Browse all reviews by letter     A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0 - 9

UK 1978
Directed by
John Guillermin
140 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars

Death On The Nile

On paper John Guillermin’s screen adaptation of the Agatha Christie whodunit, Death on The Nile, has a lot going for it – a screenplay by Anthony Shaffer, cinematography by Jack Cardiff, a score by Nino Rota and a top draw cast that includes Peter Ustinov, Mia Farrow,  Maggie Smith, Angela Lansbury, Bette Davis, Jane Birkin, George Kennedy, and David Niven. Nothwithstanding, it is a tepid affair.

I haven’t read Christie’s novel so don’t know what has been changed but from the get-go Guillermin fails to establish a compelling raison d’être for the assemblage of potential perps on the Nile riverboat or to sustain our interest in them once the murders begin. Everything in the film is about the destination, none of it about the journey.

Either Shaffer’s text is lacking in zing or the cast is, or really both, for aside from Mia Farrow who is so thin in her silky evening gowns that one feels cold looking at her, they do little but fulfill the parts allotted to them. Angela Lansbury, Maggie Smith and Bette Davis are mildly amusing caricatures but Jack Warden is mis-cast as a German doctor and David Niven has nothing to do but trail around with Ustinov in order to give Poirot (or “Porridge” to cite an over-exposed joke) the opportunity to explain to us his ongoing deductions. Ustinov is better suited to the role than was Albert Finney in the first of Christie adaptations, Sidney Lumet’s Murder on the Orient Express  (1974) but like the rest of the film even he leaves us wanting at least a tad more verve.




Want something different?

random vintage best worst