Jealousy, murder and sweeping landscapes swirl together in Kenneth Branagh’s new adaptation of Death On The Nile, one of Agatha Christie’s classic mystery stories featuring Hercule Poirot. While holidaying on the Nile in Egypt, the world-renowned detective has to solve a murder that results from an ill-fated love triangle.
Director Branagh once again takes on the mantle of the slightly ridiculous detective (following his brilliant turn in 2017's Murder On The Orient Express – more on that in a minute), and he's joined by a star-studded Hollywood cast that includes Annette Bening (Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool), Armie Hammer (Call Me By Your Name), Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman) and Letitia Wright (Black Panther). A number of British stars also make an appearance, including Russell Brand, Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders and relative newcomer Tom Bateman (TV’s Da Vinci’s Demons).
This new take on a classic will join a long tradition of murder mysteries that have been captured on film, so we thought we’d round up half-a-dozen murderously watchable ‘whodunit’ movies. Whether you’re a mystery aficionado or new to the genre, this will set you up for the release of Death On The Nile on 9th October. Is your favourite on the list? Read on to find out…
1. Murder On The Orient Express (1974)
Sidney Lumet’s 1974 adaptation of what is arguably Agatha Christie’s most famous novel could be said to have created the blueprint for all future murder mysteries on the screen. To bring the book to life, Lumet rounded up a host of stars, including Albert Finney (as Christie’s iconic Belgian sleuth), Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman, Jacqueline Bisset, Jean Pierre Cassel, Sean Connery, Anthony Perkins and Vanessa Redgrave. Following a brutal stabbing on board the titular train, the passengers each take turns giving up clues when they’re grilled by our moustachioed detective. A commercial and critical success (it was nominated for six Oscars), this classic remains a perennial favourite for murder mystery fans.
2. Death On The Nile (1978)
If you don’t already know the story but don’t mind knowing ‘whodunit’ before you see Branagh’s new iteration, watching John Guillermin’s 1970s version will make for an interesting comparison. Its all-star cast includes Peter Ustinov as Poirot, along with Bette Davis, Mia Farrow, Jane Birkin, Angela Lansbury, Maggie Smith and David Niven. Part of the joy of watching movies made in the 1970s but set in the past is that you get all the glitz, glamour and haircuts that characterised that decade, despite the action being set decades before.
3. Gosford Park (2001)
Director Robert Altman turns up the ‘cool’ for this twisty tale, which takes place over the course of a weekend at a stately home splitting at the seams with the size of its ensemble cast. National treasures abound, with roles for Michael Gambon, Helen Mirren, Maggie Smith, Richard E Grant and Kristin Scott Thomas, while Stephen Fry brings some light relief from the tension as an amusing anti-Poirot. You can’t help but get sucked in by the personal dramas and class struggles going on behind the scenes of the main event of this weekend in the country: murder.
4. 8 Women / 8 Femmes (2002)
If you like your murder with a side of 1950s-style song and dance, served up by a cast of great female actors, then the wry comedy/drama/musical/whodunit pastiche 8 Women (8 Femmes in its native French) is for you. Acting legend Catherine Deneuve and Isabelle Huppert (Elle, Greta) play a mother and daughter who, along with other female family members, become murder suspects when the only man in the house is found dead in his bed. This entertaining romp received many plaudits on its release, including a Silver Bear for the all-female cast’s outstanding artistic contribution at the Berlin International Film Festival.
5. Murder On The Orient Express (2017)
Why not get in the mood for Branagh’s upcoming film by watching, well, some more Branagh? His adaptation of Murder On The Orient Express packs plenty of emotional punch, fun accents and tongue-in-cheek scenery chewing from Poirot (played by Branagh himself). The film is also a veritable Who's Who of familiar names, including Judi Dench, Olivia Colman, Penélope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Daisy Ridley, Leslie Odom Jr., Josh Gad, Michelle Pfeiffer, Lucy Boynton and Johnny Depp. What’s not to like?
6. Knives Out (2019)
Writer/director Rian Johnson’s take on the whodunit genre owes a lot to the stories and atmosphere of Agatha Christie’s books, and proved that audiences still love a good old-fashioned murder mystery. It’s got all the ingredients: the central crime, the gradual reveal of each character’s potential motive, and the usual twists and turns that keep you guessing about who the culprit is. Add to this some charismatic performances from the likes of Toni Collette, Chris Evans, Daniel Craig, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon and Christopher Plummer, and you’ve got the makings of a modern classic.
Death On The Nile arrives at Cineworld cinemas on 9th October. What’s your favourite whodunit movie? Share your thoughts with us and other movie fans @Cineworld.