Thursday, September 8, 2022

Thursday Movie Picks- Historical Mysteries


Wandering through the Shelves chose a good one but my brain must be tired because I was stumped. I already used “The Name of the Rose” so I started to think of real mysteries and came up with the 3 I have listed below.


Based on an Agatha Christie novel which, I am certain, she based on the famous Lindbergh baby kidnapping case, stars Albert Finney as the famous detective, Hercules Poirot, on board the famous Orient Express filled with some very interesting characters. He is asked by an American business man to find out who might be trying to kill him but Poirot shows no interest but, before you can say “knife”, the man is knifed to death. Now, Poirot must find out who the murderer is and he has the time to do it since a huge amount of snow fell on top of the tracks. I love this film with some great actors, Sean Connery, Lauren Bacall, Anthony Perkins, Wendy Hiller and Ingrid Bergman, who won an Oscar for her role, chewing up the scenery. This is a regal acting tour de force. I haven’t seen the remake but I bet it’s not as good as this original.


Sherlock Holmes, along with Dr. Watson, are trying to figure out who Jack the Ripper is in this lesser known film of this famous sleuth. Christopher Plummer plays Holmes with James Mason as Watson, decided to play these characters with more human ways than the Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce Films. Jack the Ripper is at large, and, as we all know, is one of the most famous serial killers that is yet unidentified. This film follows the belief that the Masonic Order is part of this horrible mystery that try to thwart Holmes and Watson from finding out the truth. I really liked this film which, I thought, was quite well acted and a new way of presenting these characters. I’d love to see it again as it has been decades.


I need to see the original 1939 movie because, I bet, it is better than this version. This man actually did exist but he was not in an iron mask but a red velvet one and was given  everything he needed except his freedom and he was not allowed to talk. This took place during the reign of King Louis 14th, the Sun King and the hypothesis is that this man was a dead ringer for the king and may have even been his twin brother. In order to maintain his crown, the King had his doppelgänger locked up. Alexander Dumas wrote a story  based on this prisoner, but put him in an iron mask and, from there, the legend grew along with movies. This film stars Leonardo in the dual role of the snotty ass King and the humble, smelly prisoner who is liberated by the 3 Musketeers. Now they wish to place this kid on the throne and put snot in the prison but complications arise. It’s a fun frolic but Leo seemed overwhelmed by this role and the film could have been better but it’s still fun to watch.

Which films can you think of?


  1. Hi, Birgit!

    Mrs. Shady and I recently watched the 2017 remake of Murder On The Orient Express with Kenneth Branagh, Penelope Cruz and Willem Dafoe. It was good, but lacked the star power, class and lavish texture of the 1974 Sidney Lumet film.

    I have not seen the two other movies you selected, but I am always enthused about watching a good mystery. As subscribers to Britbox, Mrs. S and I routinely watch British TV mystery series. Murder By Decree looks like one I'd especially enjoy. James Mason's speaking parts always crack me up because he sounds like he's doing a comic impression of his own voice.

    Mrs. S is a Leo DiCaprio completist and a history buff. Therefore, I'm sure she would enjoy watching him play a dual role in the 1998 historical action drama The Man in the Iron Mask.

    I recommend the 1976 TV movie Helter Skelter about the probe into the Manson Family slayings of Sharon Tate and others. I also recommend the 1968 film The Boston Strangler starring Tony Curtis, the 1986 miniseries The Deliberate Stranger starring Mark Harmon as Ted Bundy, the 1999 TV movie The Hunt for the Unicorn Killer starring my favorite actress Naomi Watts, and the 1989 TV movie The Case of the Hillside Stranglers starring two of my favorite actors, Dick Crenna (of The Real McCoys) and Dennis Farina (of L&O and Buddy Faro).

    Thanks for three straight days of fun and entertainment, dear friend BB. Please give my good buddy Harley plenty o' lubbins and enjoy the rest of your week and weekend!

  2. Good thing you came up with three as my mind also went blank.

  3. Oh man, I caught part of Man in the Iron Mask on TV the other day. I forgot how corny that version is. I've never seen the 30's one either.

  4. Wow I have seen all three…both of our cinemas have closed recently so unless it’s on dvd we cannot see any new films….sad days xxxx

  5. Sooooo. I came up with these three:
    1. Lucy Worsley Investigates: Princes in the Tower - a TV movie
    2. Lizzie Borden Took an Axe - another TV movie
    3. Amelia - about Amelia Earhart

    I've seen Murder on the Orient Express but not your other two choices.

  6. Hi Birgit - I've seen the Murder on the Orient Express .. the others I haven't - except I know the stories ... thanks for all the suggestions yours and your commenters - cheers Hilary

  7. Hello Birgit, great choices and I've actually seen two of them, Man in the Iron Mask and Murder on the Orient Express. I've never heard of the Sherlock Holmes film although I know the story. I hope all is well with you, Kate x

  8. The Kenneth Branagh versions of Poirot aren't bad. It's been a long time (if at all) that I've seen other versions, but I've seen the Orient Express one and the boat one. (Name escapes me at the moment.) Worth your time if you come across them.

  9. Oh I ADORE this version of Murder on the Orient Express!!! Everything a star-studded old style mystery should be-big stars who can actually act, glamorous costumes and settings, a solid script and assured direction. I know Ingrid won (a notoriously derided win, though I think she's excellent as always it's not an Oscar worthy performance and it cost her her just prize a couple of years on for Autumn Sonata) but if anyone was going to get a prize for this it should have been Betty Bacall. I revisit the film at the very least once a year and often more. The new (thoroughly unnecessary) remake is dark and dour draining all the joy, class and fun from the story.

    It has likewise been years for me since I saw Murder by Decree but I recall it being a solid picture with Christopher Plummer and James Mason working well together.

    The story of Man in the Iron Mask is so rock solid and intriguing that it can withstand just about anything including this inane version. Leo looks hilarious in his extensions and never seems to have a firm handle on the role. I don't know if there has been a definitive version made yet. The 1939 is good but I've never been a big Louis Hayward fan though Joan Bennett is good as the beleagued, confused Maria Theresa but the 70's TV version with Richard Chamberlain, Jenny Agutter and a host of great character actors is better since Chamberlain is more at home in the role.

    The first three that come to mind are Robert Altman's wonderful "Gosford Park", the ridiculous but very fun "Clue" and any of the many versions of Agatha Christie's "And Then There Were None", the best of which is surely the 40's take with Barry Fitzgerald and Judith Anderson but I have a soft spot for the silly 60's Ten Little Indians with Hugh O'Brian and Fabian.

  10. I like The Man in the Iron Mask movie too. And I especially love the score.

  11. I've never seen any of your choices, but I read the novel "Murder on the Orient Express," so I knew all about it.

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  15. Sorry - typos! Try again:
    I enjoyed the first two and didn't see Leo's version of Iron Mask, but rather the 1977 TV version, starring Richard Chamberlain. One movie that comes to mind is From Hell, with Johnny Depp as a drug-addicted detective investigating Jack the Ripper. Have a good weekend!☺

  16. Excellent choices. YOU have a great weekend.

  17. Hmmm.... This is a toughie.
    Birgit, I haven't seen any of your choices, and the only thing I can think of is the Neo-Noir 'CHINATOWN' with R.P. McMurphy-- er... I mean, Jack Nicholson.

    It's a pretty good murder-mystery movie which includes some historically accurate information about the struggle for water rights in burgeoning Los Angeles.

    What about another Neo-Noir murder-mystery, 'DEAD AGAIN'? A great, underrated movie that incorporated a lot of historical details in the modern-day telling of the story.

    ~ D-FensDogG

  18. Would recommend the Richard Chamberlain version for your last choices. Really adore the others you mentioned.