The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week: NYC Repertory Cinema Picks, September 23-29

murder on the orient express-bergman finney

Murder on the Orient Express (1974)
Directed by Sidney Lumet
In an interview in the film’s DVD extras, Lumet remarks that if he never made this masterpiece, he’d never of been able to tackle such a film as 1976’s Network. One can see why: the ensemble cast, intricate-but-grand sets, a brilliant story––but it’s with this film that Lumet truly achieved cinematic ascendancy. In Agatha Christie’s tale, the title train is heading west from Istanbul, and the infamous Hercule Poirot finds himself stuck in a snow drift among a mélange of curious, international strangers. Albert Finney is magnificent as the Belgian detective, concisely effectuating his peculiar tendencies and witticisms. After an American passenger is brutally murdered in the wee hours of the night, Poirot (naturally) takes the case, examining his fellow passengers at the behest of Bianchi (an ever-terrific Martin Balsam). What he finds is a ragtag assembly of characters, each accidentally giving themselves away and cluing in to the bigger picture––every person on board is somehow related to the vicious kidnapping and murder of a young child named Daisy Armstrong (Christie’s play on the Lindbergh case). Watching Finney play detective and question Anthony Perkins, Lauren Bacall, Sean Connery and Ingrid Bergman (who won an Oscar for her performance) is certainly hilarious; the mystery unravels and yet the film becomes more interesting and climaxes at Poirot’s unforgettable monologue with the solution to the crime. Samantha Vacca (September 28, 5pm, 8pm at BAM’s Ingrid Bergman series)

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