Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Death on the Nile (1978) - ★★★★½

Director: John Guillermin
Writers: Anthony Shaffer (screenplay), Agatha Christie (novel)
Stars: Peter Ustinov, Bette Davis, Angela Lansbury, Maggie Smith, David Niven, Mia Farrow, Jane Birkin, George Kennedy

What a cast! Murder on the Orient Express was my favorite Agatha Christie film adaptation, until I saw John Guillermin's 'Death on the Nile.' The acting, the story, the twist, the suspense! Everything about this film is spectacular.

Louise Bourget is one of the most hated women in England and America. When she boards a cruise boat on the Nile for her honeymoon, poor unsuspecting Louise doesn't realize that she is surrounded by people who all wish her dead. When she is found dead in her bed, shot from close-range, a classic 'Whodunnit' emerges, where Inspector Poirot (Peter Ustinov), and his little gray-cells must find the killer, or killers. 

The brilliance of the film can be attributed to the incredible performances by this star-studded cast. Angela Lansbury actually stole the show as the drunken erotic novelist. Bette Davis played a stuck-up diva perfectly, most likely because it was pretty much based on herself (I kid, I kid). Maggie Smith was also one of the highlights as a woman who is fed up with everything, all the time. Mia Farrow played the insane part amazingly. As a whole, this ensemble cast mesh into a breathtaking finale, with each character complimenting each other perfectly. 

What amazes me about these films is that they were all A-List celebrities in their own rights, yet they don't mind stepping down into a supporting role. It's something that is so rare these days. Seldom do superstars perform in a movie where they take a backseat and play a small role. You wouldn't see Angelina Jolie or Julia Roberts star in a film like this. 

Overall, I was riveted from start to finish. Death on the Nile is a masterpiece of the mystery genre, and should keep anyone who loves a good 'Whodunnit' extremely entertained. With an ensemble cast to die for, great music, amazing cinematography, and a brilliant story, it's one of the most underrated gems.

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