Murder on the Orient Express (1974/2017)
Chosen by me because I like to go to the cinema a lot and because when I got home I had the boring idea of comparing the two films so I sat and watched the '74 version straight afterwards. There will be spoilers. You know for one of the most famous murder mysteries ever.
Both are star studded affairs which stick reasonably closely to the source material.
The '74 Poirot is a petty, annoying foreigner ('probably a frog' Connery's doctor excalims in a bit that took me a second to remember that as a racial slur) played with a touch of silliness by Albert Finney. He loses some of his power in this Christie story as his position as outsider is lessened when surrounded by Hungarians, Americans, Italians on a train stuck in Yugoslavia. But he still gets to rub everyone up the wrong way.
The '17 version has a sillier moustache but is played with a little less picque by director Kenneth Branagh. It also seems to suggest his fussiness may be more indicative of something like Asperger's and decides to give a completely unnecessary dark past (it might have played a bit better with a touch more subtlety, though it doesnt ever explain what happened to his 'dear Katherine' him whispering to a photo every other act laboured a point it never quite got around to making). It tries to give him an a character arc (the '74 is just on a train and investigates a crime, not especially revealing) and a personal stake in the investigation, and despite it's hackneyed nature sort of worked.
'74's is more jovial, and even nice to his secretary at one point. But Richard Widmark is fairly dull.
'17's is a sneery arsehole through and through. Oh and fuck Johnny Depp.
Michelle Pfeiffer and Penelope Cruz have a weight of good material behind them but still they are not Lauren Bacall and Ingrid Bergman as unfair as that might be (and Cruz in particular is ill served in her film). Willem Defoe gets to make more of his characters reveal than his '74 counterpart (who is barely even in it before his twist - so that lands with a shrug), Josh Gad goes out of his way to differentiate his McQueen from Anthony Perkins earlier take and gone are the pointed tropes towards the characters homosexuality. An interracial relationship angle allows for a person of colour to be in the film and gives Daisy Ridley and leslie Odom Jnr a slightly more interesting excuse for the lies than Connery and a wonderful Vanessa Redgrave have. Ridley's take on the character is allowed to be much smarter than her giggly earlier version too and though it leads to a pointless bit of tension it allows for a nice scene where Poirot asks for her help in solving the mystery, that may be a ruse to see through her lies but also may just be him seeing a kindred mind. The modern Count is given a dancer background not afforded to Michael York as a nod to why Sergei Polunin is well regarded outside of movies but (despite fitting in a couple of kick-boxing moves) he doesnt get to show off here and is not very good (maybe a shoehorned in ballet performance should have been included) and mostly lost against more interesting faces. Everyone else in both versions is generally fine but the large cast and mystery structure means no-one really gets anything to do.
The Reason I have gathered you here today.
The Sidney Lumet version is a straightforward (and possibly defining or influential) gather everyone in the room and dont allow anyone to speak until Poirot lays it all out. It's close to 20 mins of a 2 hour film and cant quite make sense off all the plot (it is very very silly) and the reveal of the complicated version of who stabbed Richard Widmark is too absurd to work as drama as with each holding of the dagger it gets more laughable.
Branaghs version tries to open it up with a last supper style table set up in a railway tunnel which is far sillier but the emotional impact is far better. It ups the ante considerably with a ruse to prove if anyone is a capable cold blooded killer, that combined with his personal connection to the case makes his final decision on the solution of the case make more sense on a character level.
Both have problems coming to grips with the ways clues are presented in the story, as it really doesnt make sense and some of the details dropped in the '17 take (like why the time of the murder is important) are slightly more adequately dealt with in the '74 which doesnt waste time on two very small and pointless action scenes.
Both are fine.