I had a bad initial experience with this film in 1974. I had been married that morning and my wife and her little boy and I were out on the town (Portland, Maine) celebrating. After a great seafood dinner, we decided to catch this film, but there were only a half-dozen seats left (remember those days?), and they were all front row, extreme right side, against the wall. Thus we watched the film from a terrible viewing angle, way too close to the screen. The image was very distorted. For over two hours I struggled to appreciate the film, but went away very disappointed. A subsequent home video viewing did not improve my disposition toward it.
Sure did want to like it, though. I mean, what a cast! Were it not for his cauliflower ears, I’d not have guessed Albert Finney was playing the lead role, Hercule Poirot, who is a bit over-the-top here. And then there are Sean Connery, John Gielgud, Jacqueline Bisset, Ingrid Bergman (who won an Oscar for this), and so on. The Oscar-nominated music score by Richard Rodney Bennett is delightful. And the film, directed by Sidney Lumet, gets the atmosphere and claustrophobia of the train cars right.
So why didn’t I like this more than I did? It’s talky, but other than a murder, talk is what we get from Agatha Christie. And some of my favorite movies are talky throughout (THE LION IN WINTER, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS, BECKET, etc.). But I think this Blu-ray is a breakthrough for me…I think I can finally begin to warm up to this movie, which is exactly what I’d been hoping for when I ordered this from U.K.
The label is StudioCanal, not Paramount, which apparently does not hold international video rights, only domestic. That is why, if you want this title, you’ll need a region-free player, as the disc is Region B locked.
The image is framed at 1.85:1, and looks well-rendered on the disc. Flesh tones look natural. There is grain to be seen. Black levels on my 65″ LG OLED look fine, and there is shadow detail. I am not at all unhappy with what I see….or what I hear. Audio is 2.0 DTS-HD Master. The music and dialog are as clear as a cloudless day. Subtitles are available.
There are a few extras. An interview with the producer, and a four-part “Making Of” documentary that totals close to 45 minutes (there is no “play-all” function, though). There is also a 12-page, small-scale reproduction of the Paramount Press Book. And I love the cover art.
Yeah, I think I can reevaluate MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS, seeing as how I have a copy that probably bests the theatrical print I saw, even if I’d been ten rows back, center of the auditorium.
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