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Trivia / Death on the Nile

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  • Ability over Appearance: Peter Ustinov doesn't match Christie's description of Poirot, but he nails it.
  • Actor-Shared Background: David Niven in the 1978 film served in the military, like his character Colonel Race (though he only achieved the rank of Lieutenant).
  • All-Star Cast:
  • Backed by the Pentagon: The Egyptian government supported the 1978 film because it was "unpolitical", and there were a large amount of Agatha Christie fans in the country.
  • California Doubling: Pointedly averted, as the film was shot on-location. Bette Davis commented.
    "In the older days, they'd have built the Nile for you. Nowadays, films have become travelogues and actors, stuntmen."
  • The Danza: Simon Doyle is played by Simon MacCorkindale in the 1978 film.
  • Doing It for the Art: The costumes in the 1978 version. Lois Chiles wears shoes with diamond-studded heels, and Bette Davis's were made from the scales of over twenty pythons. Anthony Powell won the film's only Oscar for these costumes.
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  • Fake Brit: In the 1978 version, Mia Farrow (Jacqueline) is American. Downplayed with the Argentinian-born Olivia Hussey as Rosalie - as she grew up in London and therefore didn't have to fake an accent.
  • Fake Nationality:
    • In the 1978 version and the ITV version, Belgian Hercule Poirot is played by a British actor: Peter Ustinov in the former and David Suchet in the latter.
    • In the 1978 version, the French maid Louise is played by Jane Birkin (English).
    • The German Dr Bessner in the 1978 version is played by the American actor Jack Warden.
  • Follow the Leader: Both the 1978 and 2020 films were greenlit following a successful adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express.
  • Hostility on the Set: Bette Davis and Olivia Hussey didn't get on during filming. In her autobiography, Olivia joked that Bette would have preferred their cast picture to be taken with her in a dinghy behind the boat.
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  • The Other Darrin: Albert Finney was asked to reprise his role as Poirot, but he refused since he didn't want to have to go through the process of a three hour makeup job in the Egyptian heat.
  • Name's the Same: Canon Pennyfather, Poirot's replacement in Christie's stage play Murder on the Nile, is also the name of a character from the Miss Marple novel At Bertram's Hotel.
  • Troubled Production: As you would expect of a seven week shoot on-location in Egypt, four of which were on the boat itself. Every day, filming had to be stopped for two hours at noon, because the heat was just too intense. On the boat, no one was allowed a dressing room - Maggie Smith, Angela Lansbury and Bette Davis in fact having to share a room. And on land, no hotel reservations had been made, and cast and crew shifted from hotel to hotel - sometimes on a daily basis. The rushes couldn't be seen by John Guillerman, as producers ordered them to be sent straight to London. Also no telephones were available the whole time they were in Egypt, requiring people to communicate by telex. Despite this, John Guillerman said everyone got into the spirit of the film and most of the cast got on very well.
  • Uncredited Role: In the 1978 film, Indian actor Saeed Jaffrey is uncredited as the man who discovers Louise's body.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • The 1978 film at one point was going to be titled Murder on the Nile to let audiences know it was a sequel to Murder on the Orient Express. Some of the original poster artwork has that title.
    • At one point, Michael York was attached to star in the 1978 film.


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