Richard Widmark as Cassetti in the 1974 film

Cassetti (using the alias Samuel Edward Ratchett) is the main antagonist in Murder on the Orient Express.

Cassetti has been portrayed on screen by various actors, including Richard Widmark, Peter Strauss, Toby Jones, and Johnny Depp.

Biography[edit | edit source]

Cassetti was the leader of a gang which kidnapped people for ransom. According to Poirot, their methods was well-known to the American police. After a kidnap, if the police appeared to be closing in on them, they would kill their victim, while continuing to extract as much money as possible before the crime was discovered.

Some years before the events on the Orient Express, Cassetti and his gang had kidnapped Daisy Armstrong, the daughter of Colonel Armstrong. Following their usual method, their collected the ransom of $200,000. After the ransom was paid, the dead body of Daisy was discovered, having been dead at least a fortnight, suggesting that they killed her before collecting the ransom, conforming to their usual methods. In this case, however, Cassetti was arrested for the crime and put on trial but by means of the wealth he had accumulated and the "secret hold over various persons" he managed to have himself acquitted over some technical inaccuracy.

Subsequently, Cassetti left America and went into hiding, changing his name to Samuel Edward Ratchett.

Following Cassetti's aquittal, Linda Arden, Daisy's grandmother, gathered a group of interested parties for the purpose of avenging the crime and bringing the criminal to justice. The planning for the group went ahead, with Cyrus Hardman, a fellow group member being sent locate Ratchett. Thereafter two other group members managed to infiltrate Ratchett's staff. Edward Masterman managed to gain employment as his valet and Hector MacQueen became his secretary.

The Orient Express[edit | edit source]

As secretary, Hector MacQueen had an insight into and influence on Ratchett's travelling schedules and was able to alert the Linda's group to a suitable journey on the Orient Express which his employer would be making from Istanbul to Europe after having bought some tiles and antique pottery in Persia. Acting on MacQueen's information, Linda's group were able to book tickets on the same train.

During the journey out of Istanbul, Ratchett occupied First class compartment No. 2, with Linda Arden in First class Compartment 3 with a connecting door. Poirot was in First class compartment 1 which Monsieur Bouc had vacated for him.

On the morning of the first day out of Istanbul, Ratchett approached Poirot and offered $20,000. He tells Poirot that his life had been threatened. he carried a gun but wanted to be douby sure by having Poirot protect him. Poirot declines the case on the grounds that he did not like his face. Earlier at the Tokatlian Hotel, Poirot had remarked to Bouc that his "small, deep set and craft eyes" suggested that he was a malevolent man.

In the early hours of the next day, after the train had left Belgrade in between Vinkovci and Brod, Ratchett was murdered but his body was only found in the morning after 11 a.m. Ratchett had not answered several calls. His compartment door had been chained and had to be broken into by the Conductor and the Chef de Train.

Ratchett's watch was stopped at 1.15 a.m. This suggested either that the murder took place at 1.15 am. Alternatively Ratchett's watch was still on Eastern European time and Ratchett had forgotten to set his watch back 1 hour when they passed through Tzaribrod (Dimitrovgrad, Serbia), thus the event could have taken place at 12.15 Central European time.

Portrayals[edit | edit source]

Murder on the Orient Express (1974)[edit | edit source]

Richard Widmark as Ratchett in the 1974 film

In the 1974 movie, Ratchett is played by Richard Widmark.

Unlike the other versions of the story, Ratchett is directly introduced to the audience with the Armstrong kidnapping scene.

Samuel Ratchett was actually named Lanfranco Cassetti, a Mafia gangster operating out of Chicago.

At 3:00 in the morning of April 17, 1930, Cassetti took an unnamed Mafia colleague of his with him to The Armstrong Family Home in Long Island, New York. They were going to kidnap the 3-year-old daughter of Colonel Hamish John Armstrong and Sonia Armstrong: Daisy Armstrong. The parents and their secretary Mary Debenham were out of the house, being driven to the airport by their chauffeur Gino Foscarelli. They were going to Washington, D.C., to see Linda Arden perform in Salome.

Cassetti climbed into the house by entering through the window of the bedroom next to Daisy's bedroom, on the second floor of the house. As his partner went downstairs, Cassetti bound and gagged the nursemaid Greta Ohlsson to a chair. When Greta woke up, she realized that she had been tied up to a chair, and tried to stop Cassetti, crushing some of Daisy's toys in the process. The chair which she was bound to toppled over, leaving her unable to stop Cassetti. Cassetti lifted Daisy, wrapped in a blanket, from her bed and walked out into the hallway. Before heading down the stairway, he dropped what Daisy was holding: her teddy bear.

As Cassetti made his way to the back door, Cassetti's partner snuck up on the butler Edward Beddoes - who had seen Cassetti and tried to attack him - and crushed him down by slamming his fist down on his head, knocking him out. Unfortunately, his actions had been seen by the cook Hildegarde Schmidt.

Cassetti's partner unlocked the back door for Cassetti, and the two of them made their getaway in their limousine: Casseti's partner drove the car at a high speed, away from the mansion. The route they took was witnessed from the garden house by the maid Paulette Michel, and her gentleman caller, NYPD officer Cyrus Hardman.

As Cassetti and his accomplice drove on, they noticed a car heading towards them. The other car, the Armstrong's limousine, swerved into a ditch to avoid ramming the kidnappers' car. Foscarelli exited the vehicle to look back at the kidnappers' car. When he reached the house, he noticed Greta, and realized too late that he had narrowly avoided colliding with the kidnappers' getaway vehicle.

The police were informed immediately and investigations began at once. The police even described the kidnapping to be one of the most vicious crimes ever committed. The kidnapping was so famous that it made headline news in the Daily News, the New York Journal, the Daily Mirror, the Police Gazette, the New York Morning Herald, and the New York Times.

A few hours after the kidnapping, the Armstrongs were informed of Daisy's kidnapping, and Debenham flew them back to the mansion, surrounded by the New York Times press.

3 days later, on April 20th, Cassetti demanded a ransom demand of $200,000. Colonel Armstrong paid the ransom demand and delivered it to a designated spot somewhere in the countryside near the estate. But 3 days later, on April 23rd, Daisy's corpse was found by 2 teenagers, 15 miles outside of the estate; Cassetti's partner had done the murder.

Ratchett looking at Poirot

The same day, Sonia Armstrong collapsed and was immediately hospitalized. Sonia was 6-months-pregnant with a baby girl, expecting the child to be born in June. The shock sent her into premature labor, which proved to be fatal for both her and the baby she was carrying.

Paulette was suspected of aiding the kidnappers, and arrested. She committed suicide by defenstration, and was posthumously cleared of all charges when the proof of her innocence was found.

Consumed with grief, Colonel Armstrong committed suicide by gunshot.

On October 22, Cassetti's accomplice was arrested by the NYPD for the kidnapping and murder. A trial was held on November 16, and he was given a guilty verdict. Prior to the accomplice's arrest, Cassetti betrayed his partner by fleeing the country with the money before the arrest and leaving him to be executed by electric chair on December 11th.

Cassetti changed his name to Samuel Ratchett, relocated to Paris and invested in 13th-century Gorgon and Islamic pottery.

At some point afterwards, Ratchett went to Persia in search of Gorgon pottery to collect. He later hired Hector MacQueen, a bankrupt oil broker who was the son of the District Attorney at the Armstrong trial, to be his secretary and courier. Later on, he hired Edward Beddoes through an intermediary company; Beddoes was to be his valet.

Ratchett is next seen 5 years later, in Istanbul; he was there to collect two 13th-century perforated Islamic pottery bowls and six beakers. However, one of the bowls arrived chipped, which wasn't in the same condition when he paid for it, and one of the beakers was missing. Ratchett doesn't tell this to MacQueen until they boarded the Orient Express to head home.

While having beef soup for lunch, Ratchett tells MacQueen to send a complaint when they reach Belgrade Station, then comments on how MacQueen looks tired. Ratchett tells MacQueen to go get sleep before his bunkmate - Hercule Poirot - returns to his compartment.

Ratchett then offers a case for Poirot: to guard him while he sleeps, as he is a rich man - he lies and says that he is a retired baby food industrialist - and that he has many enemies. He offers Poirot $15,000 for the job, but Poirot declines, saying that his interest in the case is "dwindling". As the train enters a tunnel, Ratchett slips back into his own compartment.

That night, Beddoes gives him a glass of water combined with Valerian and a powerful sleeping drug. Ratchett takes the water, and discovers an envelope with a letter containing the words "Daisy Armstrong". He then asks Beddoes if he left the message on his pillow. When Beddoes responds no, and asks what it is, Ratchett replies, "What it is is none of your damn business; I want to know how it got here". Ratchett tells him to go fetch MacQueen, and not to wake him up until 10:00 in the morning.

Ratchett dead

MacQueen reads Ratchett a copy of the text he sent from Belgrade. As MacQueen leaves the compartment, Ratchett gargles a glass of water, which he then sticks his dental plate into, and removes his robe. He then crawls into bed and takes another look at the letter, and the effects of the drugs kick in, knocking him unconscious.

Later that night, MacQueen enters Ratchett's compartment, and opens the door to Mrs. Hubbard's neighboring compartment. Hubbard and 9 other passengers, plus a Wagons-Lit conductor named Pierre - the father of Paulette Michel - all take turns stabbing Ratchett in the chest before discreetly leaving the compartment, chaining the lock to the door on the way out.

The next morning, Beddoes discovers Ratchett's body while bringing him his pick-me-up, an Amber Moon. Poirot is called on to solve the case and correctly deduces who the killers are, but he lets them go because justice has been served.

Murder on the Orient Express (2001)[edit | edit source]

Peter Strauss as Ratchett in the 2001 TV movie

In the 2001 TV movie, Ratchett is played by Peter Strauss.

He is first introduced when he walks into the Tokatlian Hotel with his secretary William MacQueen. The hotel manager calls him out and tells him that he has a phone call, but when Ratchett answers the phone, an anonymous caller threatens his life. He hangs up and angrily states that he does not want any more phone calls.

He is next seen with MacQueen in his compartment, holding certain papers and photographs. He stares at Poirot as he passes by.

As the train leaves the station, Ratchett hears a knock on his door, and notices a package with his name on it.

He is next seen entering the lunch car, glaring menacingly at the passengers, and causing Helena von Strauss to feel sick. He then talks with MacQueen about the package delivered to him, and MacQueen does not know who delivered it to him. Ratchett tells MacQueen that he doesn't want people sending him stuff for no reason before unwrapping the package - revealed to be a VHS tape - dropping it to the ground, smashing it to smithereens with his shoe, and throwing it at a waiter.

When the other passengers leave, Ratchett approaches Poirot and identifies him, calling him "Mr. Hercules Perot". Poirot then corrects his pronunciation, as to not be confused with the American Presidential candidate Ross Perot. Ratchett recognizes him from the TV show Sleuth Supreme, and Ratchett tells Poirot that he is a connoisseur in ancient Classical Mesopotamian art and pottery, as well as money. He tells Poirot that his life is being threatened, but he does not know who is threatening his life, and reveals his gun holster on a belt around his left arm. He offers Poirot $200,000 tax free, but Poirot refuses, saying that he has been fortunate in his life, as Ratchett has as well, and when Ratchett asks what's wrong with the case, Poirot says, "I find you intolerable", before leaving the compartment.

Ratchett dead

That night, as Ratchett hangs up his jacket, he tells MacQueen what Poirot had said, and insultingly asks, "Who does that pompous French frog think he is?", to which MacQueen tells Ratchett that the name Poirot is Belgian, not French. Ratchett then insultingly asks "How the hell do they call themselves a country?", before taking a pill and washing it down with water.

MacQueen then leaves the compartment, and Ratchett loads his revolver before placing it under his pillow, and going to sleep. The train later stops because of a landslide blocking the tracks, preventing them from proceeding to Belgrade Station.

The next morning, Ratchett is found murdered in his bed, with 9 stab wounds in his chest.

Poirot deduces that Ratchett was actually an American mobster and biker named Cassetti, and nicknamed "The Rattler" by the American press; this was because he had a rattlesnake tattoo imprinted on his chest. He was once successful in the 1980s, but soon became washed-up and overshadowed by other criminals of the decade.

3 years before the events of the story, in 1998, The Rattler, desperate for attention, became responsible for kidnapping Daisy Armstrong: a 7-year-old girl who was the daughter of socialite Sonya Armstrong and billionaire software designer Steve Armstrong. The Rattler had kidnapped Daisy Armstrong from her New York home and demanded a ransom sum. The Armstrongs paid the ransom, but The Rattler murdered Daisy anyway.

Sonya Armstrong went into premature labor with a second baby that she was carrying, and died from injuries sustained from a fatal miscarriage, and Steve Armstrong subsequently blew his head off with a pistol. Desperate to arrest someone, the NYPD arrested a French nursemaid who fell under false accusation of aiding the kidnapper, and a week before she would face a trial, she somehow managed to hang herself in her jail cell.

"The Rattler"

The NYPD would eventually find The Rattler and arrest him, but he used his newfound wealth to hire 3 of the best defense lawyers that got him off on a technicality.

The Rattler then went to a clinic to transform himself: at the time of the kidnapping, he was bald, had a moustache, wore glasses, and had the rattlesnake tattoo on his chest. He went through laser surgery to remove the tattoo, leaving a scar of the same shape. He also went through laser surgery to correct his myopia so he wouldn't have to wear glasses anymore; this left his corneas symmetrically scarred. He also shaved his moustache, grew hair on his head, and changed his name to Sam Ratchett.

Ratchett would spend the next years of his life looting archeological sites, and making money in the process.

While on the train, MacQueen did not give Ratchett a melatonin pill like usual, but a different pill that drugged him as he slept.

Later, MacQueen opened the conjoining door to Mrs. Hubbard's compartment, and everyone arrived to kill Ratchett. Arbuthnot was the first to strike Ratchett's stomach. This blow was likely the one that killed him, as when Arbuthnot plunged the knife into him, Ratchett convulsed forward and blood started leaking from his mouth, whereas when the others do, Ratchett does not move. After all 8 passengers, plus Pierre the conductor, finished him off, they exited into Mrs. Hubbard's compartment.

At Belgrade Main Railway Station, Ratchett's body is loaded into a black body bag on a stretcher.

Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express (2006)[edit | edit source]

Ratchett in the video game

In the 2006 video game adaptation, Cassetti is voiced by Sean Donnellan, who also voices Count Andrenyi in the game.

Ratchett is first introduced talking with Hector MacQueen at the main entrance of Sirkeci Station in Istanbul. Ratchett plans to bring a statue worth $4,000 back to Paris with them by way of the Orient Express, and will sell it to an unknown party who, in turn, will sell it to tourists. Ratchett comments that at least the dust on the statue looks authentic.

When Mademoiselle Antoinette Marceau arrives, and tries to make her way into the station to rendezvous with Hercule Poirot, the two men are blocking her path. Ratchett does not move, and acts very rude towards her and MacQueen. Only after Marceau threatens to have Line Director Bouc never let Ratchett ride the Orient Express again, Ratchett doubts that she could make that rule stick, but stands aside so that she can pass.

Though not seen, Ratchett boards the train as it departs from Sirkeci Station, as the train goes on its usual route through Istanbul, Belgrade, Vinkovci, Venice, Milan, and Paris.

Ratchett is later seen talking with MacQueen over lunch. MacQueen confirms that the statue is in the baggage car. Ratchett then says that if the statue is damaged, he "might enjoy owning a railroad". During a conversation between Marceau and Poirot, Marceau later makes remarks about Ratchett, stating that, despite his fine clothes and nice table manners, he is very coarse and brutish. Ratchett keeps glaring towards them, and Poirot identifies whom he is looking at: not Marceau, but him.

Hector MacQueen and Ratchett at Sirkeci Station

Ratchett says that he is not having dessert, and tells Hector to go write a letter. Poirot then walks towards him, and the two of them engage in conversation. Ratchett tries to hire Poirot (this Ratchett pronounces it "Pwoi-row" instead of "Puh-row") to become his bodyguard, as he is a rich man and has made many enemies in the past. Poirot refuses the offer, saying, "I do not like your face."

That night, after stopping at Belgrade Station to pick up another passenger and load of supplies, the train almost crashes into a snowdrift; a similar incident happened back in 1929, when the train was left in the snow for a whole week, and the only way those people survived was because they had to hunt wolves for food. The snowdrift prevents them from continuing on to Vinkovci.

The next morning, Ratchett's lifeless body is discovered, lying in bed, with 12 stab wounds scattered all over his torso: 2 or more of the wounds are so haphazard and slight as to be mere scratches, but at least 3 of the wounds are so deep that they were driven through belts of bone and muscle, and were so ferocious that they were capable of severing blood vessels and causing death.

Through careful investigations, Poirot and Marceau reveal that Ratchett was actually a gangster named Cassetti, who was the known criminal mastermind of several kidnappings.

10 years ago, in June of 1924, Cassetti planned out the kidnapping and murder of a girl named Daisy Armstrong.

Daisy Armstrong's father was Toby Armstrong, a Colonel of The Royal Northumberland Fusiliers. He served in the Great War, then India and Afghanistan, and was awarded the V.C.

Daisy Armstrong's mother was Sonia Armstrong, who was the daughter of Broadway tragedian Linda Arden and theatrical producer Mark Gilbert.

The three Armstrongs lived in a family brownstone on Park Avenue in the Midtown Manhattan area of New York City, and a house in the village of Great Neck in Long Island.

For the kidnapping, Cassetti hired 2 down-on-their-luck men: brothers Jeffrey Paul Perkinson and Robert Perkinson.

Ratchett dead

On June 11, 1924, Daisy and her nursemaid Suzanne Ferrier went for a walk in Central Park. Seizing advantage of the opportunity, the Perkinson brothers snatched Daisy from the nursemaid's arms and ran off. 3 days later, on June 14, the kidnappers demanded a ransom of $200,000. Although it was paid, the child was not returned, and Sonia Armstrong pleaded for her daughter's life.

This crime was so popular that it made headline news in the New York Morning Herald, the New York Gazette, and the Manhattan Daily Wire.

2 weeks later, on June 28, an anonymous witness tipped off the last names of the kidnappers and their whereabouts.

At dawn the next day, on June 29, the NYPD went to an old, abandoned farmhouse - the hideout of Cassetti and the Perkinson Brothers - in the village of New Paltz. During the police raid, they found a shallow grave of quicklime in the woods behind the farmhouse. Inside the grave was Daisy Armstrong's lifeless body. In response to this, the NYPD opened fire on the house, and the Perkinson Brothers surrendered, while Cassetti vanished without a trace.

A day later, on June 30, Sonia Armstrong, horrified by the news, went into premature labour with a second child that she was pregnant with, and both of them died. The following evening, Colonel Armstrong went to the family brownstone, locked himself in his study, and fatally shot himself.

On July 24, the Perkinson Brothers were held on trial. At the trial, they tearfully admitted their guilt, and confessed that Cassetti was not only the mastermind of the crime, but also murdered Daisy Armstrong, having fatally shot the little girl. The brothers were tried and convicted, and the judge sentenced them to the maximum penalty for the crime: execution by electric chair. During the sentencing, the brothers tried to make a daring escape. Although Robert got away, Jeffrey did not and was recaptured.

A newspaper in the New York Morning Herald concerning Cassetti's escape from the country

On August 2, Jeffrey Perkinson took his last walk, pleading for forgiveness, and was executed. The same day, a relative noticed Robert Perkinson's lifeless body floating in the New York Harbor; it was unknown as to whether Cassetti killed him or if Robert committed suicide.

3 days later, Suzanne committed suicide by throwing herself from a window. The police had questioned her relentlessly, refusing to believe her hysterical denials, in the hopes that she would lead them to Cassetti. When she died, the police still suspected that she had guilty knowledge of the crime, but was later proven to be completely innocent of any complicity of which she was suspected.

While all of this happened, Cassetti had secretly fled the country, changed his name to Samuel Ratchett, and made his way to Europe, living as an art dealer working in Paris.

Sometime after this, Ratchett was staying in a hotel in Persia when he had a row with his secretary, which led to the secretary's official dismissal. At the same time, Hector MacQueen, an oil broker based out of Tribeca, was trying to collect oil concessions and smuggle it out of Persia with so little success that he and his friends went bankrupt. Ratchett offered MacQueen - who was staying in the same hotel - the job of being his secretary. Ratchett was trying to collect antiquities and pottery, but had a hard time doing so because he knew no languages. MacQueen took the job and became his secretary and translator.

In February 1934, Ratchett hired Edward Masterman to be his valet after Masterman's previous master, Sir Henry Tomlinson, left from Grosvenor Square in London to work in East Africa and didn't need Masterman anymore. Masterman took the job and became Ratchett's valet.

By August 1934, Cassetti was believed to have fled the country, as clues had led them from New York all the way down to Mexico and Brazil, but the trail soon grew cold.

Cassetti's confession

2 weeks before the current events of the story, Ratchett began to recieve letters that threatened his life. In response to this, and thinking that his enemies were closing in, Ratchett wrote his final letter, asking the authorities to read this letter to a priest of the Holy Roman Catholic Church to absolve him of the sins that he has done.

In the letter, Ratchett confesses to murdering Daisy Armstrong at the Perkinson Farmhouse because the brothers balked at doing the job, and after he shot Daisy, he strangled her when the gunshot proved to be non-fatal, and buried her in quicklime, since it works swiftly, but there was too much of the quicklime that the police noticed where the grave was.

Ratchett also confesses that the Perkinsons were innocent of the murder if not the kidnapping, and feels confident that when they awaited the sentence on high judgment, due consideration was given for their innocence, and that when they died, the truth would never be known. Ratchett also confesses to using the innocent, desperate, and gullible people that he had hired to carry out his work, and betrayed to the police when he was done with them.

In summary, he is apologetic for organizing Daisy's kidnapping, as well as the other kidnappings he had performed in the past; he is apologetic for those he has hurt just trying to make efforts to earn his daily bread; he is apologetic for those he has used and betrayed; and he is apologetic for the murders he committed in self-defense.

He finishes the letter by asking the Father to absolve him of his sins so that God will forgive him and give him his rightful place in Heaven, and may God have mercy on his soul.

Poirot discovers that all of the passengers, after drugging Ratchett's tumbler glass, murdered Ratchett using a sharp steak knife, although it was made to look like a stiletto knife - used by American Mafiosi - was the weapon that killed him.

Cyrus Hardman had tracked down Ratchett, and Pierre Michel had actually seen Cassetti - quite by accident - boarding the train from Istanbul to Calais, and informed Linda Arden that Ratchett would frequently travel to the Middle East to collect antiquities. Arden, going by the alias Caroline Hubbard, planned the execution out so that Ratchett would hire 2 men to live and work with him, and chose MacQueen and Masterman to be the selected options. MacQueen would handle Ratchett's travel arrangments, and Pierre got him onto a train that would mark the last journey he would embark on.

In addition to this, Poirot also deduces something else: the conductor Pierre Michel, who had helped them out, is not actually Pierre Michel, but a disguised Robert Perkinson.

Pierre Michel is revealed to be Robert Perkinson

Perkinson reveals to a shocked audience that his wife Isabella was the anonymous source mentioned in the papers, and that, because the brothers refused to kill Daisy, Cassetti took matters into his own hands, but killed the wrong girl: instead of killing Daisy, Cassetti mistook Robert Perkinson's daughter Teresa for Daisy and shot her instead. Before the brothers knew what had happened, Cassetti vanished without a single trace.

As the police closed in on the farmhouse, a grief-stricken Isabella - who was also living in the farmhouse with them - pleaded with Paul and Robert to let her take the real Daisy away. After Robert's escape, Isabella, to save Robert from being hunted by the public, falsely identified a random man floating in the New York Harbor as Robert Perkinson.

Afraid for the real Daisy's safety, Isabella took Daisy to France, where Robert would soon join them. Robert knew that they should have returned Daisy to her real family, but Isabella would have died from grief upon learning the news. To keep this a secret, they renamed Daisy as "Teresa".

9 years later, Isabella died from cancer, and "Teresa" had now been living in Belgrade with Isabella's sister. Robert sought out Michel, who had accidentally seen Cassetti boarding the train. Michel informed Robert of the plan to punish Cassetti for his crime, and despite the fact that Cassetti caused his daughter's death, Michel couldn't bring himself to kill Cassetti. Robert asked Michel if Arden or the others had met him in person, and Michel replied that they did not. Robert then decided to take on the identity of Michel when Michel himself would not be there but the others would.

On the day of the train's departure, "Teresa" snuck onto the train, dressed in an attendant's uniform, and has been "camping out" in Ratchett's crate in the baggage car. She has also brought her schoolbooks on board, and has been studying the English and French languages. Robert stole some Slanina bacon from Klaus Herkensheimer's kitchen to give to her, and dumped the statue that Ratchett was planning to bring back to Paris with him onto a trash heap near Sirkeci Station.

As Perkinson finishes telling them everything, a 13-year-old Daisy Armstrong walks into the room and embraces her father figure.

Agatha Christie's Poirot: Murder on the Orient Express (2010)[edit | edit source]

Toby Jones as Ratchett in the 2010 Poirot episode

In the Agatha Christie's Poirot episode Murder on the Orient Express, Ratchett is played by Toby Jones.

Ratchett is shown in his hotel, frantically packing his suitcase. When MacQueen knocks on the door, Ratchett pulls out a Beretta M1934, but tucks it away when Hector MacQueen reveals himself, and tells him the details of the property in Napoli that he wishes to purchase; Ratchett tells him to wait downstairs.

Ratchett is later seen sitting down with his suitcase near the front desk, and when the bellhop tries to carry the suitcase for him, Ratchett refuses and says that if he needed assistance, he would have asked for it. He then glares at Poirot as he walks away.

On the train, Masterman knocks on the door to Ratchett's compartment: Number 10. Ratchett opens the door looking very stressed, and Masterman gives him a stomach settler.

Later, as Mary Debenham walks to her compartment, Ratchett opens his compartment door and tells Pierre Michel that he has been calling him for 10 minutes. Ratchett begins acting smooth towards Debenham as he grabs her hand asking to know her name. Ratchett notices her left hand, which is limp, and asks if it works; Debenham walks away distressed.

Pierre enters Ratchett's compartment, and Ratchett tells Pierre to shut the door. Pierre notices Ratchett's suitcase full of money in $20 dollar bills. Ratchett demands to know the names of the passengers, their nationality, and their destination. Pierre informs Ratchett that his company policy forbids it, but Ratchett silences him and bribes him with a single $5 dollar bill to tell him the information that he needs to know.

Toby Jones Ratchett.jpg

Ratchett later approaches Poirot and hires him for nightly protection, as he is a rich man, and has made several enemies in the past. Feeling remorse for the actions that he has done in the past, Ratchett is planning to go to Calais to return something before he is forgiven, and has even turned to God for help, having not believed in him before.

Poirot refuses the case, and when Ratchett sets down 2 stacks of money as an invitation for a poker game, Poirot says that he will not partake in the game, and Ratchett takes back his money and leaves.

Later that night, Ratchett confronts Edward Masterman and MacQueen about a piece of paper left on his bed, and demands to know if they left it on his bed. When they say no, and ask what is, Ratchett says that it is of no importance of them. When neither of them take responsiblity or were aware that anyone tried to break into his compartment, Ratchett frustratedly asks, "So what do I pay you?!", and demands them to leave.

Then Ratchett sits down on his bed and fearfully begins praying to God, confessing to God the sins that he has done to cleanse the evil that he has done and deliver him from danger. Then Poirot, as he lies in bed, hears a bloodcurdling scream from Ratchett's compartment, and Ratchett says - in French - that it was nothing, just a nightmare.

The next morning, as Masterman arrives with Ratchett's pick-me-up - an Amber Moon - he discovers that Ratchett has been murdered, with 12 bloody stab wounds in his chest. Doctor Constantine and Poirot investigate the body and Poirot concludes that while most of them missed vital organs, two stabs to Ratchett's heart proved fatal. They also discover Ratchett's suitcase full of $200,000 in $20 dollar bills.

Poirot then discovers - after hearing Ratchett's employees talk about him, and after encrypting a message on the burnt remains of the paper discovered on his bed - that Samuel Ratchett was an alias for Lanfranco Cassetti, a Mafia henchman operating out of Chicago, Illinois.

5 years ago, in 1933, Cassetti eventually went off on his own to kidnap a 5-year-old girl named Daisy Armstrong from her estate Edenfield in Long Island, New York. He planned it out meticulously: he became a smooth, talkative customer in a shop owned by the Armstrongs' housemaid Francoise. Francoise let slip some details about the house, including when she wouldn't be there. On the eve of the kidnapping, Mary Debenham tried to stop Cassetti from escaping, but Cassetti bludgeoned her with a leather sap, leaving half of her body paralyzed, including her left hand.

Ratchett dead

Less than an hour after the kidnapping, Cassetti killed Daisy and left her lifeless body in the woods. Cassetti left clues in various places, and demanded a ransom of $200,000 in $20 dollar bills. Despite the ransom being paid, Daisy's corpse was discovered by the police. Daisy's mother Sonia, who had been expecting another baby, suffered a fatal miscarriage. Daisy's father Colonel Armstrong, unable to face another morning, fatally shot himself, and Francoise was arrested on suspicion of complicity in the kidnapping, and a week before she would go on trial, she hanged herself in her jail cell.

Cassetti was arrested for the crime, but his Chicago associates had leverage on the prosecuters, and threatened to kill Hector MacQueen - who was the son of the District Attorney working on the case - if he did not rig the trial to let Cassetti go. After the jury let him off on a "technicality", the evidence was "misplaced", and Cassetti walked away a free man, while D.A. MacQueen ended his career in shame.

Cassetti escaped to Europe and - despite the fact that he got away with the money - he felt tremendous guilt over the pain and suffering he had caused for the kidnap and murder. It wasn't until he boarded the Orient Express that the friends and extended relatives of the Armstrong family took the law into their own hands and conspired to murder him.

As Cassetti took his night whiskey, it was spiked with a powerful drug that paralyzed him, preventing him from sleeping, and leaving him unable to move. Then the 12 people snuck into the compartment and all took turns stabbing him to death, while Princess Dragomiroff read from the Holy Bible, condemning his soul to hell.

Unlike the other versions, Poirot does not initially let them go, instead brutally critizing and admonishing them for taking the law into their own hands, which they had no right to do. A furious Colonel Arbuthnot impulsively pulls out a gun and threatens to kill Poirot, but is stopped by Mary Debenham because if he does, they will end up like Cassetti - gangsters on the run.

Poirot struggles with his conscience and morality before eventually letting them go, as in the end, justice has prevailed.

Murder on the Orient Express (2017)[edit | edit source]

Johnny Depp as Edward Ratchett in the 2017 film

In the 2017 film, Ratchett is played by Johnny Depp, an actor famous for playing Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Carribean movies, and soon played Gellert Grindelwald in J.K. Rowling's Fantastic Beasts and the Crimes of Grindelwald.

In this version, the names are changed: Lanfranco Cassetti is changed to John Cassetti, and Samuel Ratchett is changed to Edward Ratchett.

In this version, Cassetti was born in 1879, and is 55 years old.

Ratchett is first seen walking into the Sirkeci Station bar with his secretary Hector MacQueen, with his butler Edward Masterman not far behind. The waiter offers Ratchett the best table in the restaurant, but Ratchett chooses a different one.

Ratchett is later shown when Count Andrenyi attacks several men in the restaurant when a man tries to take his photograph. Ratchett gets up from his seat and walks off.

Ratchett boards the Simplon-Orient Express, with stops in Sofia, Niš, Belgrade, Vinkovci, and Brod, with transfers to Bucharest, Zagreb, Trieste, Venice, Milan, Lausanne, Bazel, Dijon, Paris, Boulogne-sur-Mer, and Calais, with connections to Dover and London. As Poirot walks to MacQueen's compartment, Ratchett greets him.

Ratchett is later seen drinking a glass of whiskey before walking to his compartment. As he does this, he asks what the hell is taking them so long to move the train, and tells Masterman to fetch his dictaphone, and to have the conductors make his bed when they start moving, even though Masterman tells him that it's already been arranged. As they walk by Princess Dragomiroff's table, Ratchett makes rude remarks about her dogs being on the table. Ratchett also tells Masterman to fetch MacQueen and tell him to bring all of the receipts from their Milan sale. He then takes his gun out of his holster and puts it in his jacket pocket before entering his compartment. He opens a cabinet, looks in the mirror, and takes some pills. As he does this, the train moves forward.

Johnny-depp-as-cassetti-in-murder-on-the-orient-express.jpeg

Masterman later brings Ratchett his coffee as Ratchett is reading a threatening letter. As Masterman enters the compartment, Ratchett asks who wrote and delivered the letter, and Masterman says that he does not know before leaving. Ratchett ignores his coffee, instead finishing his glass of whiskey. Mrs. Hubbard then walks up to his compartment, and Ratchett tries to flirt with her, but she is disappointed by him and most men who try to flirt with her. Ratchett then ominously leans in close to her, possibly to give her a kiss, but turns around and re-enters his compartment, closing the door.

Ratchett is next seen in the dining car the next morning. He offers Poirot an apéritif, but Poirot declines, saying that he is to meet with Bouc, the Director of the Line. Ratchett, while smoking a cigarette, later sees Mary Debenham walk out after confronting the Austrian Professor of Engineering Gerhard Hardman on his dislike for Dr. Arbuthnot because he is a different race.

Ratchett later catches Poirot laughing while reading A Tale of Two Cities, and decides to join him. Bringing a Fragilité cake to the table, Ratchett and Poirot engage in conversation. Ratchett claims that he never sat so close to fame before, but then corrects himself, as he sat next to Ty Cobb - player for the Detroit Tigers - on a bus.

Ratchett says that Poirot is a strange man, and Poirot says that he is at an age where he knows what he likes and does not like, and knows that he is about to be part of a business discussion. Ratchett confirms this, saying that he would like to offer Poirot, the "avenger of the innocent", a job. Ratchett is an art dealer, though relatively new to it, dealing in Oriental relics, antiquities, carpets, Kashan silk scarves, and, more recently, rugs. Even though he has had beginner's luck, he has a made a few enemies out of his so-called "apprasers". He thinks that the Italians are after him because while he was in Milan, he sold them a set of Safavid carpets, making £29,200, but the customers rightfully believed that he had forged them, and want their money back with interest. Ratchett offers Poirot $10,000 a week for the job that he's hiring Poirot for: to guard him until he gets someplace safe.

Ratchett and Poirot engage in conversation

Poirot understands Ratchett's situation, but refuses the offer. Ratchett, trying to make his point clear, says that he's not the best guy born in the world by a long shot, and if he were to go to a world in the afterlife, he will face judgement, but is in no rush to do it. As he tells Poirot this, he slowly pulls out a Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammerless concealed inside a handkerchief, pointing it towards Poirot. Poirot asks if Ratchett is holding a gun on him, but Ratchett says that he is holding a gun on the world. Poirot turns the gun away, and once again declines the offer when Ratchett offers $15,000. When Ratchett mocks Poirot, saying that the money is not flashy enough to him, Poirot, detecting that Ratchett is a criminal, states that Ratchett is paying the price for selling fakes to gangsters, also adding, "I do not like your face." Ratchett asks if Poirot liked the cake, and Poirot says that the cake was excellent, and wishes Ratchett a pleasant afternoon before walking off.

Just after 10:00 that night, Ratchett calls MacQueen in to go over the accounts for the Milan sales. Since the contracts were in French, which he didn't speak, MacQueen translated them for him before returning to his own compartment.

As the train stops at Vinkovci Station, Ratchett menacingly watches MacQueen and Arbuthnot walking towards the train. Ratchett, fearing for his life, decids to stay alert, so he has Masterman bring him coffee, which the train's chef makes strong.

At around 10:40, Pilar Estravados accidentally opens Ratchett's door, looking for her own compartment. Apologetic, Pilar begins backing off, while Ratchett, caught while smoking a cigarette and writing, immediately rises to his feet and pulls out a gun, uttering, "Don't be sorry." Pilar slams the door closed and runs away to avoid getting shot by him.

As the train takes off into the mountains, Ratchett lies in bed, trying to go to sleep. Pierre hears a glass shattering, and runs to the door, trying to get it open. Ratchett responds in a whispered voice, "Ce n'est rien" (It was nothing).

The train later comes to a screeching halt and derails because of a sudden avalanche.

Ratchett dead

The next morning, Masterman tries to open the door to bring Ratchett his breakfast, but Ratchett does not respond. Poirot feels cold air flowing through the room and under the door, and tells Masterman to get Bouc and Arbuthnot. Poirot then breaks the door open using his cane as Masterman returns with the two men. Bouc is horrified by the sight: Ratchett's dead body lying in bed, with multiple stab wounds to the chest.

Arbuthnot determines that the wounds were inflicted by a long, straight-edged knife with a 2.3-inch blade, and that some of the wounds are shallow, while 3 are mortal; 2 of which break through bone belts and muscle.

Bouc begs for Poirot to solve the case as the Yugoslavian Police will pick a culprit at random, and hang or guillotine him whether they are right or wrong. They will most likely pick Arbuthnot because of the color of his skin or Biniamino Marquez because he is Latino and his last name is Marquez. Poirot, although trying to take a vacation from his cases, first corrects Bouc that the Slavs do not use the guillotine anymore, but nonetheless agrees to the case.

It's revealed that Ratchett was actually named John Cassetti. Cassetti was a Chicago-based mercenary working for the Mafia, and was famous for the kidnapping of Daisy Armstrong, the 3-year-old daughter of the renowned pilot John Armstrong and his wife Sonia.

2 years ago, on August 12, 1932, Cassetti went on his own to the Armstrong Family mansion in New Jersey, and climbed a ladder, entering through the window 60 feet off the ground. He then tripped on some blocks that were left on the ground, awakening the nursemaid Pilar Estravados, but she was quickly subdued when Ratchett slapped her in the face with a leather sap. He then lifted Daisy from her crib and fled, never to be seen again.

John Cassetti in 1932

When her parents woke up, Daisy was gone. Desperate, they paid the ransom demand of $100,000, and John Armstrong wrote to Hercule Poirot asking for help, but the police soon found Daisy's lifeless body in the forest after the ransom deadline was paid. Sonia Armstrong, pregnant at the time, collapsed and went into premature labor; neither of them survived. By the time Poirot recieved Armstrong's letter, it was too late; John Armstrong killed himself by shooting a gun through his forehead.

Eventually, Susanne Michel, the French maid with a weak alibi, was arrested under false accusation. After her trial ended with a guilty verdict, she committed suicide. It was later proven that she was innocent.

By the time evidence led to Cassetti, it was too late, as he had already fled the country long before the evidence led to him, and had successfully avoided prosecution altogether.

Cassetti changed his name to Edward Ratchett, and became an art collector, dealer, and forger living in Paris.

On January 7, 1934, while at an auction house in Riga, Latvia, Ratchett met Hector MacQueen. They were both bidding against each other, competing to purchase a set of Iznik carpets. MacQueen couldn't bet higher, so Ratchett won. Impressed by MacQueen's spunk, Ratchett hired MacQueen to be his secretary.

2 months later, in March 1934, Ratchett hired Edward Masterman to be his valet.

It is later revealed that MacQueen stole £1,200 from the receipts used in the Milan sale; the original total was £29,200. Since Ratchett knew he didn't spend the £1,200, he figures someone must have stolen it. Because of this affair, Ratchett had been planning to switch banks, and began looking at Swiss banks.

Masterman laced Ratchett's coffee with barbital, so that when he took it, he would try to stay awake, but feel tired at the same time.

When the passengers snuck into Ratchett's compartment by way of Mrs. Hubbard's, Cyrus Hardman covered Ratchett's mouth, awakening him but silencing him, as Hardman, MacQueen, Debenham, Estravados, Pierre Michel, Masterman, Princess Natalia Dragomiroff, Hildegarde Schmidt, Marquez, Arbuthnot, Count Andrenyi (filling in for Countess Andrenyi), and Hubbard all stabbed him to death.

Poirot then puts the passengers to the test: presenting Hardman's police revolver to the table, he states that if they wish to go free without punishment, then they should kill him because he can't lie. Hubbard, alias of Linda Arden, takes the gun and aims it at Poirot, but then puts it to her jaw and fires. The gun is revealed to be empty, so Arden lives.

Ratchett's body is carried out of the train at Brod Station.

Physical Description[edit | edit source]

In the novel, Ratchett is described as an old man between sixty and seventy years old, with a slightly bald head, a dome-shaped forehead, small, deep-set, crafty eyes, a very white set of false teeth, and a benevolent appearance. However, his gaze is described to have a ‘strange malevolence, and unnatural tensity’.

He wears fine clothes.

Widmark's Ratchett

  • In the 1974 movie, he has silver hair in a comb-over and receding hairline, grey-blue eyes, a prominent nose, and a weak chin.
    • His usual attire is similar to that of a 1930's gangster: a black fedora, a black overcoat, a dark grey pinstripe double-breasted suit jacket and vest, a white shirt, a multi-shaded grey tie, a white handkerchief, dark grey pinstripe trousers, and black oxford shoes.
    • In the opening kidnapping scene, even though he can barely be seen amongst the darkness, Ratchett wears an all-solid-black oufit: a black single-breasted jacket, a white shirt, a black tie, a black vest, black leather gloves, slim black pants, and black oxford shoes.
    • His unnamed partner wears the same outfit with the addition of a black fedora, and a belted double-breasted jacket in the place of a single-breasted jacket.
    • For his nighttime attire, Ratchett wears reading glasses, a burgundy velvet robe with his initials in gold embroidery, and golden Moiré silk pajamas.

Strauss's Ratchett

  • In the 2001 TV film, Ratchett has brown hair and blue eyes. The corneas on his eyes are symmetrically scarred from laser surgery, and he has a rattlesnake-shaped scar on his chest, a result of laser surgery removing the tattoo of a rattlesnake.
    • His Ratchett's usual attire is a grey single-breasted suit jacket, a black shirt, a black tie, a black t-shirt, a dark blue handkerchief in his left breast pocket, a brown belt with a gun holster around his left arm, a golden ring on his each of his ring-fingers, a silver-and-gold Rolex wristwatch on his left wrist, gold-link bracelet on the same wrist, a black belt, grey suit trousers, black socks, and black oxford shoes.
    • In his introductory scene, Ratchett wears a light tan track-jacket over a black t-shirt, a silver necklace, black suit trousers, and black oxford shoes.
    • In his first scenes on the train, Ratchett wears a black-and-white patterned button-down shirt, a silver necklace, black suit trousers, and black oxford shoes.
    • At the time of the kidnapping and murder, Cassetti was bald, near-sighted, and had a brown moustache, as well as a rattlesnake tattoo imprinted on his chest. For this, the American press quipped him "The Rattler". At the time, Cassetti wore glasses, an unzipped black leather motorcycle jacket, a partially-unbuttoned worn black button-down denim shirt with white buttons, black jeans, and black leather motorcyle boots.

Ratchett in the video game

  • In the 2006 video-game, Ratchett looks and dresses similarly to the 1974 version: a dark grey pinstripe suit, a white shirt, a diamond-patterened tie in various shades of grey, and black oxford shoes.
  • The only exception is the eye color. In the 1974 film, Ratchett's eyes are grey-blue, but in the 2006 video-game, Ratchett's eyes are grey-green.
    • For his nighttime attire, Ratchett wears a red-and-white-striped button-down shirt with a pocket on the right breast, and pants that match the shirt.
    • Poirot includes further descriptive details: a round face, pink cheeks, and fine clothes.

Jones' Ratchett

  • In the 2010 Poirot episode, Ratchett has light brown hair in a receding hairline, blue eyes, gnarled teeth, and a slight American Redneck hint to his voice.
    • His usual attire is a black vest, a white shirt, a black tie, black trousers, and black oxford shoes.
    • In another scene, he wears the exact same clothes, but with a black tuxedo jacket over the vest and shirt, and a black bow tie instead of the necktie.
    • The only other time he doesn't wear this costume is when he exits the hotel: In that scene, he wears a grey tuxedo jacket, a pale blue shirt, a red tie, a grey vest, grey trousers, and black oxford shoes.
    • This version of Ratchett has a tendency to call men "boy", almost like an American redneck.

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  • In the 2017 film, Ratchett is 55 years old, and has dark brown slicked-back coiffed hair, blue eyes, a dark brown pencil moustache, and a waxy appearance. He also has a few scars on his face, most noticably a hook-shaped scar through his right eyebrow, and another one near his mouth.
    • His usual attire is a brown fedora with a black band, a belted brown leather trench coat, a 4x1 grey faint pinstripe wool wide-peak lapel double-breasted 2-piece suit, a white silk point-collar shirt, a brown patterened necktie in an Onassis Knot, a checkered vest that matches his tie, and brown leather suit shoes.
    • In the monochrome kidnapping scene, Cassetti wears a flat cap, a black suit jacket, a white shirt, a black tie, black pants, and black leather oxford wingtip boots.
    • His nighttime attire is very similar to Biniamino Marquez's nighttime attire: a white-and-light-grey-striped button-down shirt with a grey collar, and matching pants.

Cassetti also owns different guns in different adaptations.

  • In the novel and video game, Cassetti's gun is a small .32 caliber automatic handgun. In the novel, it is presumed that his gun is a Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammerless.
    • The gun in the 2006 video game is modelled after a black Remington Model 95 double-barreled Derringer pocket pistol.
  • In the 1974 film, Cassetti's gun is a nickel-plated Colt Model 1908 Vest Pocket.
  • In the 2001 TV movie, Cassetti's gun is a Smith and Wesson Model 66 Combat Magnum Revolver with wood grip.
  • In the 2010 Poirot episode, Cassetti's gun is a black Beretta Model 1934.
  • In the script for the 2017 film, Cassetti's gun is a pearl-handled pistol.
  • In the 2017 film, Cassetti's gun is a black Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammerless.
    • This gun is later stolen by Doctor Arbuthnot, and he uses this gun to try and kill Poirot, but is apprehended by Bouc; the gun falls into his possession and is never seen again.

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • The character of Lanfranco Cassetti may have been based on Al Capone, a real-life Chicago Mafia boss who also made his wealth during Prohibition, and operated in the 1920s and early 1930s.
  • In both the 1974 film and the 2010 Poirot episode, Ratchett's breakfast or pick-me-up was an Amber Moon, a cocktail that was whiskey-based or vodka-based with tabasco and raw egg.
    • In this case, both adaptations had his Amber Moon vodka-based, with tabasco on the side.
    • In the 2017 film, Ratchett's pick-me-up was coffee, which according to the film, was his favorite drink. His breakfast was coffee, cream, butter, ice, and a croissant.
  • According to MacQueen in the 2017 film, Ratchett's favorite food was steak.
  • The only time Cassetti's getaway vehicle is shown during the infamous kidnapping scene is in the 1974 movie.
    • Cassetti's car is a 1933 Chrysler Royal Eight Limousine, assembled by Chrysler Kew Assembly in Kew, a suburb of Greater London. This car is light-yellow-colored with a dark brown hood and roof, chrome lights, dark brown running boards, a dark brown spare tire holder on the running boards, a black front-bumper license plate with golden lettering, and wire wheels with whitewall tires.
    • In addition, the Armstrongs' limousine - also only seen in the 1974 film - is a 1933 Packard Eight Sedan Limousine. This car is all-black with a chrome Packard-trademark Cormorant Swan hood ornament, chrome lights, a black Landau leather roof covering the back half of the car, black running boards, a black spare tire holder on the running boards, and whitewall tires with Packard clipper hubcaps.
  • Ratchett is known for not speaking any language other than English, but in the 2017 film, when Poirot walks to McQueen's compartment, he says to Poirot, "How you doing? Bonsoir." So this means that he also speaks French, though very little.
  • The only time you see Cassetti's defense lawyer is in the 2001 TV movie.
    • Although he is barely audible amongst Poirot's narration, Cassetti, during his interview by the press, directly addresses his attorney by his first name: Mike.
    • Amongst Poirot's narration, Cassetti says, "Okay, now Mike, my attorney, has told you, I couldn't have initiated the shooting raid, I had nothing to do with Armstrong Kidnapping, thank you very much! Very much."
    • Mike - Cassetti's lawyer - has black hair in a receding hairline, brown eyes, and a prominent nose. He wears an unbuttoned black suit jacket with a raised collar, a white shirt, a grey tie, black suit trousers, and black oxford shoes. He carries a suitcase.
  • In every version except the 1974 film, Cassetti murders Daisy Armstrong.
    • In the 1974 film, his unnamed colleague whom he later betrays is the one who murdered Daisy.
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