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Category:    Home > Reviews > Mystery > Soundtrack > Murder On The Orient Express (CD Soundtrack/1974)

Murder on the Orient Express  (1974, CD soundtrack)


Sound: B     Music: B



A whole new generation of great Classical (and classy) mystery films were launched thanks to Sidney Lumet’s 1974 version of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express.  It is one of the few all-star cast films that actually works and knows how to pull all of its talent together.  Besides the fine screenplay by Paul Dehn (an ace genre writer, whose key work can be found in the 1964 James Bond film Goldfinger and the better sequels to the original Planet of the Apes), some amazing production design, and top flight producing, there is the great soundtrack music by Richard Rodney Bennett.


Bennett had already made a reputation with fine soundtracks like that for John Schlesinger’s Far From The Madding Crowd, showing he could find the right music to support ambitious and large-scale projects that still had much substance.  He was one of the most ideal composer choices of the day and this worked out well, though the way he was chosen had to do with a suggestion to the producers by no less than Stephen Soundheim.


Capitol Records originally issued the score on vinyl, and DRG has done a fine CD reissue that will make fans of Bennet, the film, Christie, the period, and of Mystery films all very happy.  The sound is very good, with a nice fullness that does not distort or never sound either harsh or strained.  The Royal Opera House Orchestra, Convent Garden (lead by Charles Taylor), conducted by Marcus Dods, is played with just the right temperament.  It flows very well and makes you want to see the film, or see it again, depending on your experience.


Too bad it is not on DVD yet, and it has never been issued in a stereo version on home video to begin with.  Still, Paramount would only issue it in Dolby Digital 5.1 anyhow, if that.  This would not capture the music as well as it is captured here.  The music slyly switches between being period music of the 1930s and punctuating scenes in that style when necessary.  Bennett even adds new liner notes that are worth a good read.


The result is a classy soundtrack volume all film libraries should strongly consider owning.  DGR has also issued the soundtrack for the Christie/Hercule Poirot film Evil Under The Sun, the grossly underrated third of the theatrical films done by the same producers.  This is not the original music RCA issued of actual Cole Porter recordings, but a first-time issuing of John Lanchberry’s scoring of Porter’s songs for the film.  Let’s hope DRG keeps issuing great Mystery music scores like this one.  If they keep this up, they’ll have a nice niche to theirselves before anyone else realizes it.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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