A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Murder on the Orient Express is an adaptation of the classic Agatha Christie novel featuring Hercule Poirot. The case involves a murder by stabbing; some bloody wounds, bloody bedsheets, and a trickle of blood from the mouth are briefly shown. A reenactment shows the crime with the actual stabbing offscreen. An important backstory involves the kidnapping and murder of a young child, and several other tragic deaths as a direct result of that incident. Reenactments of the past crime are dark, with intense music and some startling photos simulating newspaper coverage. Lots of characters smoke cigarettes, pipes, and cigars, so it's a good chance to talk to kids about how attitudes have changed about smoking, and about the role movies have played glamorizing it. Adults drink alcohol. People mention taking sedatives to help them sleep. A drink being poisoned is shown. It's a good opportunity to talk to kids about the racism behind Greta's attitude toward "the little brown babies."
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Famous detective Hercule Poirot (Albert Finney) gets a last-minute ticket to MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS when he's suddenly called back to London from Istanbul. When the train has to stop and wait for snow to be cleared from the tracks, the body of the unlikable Ratchett is discovered. Poirot has no fewer than a dozen suspects to choose from (Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman, Sean Connery, Anthony Perkins). The head of the railroad wants the case solved before the train gets to the next station, so Poirot will have to work quickly to solve the case. Of course, Poirot's more than up to the task. But is justice served?
Is it any good?
Acclaimed director Sidney Lumet's version of this Agatha Christie classic is as much a loving tribute to old Hollywood glamour as it is a riveting adaptation of one of the all-time great mysteries. Murder on the Orient Express brings together fantastic acting from what in 1974 was the crème de la crème of both Hollywood and the London stage, gorgeous costumes, a beautiful setting, and one of the best surprise solutions in the genre.
Younger kids may be frightened by the backstory, with its reenactments of a child's kidnapping. Otherwise the violence is mild; some blood is briefly shown, and the murder on the train is reenacted without showing any actual blood or gore. But tweens and up old enough to enjoy sinking their teeth into a good murder mystery, and especially those who enjoy a highly glamorized look into the past, will have fun laughing at Poirot's mustache as they marvel at his brilliant solution to the crime.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about justice in Murder on the Orient Express. Do you think justice was served? Why or why not?
Why are murder mysteries so popular? What makes a good one? Which are your favorites, and why?
Have you read the book, or any other Agatha Christie mysteries? If not, would you like to now? If you did, how does the movie compare? Which did you like better?
- In theaters: November 21, 1974
- On DVD or streaming: September 7, 2004
- Cast: Albert Finney, Lauren Bacall, Sean Connery
- Director: Sidney Lumet
- Studio: Paramount Pictures
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Adventures, Book Characters, History, Trains
- Run time: 128 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- Awards/Honors: Academy Award
- Last updated: May 23, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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