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FIRST PETER USTINOV POIROT MYSTERY OF 'DEATH ON THE NILE'

Title: DEATH ON THE NILE Year: 1978 Rating: ***1/2

Director John Guillermin's DEATH ON THE NILE with a screenplay by Anthony Shaffer adapted from Agatha Christie's most celebrated novel featuring the affable Belgian sleuth Hercule Poirot is far from a perfect "whodunit" since this group of suspects, all passengers on a fancy boat down the titular Egyptian river, have very little motive/motivation to kill who's the best thing about the picture, and not just the prettiest...

Thankfully Lois Chiles as super-rich heiress Linnet Ridgeway lasts over the one-hour mark; although she returns sporadically during the most uninteresting sequences where Poirot discusses with token constable-type David Niven what could have happened, providing flashbacks that aren't flashbacks being the first time we're seeing them...

Mia Farrow and Lois Chiles in DEATH ON THE NILE

The worst aspect derives from an otherwise talented actress, Mia Farrow, as the heiress's mousy friend who loses handsome fiance Simon MacCorkindale simply by introducing him to the woman he's far more suited for, and thereafter stalking the newly marrieds throughout genuine Egypt locations (including the Pyramids) in such a deliberately annoying manner that, well... let's not spoil the fact her awful performance may have been deliberate...

Thankfully Peter Ustinov's in almost every scene, as it's his movie more than even the somewhat forced mystery at hand, smoothly taken over the Poirot role from a miscast Albert Finney, who seemed dressed in a costume for the more popular MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS...

Simon MacCorkindale, Lois Chiles, Jack Warden, Jon Finch, Jane Birkin Death on the Nile

His endearingly vain and charming, helpful, sometimes whimsical interplay with the likes of Bette Davis, Maggie Smith, Jon Finch, Jack Warden, Angela Lansbury and George Kennedy means more than these character's have a reason to be there at all... other than to provide the usual All-Star-Cast trope that reined during the 1970's... 

But it's the rich, textured Egyptian locations rolling along outside with the lushly antique sets inside... and Guillerman's stylistic exploitation therein... that makes DEATH ON THE NILE a neat, breezy ride you can take more than once. 

George Kennedy and Lois Chiles in DEATH ON THE NILE
I.S. Johar (Gassim from Lawrence of Arabia) in DEATH ON THE NILE
Lois Chiles in DEATH ON THE NILE
Simon MacCorkindale and Lois Chiles in DEATH ON THE NILE
Mia Farrow and Peter Ustinov in DEATH ON THE NILE
Lois Chiles in DEATH ON THE NILE
Angela Lansbury and Jack Warden in DEATH ON THE NILE
Peter Ustinov, David Niven, Jack Warden and Lois Chiles in DEATH ON THE NILE
Peter Ustinov and David Niven in DEATH ON THE NILE
Simon MacCorkindale and Lois Chiles in DEATH ON THE NILE
Simon MacCorkindale and Lois Chiles in DEATH ON THE NILE
Spanish Import Blu Ray cover from DEATH ON THE NILE
Lois Chiles in DEATH ON THE NILE
Harry Andrews in DEATH ON THE NILE
Lois Chiles in DEATH ON THE NILE
Simon MacCorkindale and Lois Chiles in DEATH ON THE NILE

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