Death on the Nile (1978)

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Released 14-Apr-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Mystery Main Menu Audio
Featurette-Making Of
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1978
Running Time 134:06 (Case: 101)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (76:15) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By John Guillermin

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Peter Ustinov
Jane Birkin
Lois Chiles
Bette Davis
Mia Farrow
Jon Finch
Olivia Hussey
David Niven
Maggie Smith
Angela Lansbury
Case ?
RPI $36.95 Music Nino Rota

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Produced by the same people (John Brabourne and Richard B. Goodwin) that brought us the reasonable adaptation of Murder On The Orient Express, this film is almost a "sequel." Nevertheless, it features a different director (John Guillermin) and a different Poirot (Peter Ustinov). Peter certainly captures Poirot's conceitedness and arrogance down pat, but not his fastidiousness and tendency towards dandyness.

    Jacqueline De Bellefort (Mia Farrow) persuades her rich friend to give her boyfriend Simon Doyle (Simon MacCorkindale) a job. Her friend is none other than rich heiress Linnet Ridgeway (Lois Chiles) - the "Kalgoorlie Princess."

    Next thing you know, Simon and Linnet have fallen in love and married. Is Jacqueline upset? You betcha! She decides to stalk them on their honeymoon trip to Egypt and generally give them a hard time.

    On a paddle steamer cruise on the river Nile, Linnet is shot in the head whilst sleeping. Fortunately, none other than the famous detective Hercule Poirot (Peter Ustinov) happens to be on board, along with a James Bond like secret agent called Colonel Johnny Race (David Niven).

    It emerges that nearly everyone on board has a motive for wanting to kill Linnet, for she has made many enemies. And all of them certainly had the opportunity to commit the crime. Even Poirot appear stumped, but when the murderer strikes again to silence a witness, clues emerge.

    The key characters/suspects are:

    This is well structured as a murder mystery, in fact possibly too symmetrical and more structured than I remember from my reading of Agatha Christie's novel. The ending doesn't really translate well onto the screen and comes across as being too fantastic and concocted. Here's a hint for those who want to guess the ending: the murderer in these stories is always the person "least likely" to be able to commit the crime - either from a motive, opportunity or "alibi" perspective.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


    This is a widescreen 1.78:1 transfer, 16x9 enhanced, sourced from a 35mm film print with an intended aspect ratio of 1.85:1. Judging from the framing, I felt that the transfer could potentially have been matted to an even wider aspect ratio - perhaps 2.00:1.

    This is a somewhat soft, low contrast and slightly grainy transfer. Colours on the film print appear to have faded and the overall look of the transfer is on the yellowish/brownish side (and we're not just talking about the scenes in Egypt!).

    Detail levels were reasonable, with the fine print on the close-up on the newspaper at around 7:47-7:58 being just readable. The grain hides very low level detail.

    Fortunately, compression artefacts are limited to some Gibb's effect ringing around the opening titles and are generally absent from most of the film.

    There are no subtitle tracks on this single sided dual layered disc (RSDL-formatted). The layer change occurs at 76:15 and results in a slight pause.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There is only one audio track: English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s). I suspect this is a mono soundtrack and certainly there did not seem to be any significant stereo effects.

    The audio track sounds rather dated, with an overall sound that is dull with some mid range bloom. Low frequencies also seem attenuated.

    The background music is by Nino Rota and sound appropriately grandiose and orchestral.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    I was not really expecting any extras, so I was pleasantly surprised to discover a making of featurette included.


    The menu is 16x9 enhanced. It is static but includes background audio.

Featurette-Making Of (22:34)

    This is presented in full frame and Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s) which I suspect is monaural. This covers the construction of a replica of the S. S. Karnak in Pinewood Studios for the night time scenes, as well as excerpts from the film. It also includes interviews with:

Theatrical Trailer (2:45)

    This is presented in Pan & Scan and Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s).

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;

    The Region 1 version is slightly ahead in terms of features, but not by much.


    Death On The Nile is another big budget star-studded production of Agatha Christie's novel featuring the Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, from the same producers that brought us Murder On The Orient Express.

    The video and audio quality are mediocre, but consistent with the age of the film.

    Extras include a "making of" featurette.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Christine Tham (read my biography)
Wednesday, February 26, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DVD-RP82, using Component output
DisplaySony VPL-VW11HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (254cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE (upgraded)
SpeakersFront and surrounds: B&W CDM7NT, front centre: B&W CDMCNT, surround backs: B&W DM601S2, subwoofer: B&W ASW2500

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