 20-month old son in 1932. Lindbergh and his wife, Anne Morrow sent the $50,000 ransom, but the child was never seen again.
The real “Murder on the Orient Express”
Believe it or not, there was at least one actual Murder on the Orient Express. Maria Farcasanu was robbed and killed by Karl Strasser when he pushed her from the moving train about a year after Christie had published her book.
Another incident in 1950 involved espionage when Simon Karpe disappeared suddenly under extremely suspicious circumstances. Author Ian Fleming took note of those events and incorporated some elements of the mystery into his popular James Bond novel and film “From Russia with Love.”
“Murder on the Orient Express” Circa 2017
In the new version of the film, a photograph of Katherine, Poirot’s love, is actually a picture of actress Emma Thompson when she was much younger. Thompson and Kenneth Branagh were married until 1995.
When the new film debuts, the cast will include two Oscar winners: Judi Dench and Penelope Cruz; and four Oscar nominees: Kenneth Branagh, Willem Dafoe, Michelle Pfeiffer and Johnny Depp. Needless to say there is star power galore in the latest installation of one of the great murder mysteries of all time.
And so with the “training” class now complete, enjoy the show.
About the Author: Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor was an award winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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