DEATH ON THE NILE (UK, 1978)
Directed by John Guillermin. Anthony Shaffer's adaptation of Agatha Chistie novel uses an all-star and all-character-actor cast: Peter Ustinov as Hercule Poirot, Bette Davis, Simon MacCorkindale, David Niven, Mia Farrow, Angela Lansbury, George Kennedy, Maggie Smith, Jack Warden, Lois Chiles, Jane Birkin, et al.
Lavishly mounted production has fine sets (many on location in Egypt), excellent costumes (Oscar to designer Anthony Powell), and nice, tongue-in-cheek histrionics by almost everyone. Up to the time heiress and fiance-stealer Chiles is murdered, the process of building up a gallery of distinctive characters , with each having a different reason to do the lady in, is colorful and amusing. After this killing (one of several),as Poirot investigates and keeps reconstructing possibilities in flashbacks and suspect by suspect,the interest flags considerably and could approach dullness were it not the grand style of most actors, especially Ustinov's.
Illogicalities are present-- though they matter little-- save for J.S.
Johar's "Egyptian" guide who speaks funny lines with a comic Indian accent a la Peter Sellers, and Warden's attempts at Teutonic enunciation. But so long as Chiles is alive there are high points, like Chiles' sexiness and a wonderful silent sequence where all the characters are shot (by the camera, that is) from above, moving around ancient columns. The film is less uneven than split into two distinct parts, the first very good, the second just so-so. If you know Agatha Christie's strategies and tricks, the movie makes it even easier than the novel to guess who did what to whom and how.