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I'm a sucker for an Agatha Christie who done it- especially those all-star movies that were produced during the seventies and eighties. While MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS is the best of the bunch, it still hasn’t been released on DVD (Paramount, I hope you can take a hint). Until MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS comes our way, I recommend checking out DEATH ON THE NILE ($25), which is certainly a lot of fun.

In DEATH ON THE NILE, we find Peter Ustinov taking on the mantle of the intrepid Belgian sleuth Hercule Poirot, who relies upon his "little gray cells" to solve every mystery he comes up against. While vacationing in Egypt, Poirot encounters the recently married Linnet Ridgeway (Lois Chiles) and her new husband Simon Doyle (Simon MacCorkindale), who are taking a honeymoon cruise down the Nile. Although their honeymoon should be pleasant and carefree, the couple find themselves unable to get away from Simon's jilted fiancée, Jacqueline De Bellefort (Mia Farrow), who has made it her mission to make her former lover and his new bride completely miserable.

Of course, DEATH ON THE NILE is a murder mystery, so it should come as no surprise when Linnet is found shot to death in her bed. If one has been following thus far, they would expect Jacqueline to be the killer- however, she has an airtight alibi that proves otherwise. This leaves Poirot in a position of trying to divine the murderer from a boatload of suspects- all of which have very good motives for killing Linnet. The first rate cast of DEATH ON THE NILE also features Bette Davis, David Niven, Maggie Smith, Angela Lansbury, Jack Warden, George Kennedy, Olivia Hussey, Jane Birkin and Jon Finch.

Anchor Bay Entertainment has made DEATH ON THE NILE available on DVD in a 1.85:1 wide screen presentation that has been enhanced for 16:9 playback. DEATH ON THE NILE certainly has never looked better at home than it does on this DVD. Jack Cardiff's cinematography is usually quite nice, although portions of the film have something of a filtered look, which would seem to benefit the older members of the cast. Location photography has a starker appearance, which can almost make one feel the heat of the Egyptian sun, as they marvel at the remnants of an ancient society. The transfer is usually quite crisp, although the filtered photography does have a softer appearance. Colors maintain a natural level of saturation and the flesh tones appear quite respectable. Blood looks a little fake, but that would appear to be a stylistic choice. Neither chroma noise nor bleeding ever effected color reproduction. Blacks are accurately rendered, with the darker scenes enjoying better than expected shadow detail. The film element used for the transfer shows very few blemishes, however there are a number of instances where grain is noticeable. Digital compression artifacts never rear their ugly heads on this dual layer DVD.

The Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack has some frequency limitations, but the sound is never thin or harsh. Dialogue is fully intelligible, with the actors voices sounding a bit more life like than one generally gets from a late seventies monaural recording. Nino Rota's musical score is pleasant sounding and worth amplifying, although a bit of background hiss crops during some of the quieter moments.

Animation and music serve to enhance the interactive menus. Through the menu system, one has access to the standards scene selection and set up features, as well as a few extras. The Making Of Death On The Nile runs 24 minutes and was produced at the same time as the feature. This look behind-the-scenes includes interviews with cast and crewmembers, as well as giving one a look at how the film's primary location was recreated in the studio. English/Spanish language television interviews with Peter Ustinov and Jane Birkin are also included- these too originated at the time of the film's theatrical release. A theatrical trailer and cast biographies close out the extras.

DEATH ON THE NILE is a film that Agatha Christie fans will want to check out for its mystery to star quotient. The DVD offers a very good rendering of the film that shouldn't disappoint.


Death on the Nile


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2001 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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