Death on the Nile

You probably all know that I’m a bit of a grouch where movies based on books are concerned.  And for some reason especially where Agatha Christie is concerned (I’m not really sure why).  The Albert Finney Murder on the Orient Express is good, very close to the book.  The Kenneth Branagh version – meh. 

But my favorite AG movies are the Peter Ustinov Death on the Nile as well as the David Suchet version from the PBS Poirot series.  The PU leaves out the secondary plot but the DS messes with the characters’ motives.  But I love them both and we won’t discuss how many times I’ve seen them (great background for while I’m in my studio).

I’ve known for many months that Kenneth Branagh’s Death on the Nile was looming and the trailers that I found online were a bit alarming but nonetheless YA and I ventured out last weekend to see it.  Maybe I would be pleasantly surprised; after all it’s a fabulous story, how could you mess it up? 

As YA and I drove to the theatre I promised her that I would not talk during the movie as I know she hates that.  Then she said “and if you don’t like it, no big sighs”.  Guess she’s been to that rodeo before!  We bought our snacks and settled down in our seats.

I knew in the first 5 seconds that we were in trouble.  It won’t be a spoiler alert to say that Agatha Christie NEVER gave Hercule Poirot a backstory.  And a jazz nightclub in Paris?  Nope.  And I can’t even talk about how far off script the various characters were.  I suppose there is something to be said about bringing a fresh coat of paint to something, but Branagh completely disassembled the furniture before adding paint.  And I’m pretty sure that no tourist boat in Egypt in the 30s was staffed with scores of young, white women in shorts. 

I will say that the visuals were stunning.  And I will give the movie makers their due on Abu Simbel.  They show the temple right at the water’s edge, which is the original location.  (The temple was moved to higher ground in the mid-60s.)  The PU version didn’t get this right and the DS version didn’t even have an Abu Simbel scene. 

It was SO hard not to sigh and then it turns out that I could have.  As we left the theatre, YA said “who was the murderer”; she had fallen asleep.  When we figured out how far back she had fallen asleep, I could have sighed for at least 20 minutes!

Any remakes that make you shudder or that you like better than the original?

63 thoughts on “Death on the Nile”

  1. Nearly all remakes make me shudder, especially the historical ones–they inevitably include anachronisms that simply would not have happened, and they never seem to get the costuming right (no one was properly dressed without a hat!). They also like to change characters’ motives randomly, which I really hate. However, I have enjoyed the remake of “All Creatures Great and Small.” After a rocky start of not being able to tell some of the male characters apart, the new series has really grown on me. Still don’t wear hats enough to be correct, but I’ll let it pass this once.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. It’s true there are annoying anachronisms in most historical dramas, but I would contend that, in many cases, the costume accuracy is better than it was in earlier films, which was often ridiculous. Even more than costume inaccuracy, though, is hairstyling, which seems to be invariably influenced by the hairstyles contemporaneous with the filming. I’m thinking mostly about nineteenth century depictions. To modern eyes, the hairstyles would not be flattering.

      Liked by 6 people

      1. The hairstyle thing is so true. I love to watch an occasional Bonanza episode, not for the show, but to watch those 60’s hairstyles, and even worse, the thick brown makeup on white actors to make them “be Indian.” One of those actors was Marlo Thomas dyed deep brown. Uffda.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. I had on Joan Fontaine’s Jane Eyre last night and I swear I can’t figure out how she got her hair to do that…

          Liked by 1 person

        2. “Ik Marvel” was a popular author and this would have been an image he would have handed out to his fans. Chris Norbury take note…

          Liked by 3 people

  2. I thought the David Suchet version of Orient Express was excellent. Much, much darker than the Finney film, probably intentionally so, in order to distance itself. Generally speaking, I’m not a fan of modern remakes. I think that big Hollywood money demands mediocrity. They have so much riding on movies that they’re terrified of a) the possibility of offending anyone in any way, and b) trusting a filmmaker’s artistic statement. We need focus groups, test markets, surveys, demographics, and diagnostics. We want something ‘fresh’ but not ‘new,’ and certainly not something unproven, that needs to gross X% above our return on investment. IMHO, if you look back at what are considered the best films, they had something to say. Nowadays, that seems to be too risky to be allowed.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Rise and Shine Baboons,

    Generally most Sci-Fi stuff and even worse, Sci Fantasy, makes me cringe. I just cannot go there with the plot because it all defies credibility. Even during the early Star Trek episodes (HERESY ALERT, HERESY ALERT) it just looked like a TV set to me with really bad special effects. And then there was “Lost In Space” and that tin foil robot. That was the show that ruined all Sci Fi for me.

    And then there is anything with the Nordic character Loki in it. Then I get rude and judgmental.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. The remake of Lost in Space has amazing special effects. There are other points to be quibbled with but it’s a long way from tinfoil robots.

      Wasn’t the robot in the original salvaged from “Forbidden Planet”?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I don’t know where it came from. I just remember watching that silly robot rolling over the gravel on the stage floor, and thinking “this is so dumb.” And I was not very old.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. I enjoyed the recent PBS series Around the World in 80 Days, although it was so far from the original book as to be almost a completely different story. Originally, the character “Fix” was a detective following Phileas Fogg around the world and trying to arrest him for a robbery he didn’t commit. In the PBS version the character “Fix” is a female reporter who accompanies Fogg on his adventure. I did enjoy the series, especially the episode where the three adventurers are stuck on a deserted island, however that episode didn’t even appear in the original story. There was no Western saloon shoot-out in the book either. I liked the choice of actors for all three main characters, especially Ibrahim Koda as Passepartout. David Tennant is great as Phileas Fogg.

    I agree with Renee on the new country music. It’s really just pop music or rock music with a twang and other distortions. Not sorry.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. We enjoyed the remake of “80 Days”, realizing that liberties had been taken and that Miss Fix was essentially Nellie Bly appended into the story. But then we started watching the original David Niven version and just couldn’t get through it.

      Liked by 3 people

  5. The remake of West Side Story was as good as, if not better than the original. It was tricky for me because WSS is my all-time favorite musical, and I expected to be rather harsh on the upstart, especially with Spielberg directing. (I was waiting for a bunch of explosions or chase seens or Indiana Jones to wander through a scene.)

    The singing is much better in the remake, dancing just as good, acting is better across the board, and the story is deeper, making it more relevant today without being too obvious. And casting Rita Moreno as Doc’s widow was a great choice. She had a pretty meaty role and showed why she’s one of the few EGOT winners and a legend.

    But in general, remakes don’t seem to be better probably because we tend to be biased toward our “old favorites” and set the bar high for someone who thinks he/she can do better.

    Chris in Owatonna

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I’ll admit up front that I’m not a sophisticated film buff or movie critic. That said, I know what I like and what I don’t. I can’t think of a film that I’ve liked or disliked where my appreciation or rejection was based on anachronisms in the film. In most cases, I’m probably not even aware of them. I’m no expert on current fashions and hairstyles, let alone those of past decades and centuries, so chances are I wouldn’t catch a “mistake” in that regard.

    I’m hesitant to revisit films that I loved when I first saw them, especially if I was very young when I did. I’m not talking about remakes, but watching the original again. Many of them simply don’t hold up to my fond recollections. What appealed to my youthful self is often lost on the old woman I’ve become. I loved the original West Side Story when I first saw it as a nineteen year old. I suspect that the intervening sixty years might well have changed my perspective, at least somewhat. Of course, the story itself is timeless, and I’d like to see Spielberg’s take on it.

    I loved the Sherlock Holmes films starring Basil Rathbone. To me he personified Sherlock Holmes. I’m aware that numerous other actors have given the role of Sherlock a go, and some of them have been very good, but to my mind, there’s only one Sherlock. Kinda like Judy Garland’s “Over the Rainbow,” she owned that song till Eva Cassidy came along and breathed new life into it. I can now appreciate the genius of both.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I really liked most of the Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes. Some of them were a little too much especially the one where it was Sherlock Holmes against the evil Nazi Germans. That was a little problematic. But it was so nice to see Basil Rathbone in that iconic roll because so much of his repertoire is as the bad guy. I just watched Captain blood for the very first time a couple of weeks ago and was surprised to find Basil Rathbone once again the bad guy but with an outrageous French accent this time.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. And I’m not throwing any stones in the arena of “I just like what I like”. Says the woman who is right now I’m watching Sahara again, a movie I’ve seen a jillion times and has enough plot holes that it could be Swiss cheese.

      Liked by 3 people

  7. I’ve seen so few mainstream films the past few decades or so, I’ve missed most of the remakes that others are aware of. I’d love to see the new West Side Story, though, and missed it when it was here.

    PJ reminds me about Sherlock, and I’ll have to say I thoroughly enjoyed Robert Downey, Jr’s take on him, but that’s likely because I thoroughly enjoy watching Robert Downey, Jr.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. The 2006 film, 300, a remake of 1962 The 300 Spartans was weird. A comic book on film. Only watched it once. I will watch the Richard Egan film whenever it shows up on my cable channels.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve been trying to find a free version of Doc Savage with Ron Ely. I expect it will be exactly as you say, Wes— a comic book on film.


    1. I got it in 4… I’m getting better at remembering that a letter can get used twice. But bombed on Quordle. (I’ve lost 3 out of the last 4 days.) So many words that have the same first 3 letters. Sigh.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The hardest word for me, so far, has been “eying.” I had four of the five letters, with only the “n” in the right place, but it took forever to get it.


    2. I got today’s Wordle in three.
      Despite my protestations, I’ve also been doing Quordle the last three days. I had today’s in seven guesses, but I can’t figure out how you convey your results with the blank color blocks.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Not sure I understand the question, Bill. This is my result for today:
        Daily Quordle #39
        ⬜⬜⬜⬜⬜ ⬜⬜⬜⬜⬜
        ⬜⬜⬜⬜⬜ ⬜⬜🟨⬜⬜
        ⬜⬜⬜🟩⬜ ⬜⬜🟨⬜⬜
        ⬜⬜🟨🟩⬜ ⬜⬜🟨⬜⬜
        ⬜⬜⬜⬜⬜ ⬜⬜⬜🟨🟨
        🟨⬜⬜⬜⬜ 🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩
        🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 ⬛⬛⬛⬛⬛

        ⬜⬜⬜⬜⬜ 🟩⬜⬜⬜⬜
        ⬜⬜🟩🟨⬜ 🟩⬜⬜⬜⬜
        🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 ⬜⬜⬜⬜⬜
        ⬛⬛⬛⬛⬛ 🟨⬜⬜⬜⬜
        ⬛⬛⬛⬛⬛ 🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩

        Are you referring to the three black lines in the above graphic?


        1. All I need or want are the four boxes at the top that give you the score for each puzzle. Not sure I’m tracking what your puzzlement is?


        2. I haven’t figured out how to display the complete graphic of the puzzle with the letters blanked out. I experimented with saving the result and then sending the link to myself in an email to see if that would work and it didn’t seem to…


        3. Weird (that’s a five letter word), but it may well be an iPad thing. When I click on your links I get an error (error 404, for what it’s worth).


  9. I haven’t seen a whole lot of remakes, but I did recently watch the latest Little Women remake. I can’t offer a very thorough review because I fell asleep. I was a little confused because there is a lot of jumping back and forth in time. It helps to have read the book, because then you know when significant events happen in their proper order. Still, when you’re watching the movie and Beth is dead, then she’s alive, then she’s sick, then she’s dead, then she’s alive, it hurts the brain.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. That movie made me want to sigh out loud and roll my eyes. I have not read the books but I vaguely knew the plot line and I know that there’s no car chases or gun fights or anything like that but, oh my God, can they do some thing! Talk about sitting around doing nothing! I couldn’t even tell you it was good acting because it drove me nuts.

      Liked by 2 people

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