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Murder On The Orient Express (2017)

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1 hour ago, starri said:

Kenneth Branagh has apparently remade this. Again.

After an Oscar-winning version from Sidney Lumet, and a terrific TV adaptation with David Suchet, did we really need this?  Especially, did we need this with Johnny Depp?

I believe Depp is the murder victim so hopefully he's not in it long.  That said, I'm actually interested in this movie.  It has a pretty good cast as long as the movie doesn't implode by having both Depp and Gad in the same movie (I really don't care for either of them) and Kenneth Branagh seems like a good fit as both director and star.  

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Didn't even know that train still existed.

In the era of cheap airfares?

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55 minutes ago, scrb said:

Didn't even know that train still existed.

There is AN Orient Express that uses some of the train cars from the original.  But it's not so much for transportation as it is for the experience, kind of like a cruise.  There's one journey that goes from London to Venice and a second one that goes from Paris to Istanbul.  It's also REALLY expensive.  London-Venice takes about 24 hours, and it starts at about $2000 for a ticket.

When they were promoting the Poirot adaptation of the novel, Masterpiece Mystery and ITV sent David Suchet on it and filmed it for an hour special.  It was actually pretty interesting because he was clearly having a blast doing it.

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I'm excited for this, except for Johnny Depp but I hope @Matt K is right about his screen time.  I guess I'm so used to David Suchet as Poirot that I was taken aback by how Branagh looks; not sure about his moustache yet.

I will watch pretty much any adaptation of Agatha Christies works, I love her stories. Maybe if this does well we can get more big screen versions of her books. I think Ben Affleck is doing a version of Witness Against the Prosecution, but I would love some big screen love for Marple and Tommy & Tuppence too.

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I think the Lumet film is one of the best films of all time, definitely my favorite Christie adaptation ever. That said, I am excited to see what Branagh will do with it--I love Dead Again, so I know he can bring the suspense and atmosphere that a Christie adaptation requires. If Depp is onscreen as long as Widmark was in the Lumet film, I'll be okay with his casting.

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I just don't have a lot of faith that Depp's ego would allow him to only appear in the first quarter or third of the movie.  Also, I can't think of a movie he's done in about fifteen years where he wasn't mugging for the camera constantly.  That, and the flashbacks to Dark Shadows that I get from the pairing of Depp and Pfeiffer (and I adore the latter), just make me fearful that we're in for...if not exactly Tim Burton-level whimsy, then at least a lighter tone (Branagh's Poirot is giving me that vibe too).  And this is one of Christie's darkest and most atmospheric stories.

I'm looking at Poirot and I'm not seeing anything but Gilderoy Lockhart with a silly moustache.

I want this to be good so badly, but I'm wary.

ETA:  I also LOATHE Josh Gad.

Edited by starri
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I'm afraid I'm in the "What: AGAIN?!?" club.

I read it when I was a kid, before I ever saw the film.  That book was one of her bests, right up there with And Then There Were None/Ten Little IndiansCurtain, and -- perhaps her greatest (albeit never adapted*)The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.

There's only one reason I won't be outside protesting (of course I won't be inside watching, either).  A few years ago, I was talking "narrative thread" to an undergrad writing class.  I said Dame Agatha wrote the best plots ever: clean and sharp and direct.

They all said, Never heard of her.

I cried all the way to my car.

Now, at least, I can throw out, "She wrote the book for the last movie Olaf was in."

 

*It was part of the Suchet series, but juiceless -- probably necessarily so -- compared to the gutpunch of that book's ending.

Edited by voiceover · Reason: Eh, Suchet.
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It was darker and the ending was less about the famous reveal and more about Poirot's moral dilemma of whether to turn in the murderer even though the victim was a monster who gotten away with a horrible crime. It also had a pre-fame Jessica Chastain as Mary Debenham.

Lumet admitted he did the first adaptation as change of pace from the gritty crime dramas he had made and is best known for and just wanted to do something "gay"(the old definition meaning "happy"). It was all about nostalgia and glamour. When Hitchcock composer Bernard Hermann saw the picture he complained about the light sounding score "This is supposed to be a Train of Death!"

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My question is whether this movie is engaging to the average movie goer now.  The 1974 version is an excellent movie, but the pace is so much more measured than modern films.  All the versions of Poirot that I've seen tend to be on the stately side.  If they can make it engaging, then I think the story is worth telling again.

Though if someone tries to remake The Maltese Falcon I'm out.

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On 5/12/2017 at 10:30 AM, VCRTracking said:

It was darker and the ending was less about the famous reveal and more about Poirot's moral dilemma of whether to turn in the murderer even though the victim was a monster who gotten away with a horrible crime. 

If you're referring to my "juiceless" comment -- I was referencing the Suchet version of Murder of Roger Ackroyd.

But I didn't care for the Suchet Express either.  That was a change to please modern sensibilities.  Christie didn't have Poirot agonize over it.  He turned down Ratchett's request to look into the threatening letters; then 24 hours later, was happily poking through the red herring swamp that drowned the man.  He'd been a cop before he'd been a detective -- it was THAT sensibility that colored his career after.

As far as the previous commenter's "Can they make it engaging" query -- not intending to sound snotty here, but if by "engaging" you mean, hand-held cameras, CGI, and scenes lasting 20 seconds or less, then heaven help us all.

Edited by voiceover
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While I love the book I was never a fan of the Suchet movie, so I' excited about this. I think that the recent tv mini-series based of "And Then There Were None" was fantastic. 

That being said, Depp gives me pause. It's been a long time since he's played anything but "Johnny Depp as...". Good to see they're trying to diversify the cast thought. 

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1 hour ago, callie lee 29 said:

That being said, Depp gives me pause. It's been a long time since he's played anything but "Johnny Depp as...". Good to see they're trying to diversify the cast thought. 

I hate the fact that Depp in in Fantastic Beasts, & I hate the fact that he's in this movie. Rachett/Cassetti isn't quirky, & quirky is all that Depp can do any more. He's going to mug his way through that part, which will hopefully be very small. A few years ago he tried to do a remake of "The Thin Man". & I thought I would have to hunt him down & kill him to stop it. I can just see him destroying Nick Charles.

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9 hours ago, voiceover said:

If you're referring to my "juiceless" comment -- I was referencing the Suchet version of Murder of Roger Ackroyd.

My bad. The adaptation failed in the casting of a certain character. The actor they had was adequate but it would have been more clever if they had gotten actors who played a "similar" role on television that were already well known to both British TV viewers and Americans who watch Mystery! on PBS, and(checking Wikipedia) are still very much alive. It would have been the most of audacious use of typecasting. It'd be like, if there was a movie that had a handsome British secret agent NOT named James Bond, but you still cast (young)Sean Connery or (young)Roger Moore or Pierce Brosnan in the role.

Edited by VCRTracking

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Depp was actually quite menacing as Whitey Bulger in Black Mass, so I am keeping my fingers crossed for his Ratchett. 

Edited by Sharpie66
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On 5/13/2017 at 4:19 PM, voiceover said:

As far as the previous commenter's "Can they make it engaging" query -- not intending to sound snotty here, but if by "engaging" you mean, hand-held cameras, CGI, and scenes lasting 20 seconds or less, then heaven help us all.

No, I have no desire to see it look like a scene from Transformers.  I mean that the material is a bit stagey, in that it consists primarily of people sitting down and talking in cramped quarters.  That can make for a good suspense movie, or it could make for a boring one, depending on how it's handled.

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On 5/12/2017 at 1:23 AM, voiceover said:

perhaps her greatest (albeit never adapted*)The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.

The conceit of this story is the style of its narration, with the protagonist playing the role of Hastings 2.0. Apart from the "It was his sled" trope, it would be very hard to pull this "twist" on a stand-alone film.

The closest thing that could mimic this story is if a new Doctor Who companion was revealed - at the last episode of the series - to be the Big Bad all along. 

Edited by Katsullivan
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2 hours ago, Katsullivan said:

The conceit of this story is the style of its narration, with the protagonist playing the role of Hastings 2.0. Apart from the "It was his sled" trope, it would be very hard to pull this "twist" on a stand-alone film.

The closest thing that could mimic this story is if a new Doctor Who companion was revealed - at the last episode of the series - to be the Big Bad all along. 

Right.  *spoiler alert*!!

I think if you reread my post, that it wasn't a request for a film of that book.

Not everything has to be a movie.

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I wonder how they plan on doing the beginning of the movie? IMO, I can't imagine how anything is going to top they way Sidney Lumet set up the story in the original movie, that was a masterpiece.

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I know the story and the solution but I will be curious to see how Branagh changes things. Michelle Pfeiffer seems perfect in Lauren Bacall's old role and hey, who doesn't want to see Johnny Depp get stabbed to death at this point?

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As soon as I heard Daisy Ridley and Olivia Colman were part of the cast, I was in.

I plan on watching the original movie in the near future.

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I still don't think his mustache is right, it's not neat enough.

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Already not feeling Branaugh as Poirot (seems a bit cartoonish) but everything else has me excited for this.

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Judi Dench, Olivia Colman in a major motion picture, and Daisy Ridley in one of her first "Not Rey" roles?  Yeah, I'm checking this out!

That said, I don't know if I'm impressed or scared by Kenneth Brannaugh's mustache.

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I'm in. Strangely enough, Murder on the Orient Express isn't my favourite Christie film. The atmosphere is wonderful, but once you know the solution, there's little in the way of re-readability.

Book spoiler (vague, but avoid if you want to be completely unspoiled)

Quote

 

Spoiler

Most of the "clues" are just red herrings, which feels a bit like a cheat. I remember on my first read I was fascinated by the woman in the kimono. Who was she? Why did the kimono get left on Poirot's case? Who put it there? We never get answers, because it's all irrelevant anyway.

 

That said, I'm looking forward to seeing how they'll handle the morass of clues and character interactions. Already the promise of a Ratchett/Mrs Hubbard encounter and the pointed absence of the Countess in that extended POV shot speaks volumes. 

Edit: I accidentally posted the spoiler as a quote; now it's stuck as a spoiler inside a quote. Carry on...

Edited by Ravenya003
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12 hours ago, Ravenya003 said:

I'm in. Strangely enough, Murder on the Orient Express isn't my favourite Christie film. The atmosphere is wonderful, but once you know the solution, there's little in the way of re-readability.

I think part of that is it has an omniscient narrator, while most of the short stories and novels are told from someone else's POV, Hastings being the most frequent. Sherlock Holmes stories wouldn't be the same if they weren't from Watson's perspective.  Re-reading the very first Poirot novel, "The Mysterious Affair at Styles", even though I know the solution, it's still enjoyable,  because seeing it through Hasting's eyes you feel part of the story. You read his biased opinions and thoughts on all the characters(of course he's always captivated by an attractive woman) It's amusing to see him make the wrong guesses and his reactions to Poirot's odd digressions and focus on seemingly unimportant details.

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I finally figured out what is really bugging me about the moustache, it's supposed to be black, why isn't it black? 

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On 6/1/2017 at 9:27 AM, Spartan Girl said:

"My name is Hercule Poirot and I am probably the greatest detective the world."  A bit of a Clouseau vibe there.

Hmph.  Exactly.  I call bullshit, AGAIN; any qualifier to "greatest detective" is something Christie's Poirot would have never, ever used.

The Poirotesque character in Murder by Death, sure.

10 hours ago, GaT said:

I finally figured out what is really bugging me about the moustache, it's supposed to be black, why isn't it black? 

Yes.  That was a key point in Curtain.

This one makes Branagh look like the guy from Shakey's Pizza.

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18 hours ago, voiceover said:

The Poirotesque character in Murder by Death, sure.

That is who he reminds me of, not the "real" Poirot but the parody Poirot. Is this meant to be a comedy? Because no one else looks like they are in a comedy but Branaugh does.

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46 minutes ago, Mabinogia said:

That is who he reminds me of, not the "real" Poirot but the parody Poirot. Is this meant to be a comedy? Because no one else looks like they are in a comedy but Branaugh does.

There's always been the foppish side of Poirot, which is both sincere vanity, and his knowledge that it causes some people to underestimate him as a "silly little man".  Not quite the ass Sir Percy is in Scarlet Pimpernel, though.

From the looks of the trailer, though, Branagh may be leaning that way.  Maybe playing humorless Swedish cops made him want to make a big change.

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6 hours ago, AimingforYoko said:

Did anybody else catch a vibe in the trailer between Daisy Ridley's governess and Leslie Odom, Jr.'s doctor?

Definitely. Which would make sense if they've combined Doctor Constantine with Colonel Arbuthnot. (According to IMDB, he's credited as "Doctor Arbuthnot".

Adaptations have cut out/combined characters in the past: the ITV version also made Doctor Constantine one of the twelve main suspects in order to cut out Hardman (and then gave Hardman's backstory to Foscarelli). 

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9 hours ago, Ravenya003 said:
16 hours ago, AimingforYoko said:

Did anybody else catch a vibe in the trailer between Daisy Ridley's governess and Leslie Odom, Jr.'s doctor?

Definitely. Which would make sense if they've combined Doctor Constantine with Colonel Arbuthnot. (According to IMDB, he's credited as "Doctor Arbuthnot".

Adaptations have cut out/combined characters in the past: the ITV version also made Doctor Constantine one of the twelve main suspects in order to cut out Hardman (and then gave Hardman's backstory to Foscarelli). 

From the Entertainment Weekly cover story:

Quote

"He's a black doctor in the early 20th century" Odom says, "What kind of injustices might have he endured? What would that man have to be made of to get to where he was?" And how the would other characters react to Arbuthnot being in a relationship with Mary Debenham? "Obviously that would create a lot of trouble for them at that time."

Thinking about it like that, Odom's version would have even more reason to be indignant and defensive than Connery's pompous colonel. In the older movie I wondered why he wanted to keep his relationship with Vanessa Redgrave's character a secret? They're both adult's. What was the big deal?

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2 hours ago, VCRTracking said:

Thinking about it like that, Odom's version would have even more reason to be indignant and defensive than Connery's pompous colonel. In the older movie I wondered why he wanted to keep his relationship with Vanessa Redgrave's character a secret? They're both adult's. What was the big deal?

She was still married & waiting for her divorce to be finalized.

Quote

"He's a black doctor in the early 20th century" Odom says, "What kind of injustices might have he endured? What would that man have to be made of to get to where he was?" And how the would other characters react to Arbuthnot being in a relationship with Mary Debenham? "Obviously that would create a lot of trouble for them at that time."

WTH does racism have to do with the story? Why are they even creating this plot that has nothing to do with the murder? (which is the point of the movie) I don't care if they make any of the characters black, but not if they're going to add plotlines that take away from the Agatha Christie story.

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5 hours ago, GaT said:

She was still married & waiting for her divorce to be finalized.

I forgot that.

 

5 hours ago, GaT said:

WTH does racism have to do with the story? Why are they even creating this plot that has nothing to do with the murder? (which is the point of the movie) I don't care if they make any of the characters black, but not if they're going to add plotlines that take away from the Agatha Christie story.

But if you are going to make the character black you can't ignore the reality of what that's like in the 1930s or pretend he wouldn't be treated differently in high class society.  I don't think it's so much as an added plotline but more a character or that it would take away from the story. It's and I know there are people who complain about movies adding diversity for it's own sake but if the basis of  the complaint is "Why can't it just be all white people?" I'm not going to take that side.

Here's what it said in the article just before the quote I posted above:

Quote

(Michael)Green also dragged Christie into the modern era. "Christie had a tendency to fill her books with 60-year-old English white people, which only takes you so far in terms of interest and casting." the writer says. Cruz's missionary has been changed fro Swedish to Spanish, for instance and and Italian character has become Cuban. Most notably , the characrer of Colonel  Arbuthnot was updated from a white English soldier to an American doctor of color(Odom).

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2 hours ago, VCRTracking said:

(Michael)Green also dragged Christie into the modern era. "Christie had a tendency to fill her books with 60-year-old English white people, which only takes you so far in terms of interest and casting." the writer says. Cruz's missionary has been changed fro Swedish to Spanish, for instance and and Italian character has become Cuban. Most notably , the characrer of Colonel  Arbuthnot was updated from a white English soldier to an American doctor of color(Odom).

 

And I have no problem with any of these changes because they don't change the story. I'm also not thrilled that they apparently combined the Colonel & the Doctor into one character, they both served a specific purpose.

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47 minutes ago, doram said:

How did Sidney Lumet set it up? I haven't watched an of the adaptations of this story. 

The whole setup is shown via newspaper articles, the movie is worth watching just for the beginning.

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2 hours ago, doram said:

I'm not sure I get this...

  Reveal hidden contents

The answer is exactly what you describe - the why? A deliberate red herring placed for Poirot's benefit. The who put it there? (Anyone really - since they are all in it together.)

It's not a dangling thread that is not resolved. 

I didn't describe it as a dangling thread, just a piece of the puzzle that isn't as important as we're led to believe. And that (to me anyway) doesn't make for a totally satisfying resolution. 

I suppose for me

Spoiler

the story is limited because once you know the solution, nothing about the mystery (all those clues and hints) are particularly clever, just a bunch of red herrings that the suspects desperately throw around the train in order to get Poirot hopelessly confused. During my first read, I was trying to find the logic in them, only to finally be told there wasn't any. It's not a dealbreaker in terms of enjoying the story, but when compared to Endless Night or And Then There Were None, in which all the clues point to the killer and the solution in ingenious ways, it's not Christie at her best. 

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It's funny when I see Sidney Lumet talk about wanting to do something light when the story he wanted to adapt has to have one of the saddest underpinnings ever written by Christie. She took an already tragic real life story(the Lindbergh baby kidnapping and murder) and made it four times as tragic.  

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I was excited by the cast but now I'm bummed after the trailer.

The floating names, the music, the quick montage... What was that?... 

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That trailer was... interesting. Certainly got my attention at any rate. And I agree with everyone else who said that Poirot would never sport grey mustache or say he was probably the greatest detective in the world. But as for interracial romance in the 20s, I hope they're taking a leaf from Merlin and Still-Star-Crossed and color-blind casting rather than dealing with the real-life politics of it which will just drag the story down, imo. 

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I'm actually very cautiously optimistic about this movie, as a big fan of the original book, and the 1970s adaptation. Granted, I think some part of the 70s movie haven't really held up super well and some of it comes off as a little silly now, but it has great atmosphere and performances and is a pretty solid adaptation of the book. I like the trailer, and I think the changes we have seen (like changing the races of a few characters) will work out just fine. The only real changes those would lead to are the Colonel and the Doctor being put together and clearly having a different backstory, and people being dicks to the Italian guy for the crime of being Italian. I guess they can just move from going on about Italian tempers to Cuban tempers. I can get into that. I actually like when they add more POC into a previously white only period drama, because it can add some new dynamics to the story, even if its just the subtext. As long as the interracial dating stuff doesn't take over the story, I think it could be a good subplot.

I'm mostly excited about this because of the great cast, and the fact that this will finally wash the taste of the awful Suchet adaptation of the novel from a few years ago. And I usually love the Suchet adaptations, and, to me, he is Poirot, but I couldn't stand that version of the story. I think the biggest issue in the 70s movie was that they tried to play too much of it for comedy, but I could excuse it because I liked most of it. The Suchet version went the other way and went SUPER dark, but without a super compelling cast or atmosphere. Like, the freaking movie starts with a woman being stoned to death for adultery (if I remember right) and its supposed to be a parallel to the main story? Huh? And Poirot having this huge crisis of faith just seemed contrived and stupid. He is always a devoted Catholic, but he understands moral greyness after all. And it makes everyone way more unlikable than they should have been. Plus, it was literally too dark for me. Turn on a light damn it!  

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6 hours ago, starri said:

I might give the edge to The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side.

Yeah, the real life story the Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side is really tragic and sad(I mean for christ sake when doctors tell you have to stay in quarantine, stay in effing quarantine!)

Reading Sidney Lumet's book "Making Movies" where he talks how he filmed each scene where Poirot interrogates each suspect twice in two different ways. First he filmed the scene regularly for when the scene occurs in the story, The second time he shot the actor's close up with a wide angle lens for the big summation scene in the end and they cut back to it in flashback and the suspect now looks slightly distorted. Here are two other excerpts from the book:
 

Quote

 

A charming thing happened at the first reading of Murder on the Orient Express. Five stars of the English theatre were appearing in the West End at the time — John Gielgud, Wendy Hiller, Vanessa Redgrave, Colin Blakely, and Rachel Roberts. Sitting with them were six movie stars: Sean Connery, Lauren Bacall, Richard Widmark, Tony Perkins, Jacqueline Bisset, and Michael York; Ingrid Bergman and Albert Finney bridged both worlds.

They began to read. I couldn’t hear anything. Everyone was murmuring their lines so quietly they were inaudible.

I finally figured out what was happening. The movie stars were in awe of the theatre stars; the theatre stars were in awe of the movie stars. A classic case of stage fright.

I stopped the reading and, saying that I couldn’t hear a thing, asked them to please talk to one another as if we were at Gielgud’s house for dinner. John said he’d never had such illustrious guests to dinner, and off we went.

 

and

Quote

In Murder on the Orient Express, I wanted Ingrid Bergman to play the Russian Princess Dragomiroff. She wanted to play the retarded Swedish maid. I wanted Ingrid Bergman. I let her play the maid. She won an Academy Award. I bring this up because self-knowledge is so important in so many ways to an actor.

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We can change a character into a person of color (which is great!) but we can't change the color of Poirot's mustache? What gives!? [end sarcastic mode] [Just in case]

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