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Sir Kenneth Branagh’s all-star film version of Agatha Christie’s Murder On The Orient Express is most star-studded mystery movie yet

IT is the most dazzling whodunnit of all time – and its latest big-screen outing could be the most glamorous yet. Agatha Christie’s Murder On The Orient Express has been given the all-star treatment by Sir Kenneth Branagh, who leads an incredible cast as Belgian detective Hercule Poirot. Those joining him on board the luxury […]

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IT is the most dazzling whodunnit of all time – and its latest big-screen outing could be the most glamorous yet.

Agatha Christie’s Murder On The Orient Express has been given the all-star treatment by Sir Kenneth Branagh, who leads an incredible cast as Belgian detective Hercule Poirot.

©Twentieth Century Fox / Supplied by LMK
Some of the all-star cast include Dame Judi Dench, Michelle Pfeiffer, Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Daisy Ridley and Olivia Colman[/caption]

Those joining him on board the luxury train — known as the Spies’ Express for its popularity with secret agents — include Dame Judi Dench, Michelle Pfeiffer, Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Daisy Ridley and Olivia Colman.

Despite whodunnit films being known for their superstar line-ups — the 1974 version, for example, featured Albert Finney, Lauren Bacall, Sean Connery and Ingrid Bergman — this one is particularly impressive.

Branagh, who also directs, has given the normally thoughtful Poirot a more fearless edge.

The detective has been played by around 20 actors over the years, including Finney, David Suchet, Orson Welles and Peter Ustinov.

2017 Twentieth Century Fox FIlm Corp.
Sir Kenneth Branagh is director as well as playing the famous Belgian detective Hercule Poirot[/caption]

In the new film, out tomorrow, he is swashbuckling and dangerous, as comfortable capturing suspects as he is fending off others with his cane.

Even his trademark moustache is more extravagant than ever, and took the actor nine months to perfect.

Branagh, 56, said: “Agatha Christie describes it in the books as immense, so that’s what we decided to do.”

While some fans may baulk at the idea of tinkering with Torquay-born Christie’s work — only Shakespeare has outsold her globally as a fiction writer — it is not just Poirot who has been given a 21st century makeover in the £40million movie.

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As a fiction writer Agatha Christie’s work has only been outsold by Shakespeare[/caption]

Swedish missionary Greta Ohlsson and Italian-American car salesman Antonio Foscarelli are replaced by Hispanic characters, while Col John Arbuthnot is now Dr Arbuthnot, an African-American surgeon and ex-soldier. Private detective Cyrus Hardman has become professor Gerhard Hardman.

Branagh said: “There are some surprises, some different characters. It does ask quite a stark question about whether revenge, or an eye for an eye, is finally a good or satisfying way to avenge even the most terrible of crimes.”

To make the iconic train as realistic as possible, Branagh had an intricate replica built.

It never left the tracks of its Surrey studio but included storage, sleeper and dining cars, each weighing 25 tons and there was a 22-ton locomotive.

�Twentieth Century Fox / Supplied by LMK
As director, Branagh had an intricate replica of the infamous train built for the new movie[/caption]

�Twentieth Century Fox / Supplied by LMK
The train included storage, sleeper and dining cars with each weighing 25 tons[/caption]

With digital scenery playing outside, the train appeared so real that acting on it made some of the cast feel queasy.
Branagh recalled: “After a day people really did feel quite sick. There was one moment when there was a little break and the screens were still running.

“I went down to one end of the train just to look at the scenery passing like you would on a real train. It was funny to do that but I wasn’t the only one.”

The five-time Oscar nominee chose a few old friends to share the journey with him, including regular collaborators Dame Judi and Sir Derek Jacobi.

Dame Judi was asked to appear by Sir Kenneth when the two were co-starring in Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale in the West End

He first sounded out Judi about appearing in the film when they were co-starring in Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale in the West End.

They were so engrossed that Judi, 82, nearly went on stage half-naked. Branagh recalled: “I asked her about being in the film.

“We walked all the way from her dressing room to the wings then we realised she didn’t have the bottom half of her costume on. She was entirely naked from the waist down.”

Many of the passengers on the Orient Express are hiding a secret. On these pages we take a closer look at them, with help from some of the actors.

The Car Dealer

MANUEL GARCIA-RULFO as Biniamino Marquez

This character is not featured in Christie’s original novel

The buisnessman is an initial suspect not featured in the novel.

Branagh says he is in the film: “To keep people guessing until the very end.”

The Conductor

MARWAN KENZARI as Pierre Michel

The Conductor is the only character on the train that can access all the compartments

The train guard is the one person who has access to all the compartments.

Dutch actor Kenzari says: “He is a character with a great sort of sadness.”

The Servant

OLIVIA COLMAN as Hildegarde Schmidt

Olivia Colman plays servant to Judi Dench’s Princess Dragomiroff

Princess Dragomiroff’s timid maid – who Branagh says has “hidden strength”.

He adds: “Dare I say it, does she have something over the princess?”

The Assistant

JOSH GAD as Hector MacQueen

Josh Gad plays assistant to Depp’s character – Edward Ratchett

Ratchett’s aide drinks as heavily as he sweats and has a lot on his mind.

Gad says: “He is sort of a slave. He is a trembling, insecure secretary.”

The Professor

WILLEM DAFOE as Gerhard Hardman

In the original novel this character was a private eye

In the novel the character is a private eye, but here he is a racist Austrian academic.

Dafoe says: “He expresses opinions that are often offensive.”

The Governess

DAISY RIDLEY as Mary Debenham

Daisy Ridley plays The Governess who does not take well to the probing questions that Poirot asks

Mary is hiding a forbidden love and is not keen to answer Poirot’s probing questions.

Daisy says: “She is a free-spirited young woman.”

The Sidekick

TOM BATEMAN as Bouc

The Sidekick, played by Tom Bateman, is an old friend of Poirot’s

Poirot’s old friend, he is in charge of the Orient Express and is determined to track down the killer.

Bateman says: “Bouc is a bon vivant, a lover of life.”

The Tourist

MICHELLE PFEIFFER as Mrs Hubbard

Michelle Pfeiffer plays The Tourist who turns Depp’s character’s head and always speaks her mind

A classic femme fatale, she turns gangster Ratchett’s head and speaks her mind.

Pfeiffer says: “Hubbard is a husband hunter. Or so she says.”

The Butler

SIR DEREK JACOBI as Edward Masterman

Could it be The Butler played by Sir Derek Jacobi?

Ratchett’s manservant clearly feels little affection for his boss.

Jacobi says: “Masterman is a bit uptight but he’s also very ill, probably dying.”

The Doctor

LESLIE ODOM Jr as Dr Arbuthnot

Leslie Odom Jr plays the mysterious doctor on board the train

Mystery surrounds the former soldier.

Leslie says they worked hard on “who this black man might have been in order to achieve what he’d achieved”.

The Missionary

PENELOPE CRUZ as Pilar Estravados

Hollywood star Penelope Cruz plays The Missionary

Quick to admonish her fellow passengers for their sins, Pilar is a “very damaged person, and she’s finding a reason to live by helping others,” Penelope says.

The Gangster

JOHNNY DEPP as Edward Ratchett

It’s known that Depp’s character receives a death threat whilst on board the train and asks Hercule Poirot for his protection

The antiques dealer receives a death threat and tries to hire Poirot as protection.

Johnny says: “You can sense Ratchett’s paranoia and urgency.”

The Count & Countess

LUCY BOYNTON as Countess Andrenyi and SERGEI POLUNIN as Count Andrenyi

Could it have been a joint effort between The Count and The Countess?

Sergei says: “Andrenyi is very protective of his wife and he feels every step she takes.

She has a problem he must resolve.”

The Aristocrat

DAME JUDI DENCH as Princess Dragomiroff

Dench’s Princess Dragomiroff is said to have a very quick temper

Mean-spirited with a quick temper. Branagh says of her: “Never quick enough. Never soon enough. Never hot enough. Never nice enough.”

The Detective

KENNETH BRANAGH as Hercule Poirot

As well as playing the film’s hero, Sir Kenneth Branagh also directed the film

Obsessively ordered sleuth who, with “his moustache, his accent and his funny little ways, puts people off guard,” according to Branagh.

RAIL LIFE TALES OF MURDER

IT is the world’s most famous train – and the scene of as much mystery and bloodshed in real life as in Agatha Christie’s novel.

Regular passengers on the Orient Express included Lawrence of Arabia, Leo Tolstoy and Marlene Dietrich.

But the train also attracted spies. Its first journey – from Paris to Vienna in 1883 – ferried spy Henri Blowitz, a French journalist who reported to British intelligence.

Another was Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts, who would make maps of the Dalmatian coast and disguise them as drawings of butterflies.

Crime was also rife. In 1891, thieves took five passengers hostage, and in 1889 aristocrat Don Francisco tried to kill his wife, Maria, on their honeymoon. She escaped to the carriage of arms dealer Sir Basil Zaharoff and they fell in love.

Maria Farcasanu was not so lucky in 1935 – she was pushed through an open window as the train passed through Austria and died.

And in 1931, Hungarian terrorists caused the train to derail, killing 20.

Services stopped during both World Wars, although Germany signed the 1918 Armistice in one of the coaches, while Hitler forced the French to sign their own surrender in the same coach in 1940.

The Orient Express to Vienna and Strasbourg ran until 2009. Pensioned-off cars have been turned into racing pigeon transporters and even a brothel in Limoges, France.

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Tennis icon Billie Jean King on beating sexist rival Bobby Riggs in match behind Emma Stone’s new film Battle of the Sexes

IT WAS not so much a tennis match as the ultimate clash of girl power versus male pride. Former Wimbledon and world champion, and self-proclaimed male chauvinist pig, Bobby Riggs was taking on the women’s world No1, Billie Jean King. And the stakes could hardly have been higher. The 1973 match drew more than 90million […]

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IT WAS not so much a tennis match as the ultimate clash of girl power versus male pride.

Former Wimbledon and world champion, and self-proclaimed male chauvinist pig, Bobby Riggs was taking on the women’s world No1, Billie Jean King.

The 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs was called The Battle of the Sexes

And the stakes could hardly have been higher.

The 1973 match drew more than 90million viewers worldwide, including 50million in the US, and Bobby, then 55, had publicised it by posing naked but for a racquet, and as Little Bo Peep to wind up feminist lesbian equal rights campaigner Billie Jean, 29.

He had challenged her to the match because she had dared to insist that female players deserved the same prize money as men.

Bobby, meanwhile, warned that men would not be able to go for “poker games” if women’s lib continued and crowed that “the best way to handle women is to keep them pregnant and barefoot”.

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Prior to the match, Bobby dressed up as Little Bo Peep to annoy his opponent[/caption]

He refused to train for the game, bet the equivalent of £11,000 on himself to win and arrived at the venue, the Houston Astrodome, with a bevy of short-skirted models.

It was even billed as the Battle of the Sexes — which provides the title for a film about the match, out tomorrow, starring Emma Stone as Billie Jean and Steve Carell as Bobby.

Talking exclusively to The Sun yesterday — her 74th birthday — Billie Jean told how she had been preparing for the encounter for most of her life.

The six-times Wimbledon winner said: “Since I was 12 I wanted to help equality in any way I could.

“I wanted to make that promise to myself. I knew tennis would be an amazing platform.

“I knew as a 12-year-old girl it would be a difficult road, but I was certainly going to give it a try.

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Emma Stone and Steve Carell star in the match about the two tennis legends[/caption]

“I knew I had to be No1 to do that. I enjoyed that pressure. I realised I had to practise so hard.”

At first she had rejected Bobby’s £75,000 prize money offer. But when Australian player Margaret Court lost to him in a similar match, she changed her mind.

Billie Jean knew that the fledgling professional women’s tennis tour she was backing would struggle if she did not prove the ageing Bobby wrong.

She recalled: “I was hoping it would help equality, the women’s tour and pro tennis. This was the most incredible opportunity and I couldn’t blow it. I had to win.”

Bobby had won Wimbledon in 1939 as a 21-year-old amateur and won the US Open the same year and again in 1941.

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The upcoming film shares the same title as the match[/caption]

Although he treated the match with Billie Jean as a joke, she said: “I respected him, because I knew his history. He was one of my heroes.

“So I went with him, I enjoyed him. I loved entertainment.”

Despite his arrogance, Bobby relied on vitamin pills rather than proper training, and when the big day came, Billie Jean showed him no mercy.

She exploited his poor fitness by hitting balls as far from his reach as possible, winning in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3. Afterwards humiliated Bobby hid in his dressing room for four hours until she went to console him.

Getty - Contributor
Billie Jean King won the women’s singles final at Wimbledon in 1968[/caption]

She said: “He underestimated me. I was so relieved I couldn’t tell you — such a burden off my shoulders.

“Afterwards we talked about how much we loved each other and it was closure for him.”

Bobby, who was also a notorious gambler and sports hustler, died in 1995 aged 77. Today, 44 years after their match, Billie Jean is well aware that the battle of the sexes goes on. Men and women may have equal prize money in tennis tournaments but in Hollywood and other fields there is still major wage disparity.

So did she approach the film’s producers to ensure Emma Stone was not paid less than Steve Carell?
She said: “We did have a talk about that. I didn’t have the power, but Emma did ask about that and Steve said, ‘OK, that’s fair. Let’s go’.

“I admire Emma for asking for what she needed, because women are taught not to do that.”

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Emma Stone made sure she was paid the same as her male co-stars in the film[/caption]

The big topic of the moment is women refusing to put up with male sex pests — something Billie Jean had endured in the past.

She said: “I had challenges from sexual harassment from guys hitting on me in an inappropriate way.

“It was someone outside the tennis business for me. Other women told me a really high-ranking official took one of the women players behind the bushes and started trying to kiss her and telling her she wouldn’t get to play in the tournament.”

But the film is not just about sex equality. It also carries a message of sexual liberation.

Before she beat Bobby on the tennis court, Billie Jean’s personal life was in turmoil as she wrestled with the realisation she was a lesbian.

She had married sports promoter Larry King in 1965 but in 1971 she began a relationship with her personal assistant, Marilyn Barnett — played by British actress Andrea Riseborough in the film.

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Emma Stone at and Andrea Riseborough show the relationship between Billie and Marilyn Barnett[/caption]

But she said: “By the time the Riggs match came along I was not happy with Marilyn. I didn’t know who I was and where I was.

“I had parents who were homophobic. The world was homophobic. Even the players didn’t talk about it on the tour, not until the late Seventies. People wouldn’t even talk about a gay person, it was so shame-based.”

The relationship ended bitterly and in 1981 Marilyn sued for a share of Billie Jean’s wealth, claiming in court she had been her live-in lover.

Billie Jean won the case, but shelled out £400,000 in court fees and lost £1.5million in commercial deals, as few firms would back a lesbian.

She said: “It was a tough time in my life, that’s for sure. I was outed through the court case and I think people should be able to come out on their own terms.

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Billie won the tennis match in straight sets[/caption]

“I lost endorsements. When I was 37 I was going to retire and the trial came up and it was so costly I had to go back to playing tennis.”

Remarkably, Billie Jean’s husband Larry stayed with her during this rocky period and they only divorced in 1987, after she fell in love with her tennis doubles partner Ilana Kloss.

She recalled: “He didn’t want to get divorced, so that was another challenge. He didn’t understand what was going on with Marilyn that much.

“I was so ashamed I couldn’t talk about it to anybody. I was so in the closet. I did tell him eventually, as I never wanted to betray him.”

Billie Jean stayed on good terms with Larry and is godmother to his son from his subsequent marriage.

Getty - Contributor
Billie Jean spoke exclusively to The Sun on her 74th birthday[/caption]

These days she is out and proud and said: “It’s changed so much, it’s unbelievable. I am so happy.”

But one thing that hasn’t changed is the debate about whether a woman could beat a man on the sports field.

However, it is a discussion that needs to end, according to Billie Jean — and not because she beat Bobby.

In fact, the 39-time Grand Slam winner believes the top female player will never be able to compete with the leading male.

But she thinks women do deserve equal pay because they sell just as many tickets and provide the same entertainment as the men.

She said: “We never said we were as good as the guys. But we are just as entertaining. We are exciting.
“Guys are better than us because they have testosterone and a bigger heart and can run faster and longer.

“The upper body has a huge difference — that’s not going to change. The top women are not going to take the top guys. Period. Let’s move on.”

  • Battle of the Sexes (12A) is in cinemas tomorrow.

MATCH OF THE PAY

  • Tennis – Wimbledon
    Men £1.9million
    Women £1.9million
  • Golf – U.S. Open
    Men £1.6million
    Women £680,000
  • Darts – World Championships
    Men £100,000
    Women £12,000
  • Snooker – World Championships
    Men £375,000
    Women £5,000
  • Horse racing – The Derby
    Men £60,450
    Women £60,450
  • Running – London Marathon
    Men £42,600
    Women £42,600

 

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Wonder Woman fans furious after Amazons wear ‘tiny leather bikinis’ in new Justice League movie

WONDER Woman fans have been left fuming after catching a first look at what the Amazons are wearing in the new Justice League movie. Unlike the female warriors in the Wonder Woman flick, which hit the big screen earlier this year, the actresses in the latest superhero blockbuster are sporting much skimpier outfits. In case […]

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WONDER Woman fans have been left fuming after catching a first look at what the Amazons are wearing in the new Justice League movie.

Unlike the female warriors in the Wonder Woman flick, which hit the big screen earlier this year, the actresses in the latest superhero blockbuster are sporting much skimpier outfits.

Their armoured knee-high boots have been ditched and their breastplates have been swapped for leather bralet-style tops, which show off their bare midriffs.

And fans are not happy with their makeover.

Scores have taken to Twitter to share their thoughts, with many comparing a picture of the two Amazonian tribes.

One raged: “Can someone please explain why the Amazons are wearing leather bikinis (right pic) in Justice league? I want the bad ass soldiers of Wonder Woman (left pic)!#JusticeLeague.”

Another  said: “The amazon costumes for justice league look uhhhhhhh Very Bad.”

One comic critic and writer has even compared a picture of the actress Brooke Ence in character as Amazon warrior Penthesilea in both Wonder Woman and Justice League.

She said: “First designed by Lindy Hemming, directed by Patty Jenkins. Second designed by Michael Wilkinson, directed by Zack Snyder.

“People are pretending there’s no difference.”

One even fumed: "I swear every time DC takes one step forward they take two steps back."

Film fans have been waiting a long time for Justice League to hit the big screen, as plans for the movie were originally announced in 2014.

The DC Universe blockbuster is due to hit cinemas in the UK on November 17 and stars a big name cast, including Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Jason Momoa, Ezra Miller and Ray Fisher.

Earlier this month, they were all pictured at an official Justice League photocall  in London.


Got a story? email digishowbiz@the-sun.co.uk or call us direct on 02077824220


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This incredible deleted scene will change the way you watch Titanic forever

THIS is the deleted scene from Titanic which will have even the steeliest viewers reaching for the tissues. The legendary film, which scooped 11 Oscars after its 1997 release, would have been even more emotional if this clip had made it into the final cut. It shows the survivors’ rescue in full, rather than the […]

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THIS is the deleted scene from Titanic which will have even the steeliest viewers reaching for the tissues.

The legendary film, which scooped 11 Oscars after its 1997 release, would have been even more emotional if this clip had made it into the final cut.

The deleted scene, set aboard the rescue ship, shows cowardly Ismay’s guilt in full
YouTube

It shows the survivors’ rescue in full, rather than the shortened version of the sequence shown in the classic film.

Set aboard rescue boat The Carpathia, the emotional scene really heaps on the sorrow, and will change the way you view one of the film’s most despised characters.

Joseph Bruce Ismay, one of the top officials in the company which owned the Titanic, was portrayed as a coward for abandoning his doomed vessel.

We don’t even see any real remorse after hundreds of innocents are sent to the icy depths on his sinking ship.

The emotive scene heaps on the grief and remorse, and is an extended version of the rescue in the final film
YouTube
You can see huddles of despondent survivors glaring at the official in this cut clip
YouTube

But this deleted scene paints his character in a slightly different light.

The camera zooms to his face as he surveys the shivering survivors – and it is etched with a clear pang of guilt.

Meanwhile, we also see more of Rose, frozen in horror, in the full version of the rescue.

She can be seen boarding the ship while her mother frantically searches for her, and we also clock a brief flash of Cal’s adopted daughter – whose fate is left uncertain in the final cut.

Frantic survivors are shown searching for loved ones in the extra sequence
YouTube
Rose is also shown in such a state that she can barely hold a cup of tea
YouTube

Viewers of the deleted scene, which has cropped up on YouTube, are understandably disappointed that it was axed.

One said: “Such a shame this was cut… The Carpathia really deserved more screen time.”

And another added: “They should have added this scene. Poor Ismay with those poor survivors looking at him with disgust.”

Another fan chipped in to ask: “Why was this cut? The scenes of Rose numb with grief is a perfect closure to Jack dying.”

Ismay’s guilt is a lingering theme in the deleted sequence, which fans wish had been kept in
YouTube

This isn’t the only important film segment which was left on the cutting room floor.

Previously, we revealed how a deleted Devil Wears Prada scene changes the film completely.

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