Creating the perfect cast for a movie version of Agatha Christie’s eternal classic, Murder on the Orient Express, is quite a current topic, since Kenneth Branagh is busy assembling his cast for his 2017 release. But what would the perfect cast have looked like if the movie had first been made in 1956? If I had been responsible for choosing the actors, the following poster would have been displayed in front of the cinemas!
Murder on the Orient Express (1956)
Short review from a contemporary newspaper: (WARNING! Click on the links redirecting you to the characters only if you’re not afraid of spoilers!)
I was astonished to see the ensemble cast of the adaptation of Christie’s masterpiece yesterday for the first time! Without giving away anything about the plot or the murderer’s identitiy, I would like to point out that the twelve suspects, who are stuck on a train alongside private detective Hercule Poirot, were all chosen brilliantly. Even if he only had a tiny role as the victim of the crime, I was especially astonished by Walter Matthau, who I wasn’t exactly familiar with before!
Grace Kelly was glamorous as ever and to see her in the role of Hungarian Countess Andrényi was especially spot on, since we all know it’s not long before she turns into Princess of Monaco. It was sad to see her in one of her final roles on the big screen! She will be greatly missed by her loyal audience! Her partner, Count Andrényi was played by a youngster, Tony Curtis, who is certainly looking forward to a great future in cinema!
I was also impressed by the comeback of silent comedian Buster Keaton (Edward Masterman)! Though he only had a small role as Matthau’s butler, he was as marvelous as in the good old silent days, even performing one of his beloved pratfalls! Speaking of comebacks, we also have Greta Garbo on our list as Swedish missionary Greta Ohlsson! She hasn’t appeared in any movies since the beginning of the war, so it’s worth taking a look at this one just for her!
Clark Gable is a bit tired in the role of Colonel Arbuthnot, but luckily there’s still something left from his old charm! Though Fred MacMurray (Hector MacQueen) was also well cast as an everyday American gentleman, both he and Gable were greatly surpassed by two ladies, namely Katherine Hepburn (Mrs. Hubbard) and Audrey Hepburn (Mary Debenham) who are both at their best! It was a pleasure to see them act together!
You can catch famous faces even in the tiniest roles. Maurice Chevalier stars as the French train conductor and Marlene Dietrich is Princess Dragomiroff‘s German maid! Both of them are as ingenial as ever! And even though Gladys Cooper is simply the most British lady I’ve ever seen, she is perfectly believable as a Russian princess! It was also pleasing to see Henry Fonda‘s as Monsieur Bouc, Poirot’s friend and assistant, but his presence was way too short! He would really have deserved a bigger role!
All in all, if you wish to be the witness of an exciting crime performed by the best of Hollywood, this is the movie for you! It premieres Thursday night!
(Note: I don’t think anyone can possibly be a better Poirot than David Suchet, so let’s just imagine he popped into a time machine and managed to take the role!)