Who Killed the Mystery Movie?

Bakhtin's Cigarettes

FinneyI was at the library last week when I spotted one of my favorite movies on the DVD shelf, Sidney Lumet’s Murder on the Orient Express.  It was the first of those star-studded mystery extravaganzas that would people would flock to in to the 1980s, usually to see Peter Ustinov. But Lumet’s film is far better than any of its successors.  Albert Finney delivers a brilliant, eccentric performance as the super-sleuth Hercule Poirot, and the lavish production values make for a great period piece. Most importantly, the film is a masterpiece in a genre which has almost disappeared: the serious mystery movie.

The mystery genre itself, of course, is thriving. It seems like every other book I see on the New Arrivals shelf is just another entry in some mystery series. And such short, light novels translate almost perfectly to an episode of a television show, of the…

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