DEATH ON THE NILE || 1978, UK || Thriller || Directed by: John Guillermin / Written by – Anthony Shaffer [based on the novel Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie] / Produced by – John Brabourne, Richard B. Goodwin, Norton Knatchbull / Music by – Nino Rota / Cinematography – Jack Cardiff / Editing by – Malcolm Cooke / Production design – Peter Murton / Costume design – Anthony Powell / Starring – Peter Ustinov, Jane Birkin, Lois Chiles, Bette Davis, Mia Farrow, Jon Finch, Olivia Hussey, George Kennedy, Angela Lansbury, Simon MacCorkindale, David Niven, Maggie Smith, Jack Warden, I.S. Johar / Running time: 134 mins.
Death on the Nile was commissioned four years after the success of Murder of the Orient Express. The Agatha Christie novel on which it is based could not have been a more similar one to adapt. The only main difference in terms of set-up is that instead of a train, most of its whodunnit action takes place on a paddle steamer on the Nile River.
Sidney Lumet is replaced at the helm by John Guillermin, who despite being given much less freedom than its predecessor by the studios, still turns in a competent and entertaining film, though it is undoubtedly a little plainer and suffers from the occasional dull moment that make it seem slightly overstretched.
Peter Murton’s production design on Death on the Nile is lavish, of epic proportions, and shows off the high standards of this expensive and expansive production. The beautiful period costumes even found Academy Award success that year.
Peter Ustinov is an excellent choice to fill the shoes of Detective Hercule Poirot. Not an easy task considering the great turn by Albert Finney as the same character in Murder on the Orient Express, but one that Ustinov takes on beautifully, heading an endless cast of big and revered names featuring Mia Farrow, George Kennedy, Bette Davis, Maggie Smith, Angela Lansbury and David Niven. – 4/5