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The film (and book) features the great Belgian detective Hercule Poirot. Albert Finney stars as Poirot, who is asked by Martin Balsam to investigate the murder of Richard Widmark aboard a train with an all-star cast of suspects, including Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman, Sean Connery, John Gielgud, Michael York and Anthony Perkins. The screenplay was penned by Paul Dehn and an uncredited Anthony Shaffer.
The film's tagline was: "The greatest cast of suspicious characters ever involved in murder."
It was the first of a number of "all-star" adaptations of Agatha Christie novels in the 1970s and early 1980s. Similar films included Death on the Nile, The Mirror Crack'd and Evil Under the Sun. It is the only occasion that Finney portrayed Poirot, with Peter Ustinov portraying the detective in subsequent films.
Richard Rodney Bennett's memorable Orient Express theme has been reworked into an orchestral suite and performed and recorded several times. It was performed on the original soundtrack album by the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden under Marcus Dods. The piano soloist was the composer himself.