When I was a teenager, it was a great honor for me to take my "Nana" out to the movies one night. The movie I had chosen, which I thought would appeal to her, was "Murder On The Orient Express".
Before we saw the movie, I read the three newspaper reviews available at that time in my area of Connecticut, and between the three of them, I was able to figure out the plot. But that didn't spoil my enjoyment of the film, because I was a big star-gazer back in those days and the Orient Express was packed with them.
At the time, I thought Albert Finney's performance was perfection and I remember being antagonistic towards the idea of Peter Ustinov taking over the role afterwards. However, as Time has passed, I find Finney too stiff in the role and my appreciation for Ustinov has grown at the same time. But they both still pale to the work of David Suchet in the TV Universe.
I've waited a long time, ever since David Suchet first started playing Hercule Poirot 21 years ago, for the official TV adaptation of Agatha Christie's "Murder On The Orient Express". And I finally got my chance Monday morning when I returned home from work. Sadly, it wasn't perfect, but then I once thought the movie from the early 1970's was perfect - but looking back on it now, Albert Finney as Poirot is the big flaw.
Still, that was an incredible cast back in those days - with Richard Widmark, Ingrid Bergman, Sean Connery, Lauren Bacall, John Gielgud, and Jacqueline Bisset, among so many other top name stars. For this production, we got Barbara Hershey, as well as Toby Jones, David Morrissey, Eileen Atkins, and Hugh Bonneville. And at least the changes made to Poirot's own character and motivations - as well as the combination of two key supporting players into one - weren't as drastic as that horrible TV version that starred Alfred Molina a few years ago.
But when I first heard the news of this production, I had my own dream cast for the roles. I rounded up the usual suspects as it were, but then decided to wait until I saw this new version first.
So here are the actors I envisioned and for which roles:
Well, duh. O'Bviously, there's no sense tampering with perfection!
XAVIER BOUC, Wagon-Lit director
PRINCESS DRAGOMIROFF, Russian countess in exile
HILDEGARD SCHMIDT, maid/cook
MARY DEBENHAM, governess
GRETA OHLSSON, nurse
Dame Judi Dench
ANTONIO FOSCARELLI, chauffeur
COLONEL JOHN ARBUTHNOT, military officer
EDWARD MASTERMAN, butler
HECTOR MacQUEEN, personal assistant
Matt Smith or Ryan Carnes
(I had Smith on the list long before he became the Doctor. But now? Settle for Carnes.)
PIERRE MICHEL, conductor
COUNT ANDRENYI, Hungarian diplomat
COUNTESS ANDRENYI, his wife
CYRUS HARDMAN, private investigator
MRS. HUBBARD, abrasive American traveler
This would have been a great source for publicity - to have the actress who played the Countess in the 1974 movie now playing the role of her mother.
SAMUEL RATCHETT, the murder victim
American actors have been in 'Poirot' mysteries before, most notably Elliott Gould. So for this role I thought of Paul Michael Glaser. I knew he could play the period after seeing him as Houdini (which of course is from a few decades earlier.)
So that's my dream cast. To me they are all name players, but I know many of them may be unknown to some in my audience. And maybe that's for the best.... After all, this production would have to be for TV, shown here in American on PBS. Gotta watch that budget! And Matt Smith alone would have probably cost as much as the production itself!
BCnU, my leetle gray selves!