Agatha Christie: one of the best authors of all time. Known for her complex characters, murder mysteries and mind bending twists, she is considered one of the most inspiring and influential novelists of the 20th century.
Case in point: the fourth adaptation of one of her most popular novels, Murder on the Orient Express, arrives this November. It follows in the tracks of the 1974 film, the 2001 TV film and the 2010 TV special.
So, whilst one might believe they’ve seen this before, it’s important to know that the upcoming film, directed by Kenneth Branagh of Thor and Cinderella fame, will breathe new life into the novel.
With an all-star cast including Johnny Depp, Josh Gad, Michelle Pfeiffer, Judi Dench and Daisy Ridley, plus Branagh himself as legendary detective Hercule Poirot, this is definitely a film that looks to fit in with the rest of the classic Agatha Christie adaptations. To get you all geared up, we've picked our three favourites.
And Then There Were None (1945)
Possibly the most famous Agatha Christie story, And Then There Were None is regarded one of the best mysteries ever written, and naturally, there have been many film, TV and theatre adaptations.
We’re picking the 1945 version, which was the first adaptation of the book and one of the earlier Agatha Christie films. You know the story: ten strangers are brought to an island for different reasons by a mysterious host, and they all start to get killed off one by one. Through deduction, they realise that one of them is the killer.
It’s worth noting that it differs quite a lot from the book; some names of characters are changed (for example, Justice Lawrence J Wargrave was changed to Judge Francis J Quincannon). However, despite this, it still managed to perfectly capture the characters’ personalities and everything else that made the original novel so great.
Featuring a grand performance by Oscar winner Barry Fitzgerald, and another 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, this is also considered a classic for the ages.
Witness for the Prosecution (1957)
Considered possibly the best Agatha Christie adaptation, this is one of the most masterful murder mystery stories of all time, with a killer twist (pardon the pun!).
Sir Wilfrid Robarts (Charles Laughton), a barrister who is known to be ‘for the hopeless’, has to defend suspect Leonard Vole, who is accused of murdering his ex-wife. Whilst last year’s miniseries production from BBC was an excellent way of introducing the story to a modern audience, the 1957 film adaptation remains the original and the best. It's also considered by many people the greatest Agatha Christie film, with a standout performance from movie legend Marlene Dietrich.
Fascinatingly, it ends with a voiceover telling the viewer "the management of this theatre suggests that for the greater entertainment of your friends who have not yet seen the picture, you will not divulge to anyone the secret of the ending to Witness of the Prosecution".
Miraculously, the twist ending was indeed kept secret. This may have also lead to its reputation, with a deserved place in IMDb’s top 250 and 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, becoming not just one of the best Agatha Christie films ever, but also one of the best films ever made.
Murder on the Orient Express (2010)
Forever identified with the world of Agatha Christie, ITV's celebrated, long-running series Agatha Christie’s Poirot staged their own version of the classic story.
David Suchet’s performance as the titular character in this series that ran for 24 years is incredibly iconic, and in this episode he’s no different. Despite it retaining all of the classic Agatha Christie tropes, it also raises some surprising themes about moral judgements and law, which added to the story.
It was a very risky move, but for most viewers, director Philip Martin managed to pull it off. Whilst the 1974 version of Murder on the Orient Express is indeed excellent, we admire the 2010 adaptation more for attempting a different take on the story.
So those are the Agatha Christie films that took our breath away. Looking forward to seeing the mystery unfold on the big screen once again? Tweet us @Cineworld with your thoughts.
Murder on the Orient Express arrives in cinemas on 3rd November.
Jake Gibbard is a writer who blogs for Cineworld as part of our news team.