Sunday, April 29, 2012

Death on the Nile

Death on the Nile; crime, UK, 1978; D: John Guillermin, S: Peter Ustinov, Mia Farrow, Simon MacCorkindale, Lois Chiles, David Niven, Janet Birkin, George Kennedy, Bette Davis, Maggie Smith, Angela Lansbury, Jon Finch, Jack Warden

The famous detective Hercule Poirot enjoys a relaxing yacht trip through the Nile. Among the passengers are the rich Linnet and her poor husband Simon, who dumped his ex-girlfriend Jackie for her. In a moment of jealousy, Jackie shoots Simon in the leg, but regrets it, so the passengers have to calm her down. The next morning, Linnet is found dead, shot in the head. Several people are suspect, including Linnet's shady lawyer, Mrs. van Schuyler who wanted to steal her jewels, the maid and the doctor who wanted to sue her for libel. However, Poirot finds out that Simon and Jackie actually committed the murder.

Considered to be one of the best Agatha Christie adaptations involving her famous detective Hercule Poirot, along with Lumet's "Murder on the Orient Express", John Guillermin's "Death on the Nile" is today a rather stiff achievement at moments, but still fresh and interesting enough to engage the viewers. One of the founders of the 'whodunit?' crime mystery concept, that remained influential for several decades, obviously influencing "Columbo" and "Monk", Christie's novels were rarely adapted just right, which is why she was reluctant in approving her rights to anyone, and while "Nile" is still far from a great Hitchockian crime thriller, since it lacks true suspense and a tighter style, Peter Ustinov is truly fine as the sharp Poirot, whereas the ensemble cast also gives it backbone, especially the surprisingly charming Mia Farrow, the always charismatic David Niven and Jack Warden. Some of the far fetched, contriving elements are predictable - for instance, who would even consider committing murder while the legendary Poirot is on board? - yet the revelation of the murderer in the finale once again proves to be delicious, since you never know if you were deliberately mislead during several scenes in the storyline. A modest, but good fun.


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