Agatha Christie's Death on the Nile
Starz / Anchor Bay // PG // $14.98 // June 8, 2004
Review by Gil Jawetz | posted April 14, 2001
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Graphical Version

Agatha Christie's mysteries have spawned a lot of film adaptations and have a large following. Death on the Nile (1978), like Murder on the Orient Express, features a large cast of famous actors: Mia Farrow, Peter Ustinov, Bette Davis, Angela Lansbury, George Kennedy, Jack Warden, David Niven, and Olivia Hussey. The plot, of course, involves a murder in a closely confined space (a boat on the Nile) with everyone a suspect. Famed inspector Hercule Poirot (Ustinov) has the task of clearing things up and does so with typical Christie slyness. For fans of the Poirot series or of Christie in general, Death on the Nile should be a classic. For the uninitiated, however, the film might seem slow, silly, and not very well developed. The characters are mostly shallow, the plot carbon copied from other stories, and the actors hammy as a Cuban sandwich. Farrow is pretty creepy as a jilted lover, but Davis and Lansbury are shameless in their scenery chewing. Kennedy seems really out of place. Niven plays with his usual tuxedoed coolness.

VIDEO:
The video is anamorphic and looks pretty good. Some dirt is on the print, but nothing tragic. The colors of the film are muted, mostly the earth tones of the desert.

AUDIO:
The audio is Dolby Digital mono and works fine.

EXTRAS:
The main extra is a 24 minute behind the scenes piece from the time of the film's release. Fans will enjoy watching the boat being constructed and the cast preparing for the film.

Also included are some of the strangest features I've ever seen on disc: interviews with stars Peter Ustinov and Jane Birkin conducted (possibly) for Spanish television. The interviewer speaks Spanish and the actors cope the best they can, Ustinov by responding in Spanish and Birkin in English. Very weird.

A trailer and some talent bios are also included.

FINAL THOUGHTS:
Not being a fan of this style it's a little tough to recommend, but certainly those who appreciate Agatha Christie stories will love Death on the Nile.



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