Home Movies by Decade Movies - 1970s Death On The Nile (1978)

Death On The Nile (1978)

Peter Ustinov takes over from Albert Finney as pernickety Belgian sleuth Hercule Poirot in this solid, star-studded dramatisation of Agatha Christie’s paddle-steamer mystery, as he investigates the murder during a Nile cruise of beautiful but spoilt American heiress Linnet Ridgeway (Lois Chiles).

The guests on the steamer Karnak include Poirot’s distinguished friend Colonel Race (David Niven), an imperious dowager (Bette Davis) and her mannish nurse (Maggie Smith); a dipsomaniacal romance novelist and her soft-spoken daughter (Angela Lansbury and Olivia Hussey); a pompous Austrian physician (Jack Warden); a peevish Socialist (Jon Finch); a calculating American lawyer (George Kennedy); a rancorous French maid (Jane Birkin); and a too-rich, too-beautiful, too-happy couple on their honeymoon, (Chiles and Simon MacCorkindale). Oh, and there’s also a vengeful scorned woman (Mia Farrow), MacCorkindale’s former fiance.


The plot is suitably tricky (everyone on board has a motive), the Egyptian locations dazzling and all the actors seem to be having a terrific time – especially Angela Lansbury as the drunken writer and Maggie Smith as the acid-tongued nurse.

It’s only in comparison with Murder on the Orient Express (1974) that the film inevitably suffers.

The solution isn’t quite as jaw-dropping, and some of the whys and wherefores overtax credibility but a humorous Ustinov keeps the whole thing afloat with his ability to add a twinkle to even the most earnest lines of dialogue.

Hercule Poirot
Peter Ustinov
Louise Bourget
Jane Birkin
Linnet Ridgeway
Lois Chiles
Mrs Van Schuyler
Bette Davis
Jacqueline de Bellefort
Mia Farrow
Mr Ferguson
Jon Finch
Rosalie Otterbourne
Olivia Hussey
Andrew Pennington
George Kennedy
Mrs Salome Otterbourne
Angela Lansbury
Simon Doyle
Simon MacCorkindale
Colonel Race
David Niven
Miss Bowers
Maggie Smith
Dr Bessner
Jack Warden
Harry Andrews
Sam Wanamaker
Manager of the Karnak
I S Johar

John Guillermin