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Bisset Andrenyi 1974

Jacqueline Bisset as Countess Andrenyi in the 1974 film

Helena Maria Goldenberg[1] is one of the main protagonists of Murder on the Orient Express. She is the wife of the Hungarian Count Rudolph Andreyi and had the title Countess Elena Andrenyi.

Helena Goldenberg has been played on screen by various actresses, including Jacqueline Bisset, Amira Casar, Elena Satine and Lucy Boynton.

Biography Edit

During the events on board the Orient Express, Helena twenty years of age.[2] is the younger sister of Sonia Armstrong and the second daughter of Linda Arden. She had married her Rudolf Andreyi one year before the events on board the train.

Prior to her marriage, Helena, being in her teens, lived for some time with her elder sister who had married a British Army Colonel named John Armstrong. With Helena being significantly younger than her elder sister, Sonia's personal secretary Mary Debenham also served as her governess and superintended her studies. The nursemaid Susanne Michel, who was there to look after Sonia's daughter Daisy Armstrong also served as Helena's maid and looked after her clothes.

After the kidnap and murder of Daisy Armstrong, a gangster named Cassetti was arrested and put on trial for the crime but got off on a technicality because of his wealth and influence. Linda Arden, Daisy's grandmother, then gathered a group of interested parties for the purpose of avenging the crime and bringing the criminal to justice. Helena joined the group.

The planning took some years. Other groups members performed the preliminaries. Private investigator Cyrus Hardman located Cassetti, who had adopted the alias of Samuel Edward Ratchett. Thereafter, other members of the group managed to infiltrate Ratchett's staff. Edward Masterman, managed to gain employment as his valet and Hector MacQueen became his secretary.

The Orient ExpressEdit

Acting on information supplied by Hector Macqueen who had an insight into Ratchett's travelling schedules, Helena boarded the Orient Express together with other members of the group on the fateful journey. Her husband knew about the plan and insisted on coming along. During the trip Helena was in first class Compartment 12 while her husband was in Compartment 13.

During the night of Ratchett's murder, Helena had been asleep after having taken some trional which, according to her husband, she always took when travelling by train. She was therefore not involved in the stabbing. Her husband swore that she never left her compartment in night and Poirot was inclined to believe him, more so after he found a bottle of trional in her compartment.

After Ratchett's murder, Helena identified herself to Poirot as "Elena". She was travelling on her husband's passport. The "H" of her name there had been obscured by a spot of grease. Her husband explained later he had done it because Poirot had found a handkerchief with the initial "H" on it and he wanted to avoid suspicion being cast on his wife. He was also concerned that her link to the Armstrong family should remain undiscovered.

Portrayals Edit

Murder on the Orient Express (1974) Edit

In the 1974 film, Countess Andrenyi is played by Jacqueline Bisset.

During her interview with Poirot, she says that her maiden name is Grunwald, and that her family is of German extraction. Poirot later deduces that her maiden name is actually Greenwood, and that she is the younger sister of Sonia Armstrong. This is unlike the novel, where her maiden name is Goldenberg.

In the murder scene, her husband Count Andrenyi received the dagger from Greta Ohlsson, and handed it to her. She seemed hesitant to take the dagger, but eventually she and her husband stabbed Ratchett together, with Helena saying that it was for her sister and her niece. They were fifth to stab Ratchett, and then passed the dagger to Gino Foscarelli. This is different from the novel, where Poirot is impressed by the earnestness with which Count Andrenyi swears that his wife never left the compartment, and he concludes that she was the only one who did not take part in the stabbing. Instead, her husband took her place.

Murder on the Orient Express (2001) Edit

In the 2001 TV movie, Countess Andrenyi is renamed Elena von Strauss and is played by Amira Casar. Poirot says she is French but her passport gives her nationality as German and shows that she was born on March 17, 1971 in Berlin. Like in the original novel, there is a spot of grease covering the first letter of her first name, so that her name could just as well be Helena. Poirot comments that the von Strauss couple have connections with Monégasque royalty although it is not clear how he establishes this.

The von Strauss couple live in Monaco and are adventure travellers. They were in Turkey for sightseeing and plan to go rafting in Borneo later, and embark on an Everest expedition the following spring.

After Ratchett's murder, Poirot, using Arbuthnot's laptop, watches a video showing of Daisy Armstrong's birthday party. He notices that it is Elena who brings in the cake. When confronted, Elena confesses that she is Helena.

In this adaptation, Helena is in Ratchett's compartment when the stabbing takes place, unlike in the novel, where she was asleep in her own compartment, having taken trional. In this adaptation, she is shown not being able to go through with the stabbing. Her husband takes over from her as the third person to stab Ratchett, after Arbuthnot and MacQueen. Thereafter Nina Alvarado takes over from him.

In a voiceover at the end of the show, Poirot says that Helena and Phillip subsequently went on a Himalayan expedition and almost succeeded in scaling Everest, but had to give up because Phillip lost 2 toes to frostbite during the attempt.

Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express video game (2006) Edit

In the 2006 video game adaptation, the countess is voiced by Leigh-Allyn Baker.

According to her details on the joint passport held by her husband, her date of birth is 1 June 1914. Her full name is Elena Maria Andrenyi. This makes her age and name the same as in the book. However her maiden name is not given in this passport, unlike in the novel and the 1974 film, neither is there a grease spot which obscures the first letter "H". However her suitcase had her initials on it covered over with a label. When removed, the intials were revealed to be "H.M.K." (what the "K" stands for is not known).

Agatha Christie's Poirot: Murder on the Orient Express (2010) Edit

In the 2010 adaptation, the countess is played by Elena Satine.

As in the original novel, she is travelling on her husband's passport. There is also a grease spot perhaps obscuring the first letter of her first name, so that it reads "Elena". Her maiden name in this adaptation is Wassersteen and not Goldenberg. Earlier on, when Poirot asked Princess Dragomiroff for the real name of Linda Arden, she had said "Waterstone"--an English translation of Wassersteen. This is a parallel of the same plot device in the 1974 adaptation where the Princess says Linda Arden's maiden name is "Grunwald" for "Greenwood".

Murder on the Orient Express (2017) Edit

In this adaptation, the Andreyis resided in the Hungarian village of Jászboldogháza[3].


Physical Appearance Edit

In the novel, Countess Andrenyi is very beautiful. She has large, dark brown, almond-shaped eyes with black lashes, jet-black hair, pallor-pale skin, scarlet lips, and manicured hands with deep red nails. She is about 20 years old.

She wears a small chic black toque perched at an outrageous angle, a tight-fitting black coat, a white satin blouse, a necklace with a large emerald inset in platinum, and a black skirt that matches her coat.

  • In the 1974 film, Countess Andrenyi has dark brown hair, green eyes, and red lips.
    • She wears white pearl earrings, a grey silk dress with a tilted, wide shoulder-pad, a white necklace, and white high heels.
    • For the outside scenes, she wears the same costume, but with the addition of a silver satin-covered hat trimmed with feathers and overlaid with a veil, and a silk coat with thick, milk-white fur piping. The coat has a wide shawl collar, heavy vertical stripes, two white feathers at the front-middle, a front placket decorated in fur, and a diamond booch in the shape of a cross.
    • In some of the scenes on the train, she wears the white silk fur coat, but not the hat.
  • In the 2001 TV movie, Helena has dark brown hair and brown eyes.
    • Her main attire is a black turtleneck t-shirt, a silver wristwatch on her right wrist, a black knee-length skirt, transparent brown stockings, and black leather high heels.
    • For her other scenes on the train, she wears a scarlet button-down shirt, a black v-neck blouse, a golden cross necklace, and the same watch, skirt, stockings, and heels.
    • For the outside scenes, she wears an unzipped black leather jacket, the turtleneck t-shirt, black leather gloves, grey pants, and black hiking boots.
    • At Daisy Armstrong's birthday party, she wears a black-and-white cotton baseball shortsleeve t-shirt with "78" on the front, and black pants.
  • In the 2017 film, Countess Andrenyi has blonde hair, green eyes, and red lips.
    • She wears a black veil, a bakelite/galalith choker necklace, wrist bracelets, and an authentic 1930s black-and-gold print silk lamé gauze kimono over black silk pajamas.

Trivia Edit

  • According to her passport in the 2001 TV movie, Helena was born on March 17, 1971.
    • Also, instead of a Hungarian woman, Helena poses as a French woman.
  • In the 2017 film, her passport is shown in Hungarian, then French. The English translation for the words inside are:

"On behalf of His Majesty
Franz Joseph I.
Emperor of Austria, King of Hungary, Etc. Etc.
Aposotolic king of Hungary
Passport.
SZDM Number: A.382.060
Countess Elena Maria Andrenyi
for a Hungarian citizen"

  • This means that her passport was issued by Franz Joseph I, the Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary. However, Franz Joseph I died in 1916, 1 year after Countess Andrenyi's birth.
    • Also, the front of her passport is Hungarian and French, translated to "Kingdom of Hungary".

References Edit

  1. In Chapter 7 of Part 2, Countess Andrenyi says that her full name is Elena Maria Andrenyi.
  2. Part 2, chapter 7
  3. According to the script for the 2017 movie, Count and Countess Andrenyi both reside in Jászboldogháza.
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