DEATH ON THE NILE, 1978
Cast: Peter Ustinov, Jane Birkin, Lois Chiles, Better Davis, Mia Farrow, David Niven
Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot has a set of murder suspects on a boat in the Nile after a rich heiress is killed.
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The classic ďwhodunitĒ mystery returns in another adaptation of Agatha Chrisitieís novel, Death on the Nile, which brings back popular Belgian detective Hercule Poirot who was played six times by Peter Ustinov. The film contains an ensemble cast of talented A-list stars, at least at the time, which included Bette Davis, Mia Farrow and David Niven, all playing complex characters with a probable cause for committing murder.
Like any great murder mystery, the film starts off with, well, a murder involving one of the passengers on the ship, Linnet Ridgeway (Chiles) who is married to Simon Doyle (Simon MacCorkindale). He was once the fiancť to Jackie, another passenger, who is now bitter with the two and has the most likely reason for committing the murder. However, as detective Poirot discovers during his investigation, everyone has a reason, and despite his best effort, itís becoming more and more challenging to find the culprit.
As he deduces the motivation behind several of the characters for committing murder, the film shift to a scene placing the character at the scene of the crime, as if they were the ones who did it. Itís interesting to see all play a role in what might have been their attempt to kill, particularly since each one is entertaining to watch.
Thatís part of the appeal to Death on the Nile. Itís a charming movie with plenty of eccentric and likable characters that provide fun entertainment. Bette Davies is delightfully mysterious as a rich elder with a habit of stealing. There is a subplot involving Linnetís jewelry in which Marie Van Schuyler (Davies) is determined to retrieve from the womanís body. This causes suspicion for Poirot suspecting that Schuylerís motive was to gain the jewelry.
There is plenty to admire about this film. The location for one provides an excellent and exotic background. It adds to the mysterious nature of the film, and more importantly, the characters. Agatha Christieís novels have always involved exotic locations that part of the intrigue and charm of her stories, and have added a visual treat to see on film.
The climax of the film comes when Poirot reveals who the killer is, and honestly, it was a surprise. There were so many people that were likely to have done it, that for this particular character to be the killer, you feel as if you should have known that from the beginning. But through solid and witty writing, and excellent directing, the film keeps the killer at the forefront without drawing too much attention to him, or her. Death on the Nile is a fun film and easy to watch, mostly because of the eccentric characters played by the top notch ensemble cast. Itís one of the many films based on the Christieís novel, and certainly one of the most entertaining whodunit films. If you havenít seen it yet, take a look, itís worth a watch.