Murder on the Orient Express (1974, CD
B Music: B
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
- Nicholas Sheffo