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Sir Kenneth Branagh’s Agatha Christie adaptation Murder on the Orient Express (out Nov. 10) is full of Hollywood heavy hitters, including Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Willem Dafoe, and Branagh himself as Christie’s famous sleuth, Hercule Poirot. But legendary director Sidney Lumet’s 1974 big screen take on the tale was no less star-studded, with Albert Finney portraying Poirot while the movie’s passengers were played by, among others, Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman, Jacqueline Bisset, Sean Connery, John Gielgud, Anthony Perkins, Richard Widmark, and Michael York, then fresh off from starring in Cabaret and The Three Musketeers.
“It really was remarkable,” recalls York, who was cast as Count Andrenyi in the film. “Richard Widmark said he only signed on to meet the stars. Everyone was a bit starstruck the first day. Then they got over it and got down to work.”
The film was mostly shot at London’s famed Elstree Studios. “The decision was made to have a sort of communal lunch,” says York. “People jostled to get invitations and royalty would drop by. It was all intensely glamorous. I had a great time.”
York often found himself being made-up next to Bergman, who would win her third Oscar for portraying Swedish missionary Greta Ohlsson. “I was being glamorized,” says the actor. “She was being intensely de-glamorized, to play the missionary. Everyone became friends.”
How does York feel about Sir Ken making a new version of Christie’s novel?
“Oh, I think every generation has to reinterpret it,” he says. “It’s a cracking good story that will hold up. I look forward to it!”
Watch a trailer for the 1974 Murder on the Orient Express above.