Kenneth Branagh, currently basking in the glow of Cinderella's success, is in talks with 20th Century Fox to direct an adaptation of Agatha Christie's essential detective novel Murder on the Orient Express. The book has been adapted many times over, but no feature film has been produced of the property since 1974's excellent Sidney Lumet version, starring Albert Finney as the egg-headed, fastidious little Belgian investigator Hercule Poirot, and co-starring little known names like, oh, Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman, Sean Connery, Anthony Perkins, Michael York, Vanessa Redgrave, Jacqueline Bisset and Martin Balsam.
Here's the summary, for any newborn babies who have maybe never heard of this book:
Just after midnight, the famous Orient Express is stopped in its tracks by a snowdrift. By morning, the millionaire Samuel Edward Ratchett lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. One of his fellow passengers must be the murderer.
Isolated by the storm, detective Hercule Poirot must find the killer among a dozen of the dead man's enemies, before the murderer decides to strike again . . .
Juicy, right? So juicy. It's an incredibly clever mystery, one that can be revisited time and again and never shows its seams. Though I hesitate to get ahead of myself here, if the new film is a success, we could start a whole new franchise of modern, big screen Poirot and Miss Marple mysteries, and that is a world I want to live in. Imagine seeing Death on the Nile and The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side in theaters today? Dream.
Now, who shall be our next Poirot? Finney was wonderful, but Suchet's my jam. (Psst - all eleven series of Suchet's Poirot are available to stream on Netflix.) What about Stanley Tucci? Wouldn't he be divine?
Murder on the Orient Express is being produced by Ridley Scott and Simon Kinberg. Green Lantern, Prometheus 2, Everwood and Smallville writer Michael Green is writing the screenplay.