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Thursday, 29 November 2012

Death on the Nile (1978) - Star of the month... Angela Lansbury

"Come on, Bowers, it's time to go. This place is beginning to resemble a mortuary." - Bette Davis (as Mrs. Van Shuyler in 'Death on the Nile')

'Death on the Nile' is a 1978 filming of the great Agatha Christie murder mystery,

We journey down the nile with Bette Davis, Mia Farrow, Angela Lansbury, David Niven, Maggie Smith, George Kennedy, jack Warden, Olivia Hussey, Lois Chiles, Jane Birkin, Simon MacCorkindale, Harry Andrews, Jon Finch and Sir Peter Ustinov as Hercule Poirot.

Jacqueline de Bellefort (played by Farrow) introduces her best friend Linnet Ridgeway (played by Chiles) to her boyfriend Simon Doyle (played by MacCorkindale). Shortly after the introduction Simon & Linnet marry and take a honeymoon to Egypt. In a jealous rage they are followed by Jacqueline.

Also in Egypt are Linnet's Uncle Andrew Pennington (played by Kennedy); the rich Mrs Van Shuyler (played by Davis) and her companion Miss Bowers (played by Smith); bohemian Mr. Ferguson (played by Finch); eccentric novelist Mrs. Otterbourne (played by Lansbury); her daughter Rosalie (played by Hussey); Dr. Bessner (played by Warden); Colonel Race (played by Niven); and his friend, the world famous Belgian detective Hercules Poirot (played by Ustinov.

The group take a cruise along the Nile on the boat the SS Karnak, where suddenly Linnet is found murdered.

The suspects

Virtually everyone on the boat is considered a suspect except for Colonel Race & of course, Poirot.

Was it Mrs Otterbourne, whom Linnet is taking to court? (or her daughter Rosalie?)
Was it Andrew Pennington, who is trying to embezzle Linnet's money?
Was it Jacqueline jealous of her marriage to Simon?
Was it Mrs Van Shylur, who had her eyes on Linnet's pearls?
Was it Dr. Bessner, whose reputation as a doctor Linnet is discrediting?
Was it Miss Bowers, whose father was ruined by Linnet's family?
Was it Jim Ferguson who said: "in a sane world, she'd be bumped off as a warning to the others"

As you can see, all of the above characters have a strong motivation to kill Linnet. Poirot says it best: "Mon dieu, how she makes enemies of them all"

Did you know...

  • Filming was stopped each day at noon for two hours as temperatures reached 130 degrees Fahrenheit - make up for the stars began at 4am, with shooting scheduled for 6am
  • Bette Davis, Angela Lansbury and Mia Farrow shared a dressing room during filming
  • The film was shot on board paddle steamer, Memnon - one of few paddle steamers remaining on the Nile
  • Albert Finney was initially asked to reprise the role of Poirot (after playing Poirot in 'Murder on the Orient Express' (1976)), however Finney the make up he wore too uncomfortable and declined the role
  • Michael York was attached to the project at one stage
  • Cybill Shepherd declined the role of Linnet Ridgeway
  • The film was originally going to be called 'Murder on the Nile'
  • The second Brabourne-Goodwin production of an Agatha Christie novel
  • The first of six films where Peter Ustinov played Hercule Poirot
  • Bette Davis allegedly brought her own make up, mirrors and lights to Egypt, in case they didn't have any there

Awards and nominations

  • Academy Award winner for Best Costume Design (Anthony Powell)
  • BAFTA Award winner for Best Costume Design (Anthony Powell)
  • BAFTA Award nomination for Best Actor (Sir Peter Ustinov)
  • BAFTA Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress (Angela Lansbury)
  • BAFTA Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress (Maggie Smith)
  • Edgar Allen Poe Award nomination for Best Motion Picture
  • Evening Standard British Film Award winner for Best Film
  • Evening Standard British Film Award winner for Best Actor (Sir Peter Ustinov)
  • Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Foreign Film (England)
  • National Board of Review Award winner for Best Supporting Actress (Angela Lansbury)

Closing remarks

'Death on the Nile' is my favourite filming of an Agatha Christie novel. It has a first class all star cast, beautiful location filming in Egypt and a compelling storyline - although it does take just over an hour for the first murder to take place.

The film presents spectacular footage of many Egyptian landmarks such as the Sphinx, the Great Pyramids, and the temples of Abu Simbel and Karnak.  Intricate Oscar winning costume design features Bette Davis wearing shoes made from the scales of 26 pythons and Lois Chiles in diamond-studded heels.

First class murder and death on the Nile!

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