‘Murder on the Orient Express’ trailer: Will remake match Oscar success of original 1947 film?

The trailer for the remake of “Murder on the Orient Express,” starring and directed by Kenneth Branagh, has been bombarding television audiences in recent weeks (watch above). The film seems to be getting a heavy push and the trailer makes the film look quite promising. Will this new version be able to replicate the Oscar success of the original 1974 classic?

Remakes have become a normal part of Hollywood movie-making and this property, based on the book by Agatha Christie, offers many juicy roles for actors. The original received an Oscar nomination for Albert Finney as Best Actor and won a Supporting Actress award for Ingrid Bergman (her third Oscar after wins for Best Actress in 1944 and 1956 for “Gaslight” and “Anastasia,” respectively.) The 1974 film was also nominated for Best Writing, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design and Best Score at the Oscars, and won BAFTAs for Bergman and John Gielgud.

The caliber of the cast of the original film (directed by Sidney Lumet) was such that in contained no less than 11 actors who had or would go on to either be an Oscar winner or nominee, including Finney, Bergman, Gielgud, Wendy Hiller, Lauren Bacall, Martin Balsam, Sean Connery, Anthony Perkins, Vanessa Redgrave, Rachel Roberts and Richard Widmark.

The current cast also has a lot of Oscar history, with two past winners (Penelope Cruz, Judi Dench) and four nominees (Branagh, Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Willem Dafoe) on-board. Cruz and Dench have both sparked early possible Best Supporting Actress speculation but the trailer seems to feature Pfeiffer (in the Lauren Bacall role) most prominently among the women so it will be interesting to see if this film adds to, distracts from or replaces her previous Oscar buzz for the film “mother!”

Dafoe may also be helped by a good reaction to this film in his campaign for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role in “The Florida Project.” (He is currently #1 in predictions on Gold Derby’s charts.) Speculation about Cruz (who is not seen very prominently in the trailers) largely rests on the fact that she is playing the role that did so well for Ingrid Bergman.

Interestingly, Bergman was famously less than pleased that she won the 1974 Best Supporting Actress award for this film and in her acceptance speech she even stated she felt co-nominee Valentina Cortese (“Day for Night”) should have won. Bergman was perhaps being too modest since her role of a slow-witted African aid worker was actually more complex than it seemed on the surface given the revelation of the film’s ending.

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