By Arthur Flynn
For over half a century the novels of Agatha Christie have offered film companies, stage producers and television stations great potential to turn her books and plays into dramas, mostly with ‘who-done-it’ endings.
Some of her books have been filmed several times. Amongst the most popular have been Witness for the Prosecution, Ten Little Indians, Murder on the Orient Express, The Mirror Cracked and Then there were None and Murder at the Gallop.
In 1977 Death on the Nile, a British mystery film based on Christie’s 1937 play of the same name went into production. The screenplay was adapted by the top writer Anthony Shaffer with a budget of $7 million.
Producer John Brabourne and director John Guillermin assembled an impressive list of leading British and American stars.
They included Jane Birkin as Louise Bourget, Lois Chiles as Linnet Doyle, Bette Davis as Marie Van Schuyler, Mia Farrow as Jacqueline De Bellefort, Jon Finch as James Ferguson, Maggie Smith as Miss Bowers and David Niven as Colonel Johnny Race.
Albert Finney was originally asked to reprise his role of Hercule Poirot from Murder on the Orient Express but declined. He did not want to be type-cast as the inspector. When approached Peter Ustinov readily stepped into the role as the garrulous and charming detective who curls his moustache. It was obvious that he took great pleasure in the role.