Hildegarde Schmidt is one of the main characters in Murder on the Orient Express.
Schmidt has been played on screen by various actress, including Rachel Roberts, Susanne Lothar, and Olivia Colman.
- 1 Biography
- 2 Portrayals
- 3 Physical AppearanceDuring
- 4 Research notes
- 5 References
Biography[edit | edit source]
At the time of the events in the book, Hildegarde Schmidt was lady's maid to Princess Dragomiroff; her family had come from an estate of the Princess' late husband in Germany, and she had been with the Princess for fifteen years, meaning 1920.
Schmidt was employed as a cook in the Armstrong household at the time of the kidnapping of Daisy Armstrong. She did not reveal this to Poirot at first, but Poirot deduced it from a comment that she had made about her ladies saying that she was a good cook.
After the kidnap and murder of Daisy Armstrong, the perpetrator, a gangster named Cassetti, was arrested and tried, but got off on a technicality because of his wealth and influence. Linda Arden gathered a group of interested parties for the purpose of avenging the crime and bringing the criminal to justice. Schmidt was part of this group, and boarded the Orient Express with the rest of the group, serving as the maid of the Princess.
Throughout the trip, Schmidt massages the Princess because she has reumatism, and also reads a Goethe poem to her.
Portrayals[edit | edit source]
Murder on the Orient Express (1974)[edit | edit source]
In the 1974 film, Schmidt is played by Rachel Roberts.
The portrayal of Schmidt in this adaptation is faithful to the original novel.
Unlike in the other versions, Schmidt is introduced with the Armstrong kidnapping.
On the morning of April 17, 1930, Lanfranco Cassetti, a Chicago mob boss, sneaks into Edenfield and kidnaps Daisy Armstrong. Schmidt, who is upstairs, witnesses Cassetti getting away, and his accomplice knock out the butler Edward Beddoes; Schmidt screams over what she just witnessed.
Like in the novel, she massages the Princess and reads to her. In the film, the poem by Goethe is revealed to be "Kennst du das Land". She also tells Poirot that she is a good friend of Paulette Michel. She gave a photo of her to him, although this was not mentioned in the novel.
When Poirot interviews her, she leads him into her compartment, where she retrieves her suitcase to show Poirot a photo of Paulette. When she opens the suitcase, she is horrified to find the conductor's uniform that Poirot was searching for. Although it was found in her suitcase, Poirot does not suspect her, instead flattering her on her cooking skills, to which she says, "All my ladies have said so", accidentally giving Poirot a clue.
In the murder scene, Schmidt receives the dagger from Gino Foscarelli, She is the 7th person to stab Ratchett, calling him a "Schweinhund" (offensive German word for coward). She then hands the dagger to her mistress, Princess Dragomiroff.
Murder on the Orient Express (2001)[edit | edit source]
The 2001 TV film had a smaller cast and did not feature Hildegarde Schmidt.
Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express (2006)[edit | edit source]
Schmidt's portrayal in the game is largely faithful to the original.
According to her passport, she was born on June 30, 1891 in Germany. Her occupation was stated as maid. She normally resided in St. Petersburg. She said that was because she was attending to Princess Dragomiroff. In this adaptation, she read Bleak House by Charles Dickens to the Princess.
Agatha Christie's Poirot: Murder on the Orient Express (2010)[edit | edit source]
In the 2010 adaptation, Schmidt is played by Susanne Lothar. Similar to the novel, she massages Princess Dragomiroff, and reads to her. In this adaptation, she said that she read Goethe to the Princess.
When Poirot interviews her, he shows her a handkerchief with the initial H on it, which had been found in Ratchett's compartment. He asks her if the handkerchief belongs to her mistress. Schmidt says that it does not. She says that Princess Dragomiroff's name is Natalia, and that the handkerchief is her style, but not her initial.
She also tells Poirot that she had worked at a property adjacent to the Armstrong family's house, and that was how she had met Princess Dragomiroff.
Similar to the novel and the 1974 adaptation, Poirot asks if she is a good cook, and she says that all her ladies have said so.
Schmidt also tells Poirot that on the night of the murder, she saw a person in a red kimono in the corridor. She said that it was a small, dark man, who had a weak voice, like a woman.
Poirot later deduces that Schmidt was employed as a cook in the Armstrong household. He also finds a photograph of Schmidt and the Armstrong family's maid, Francoise.
In the reconstruction of the murder scene during the denouement, Schmidt is the fifth person to stab Ratchett. She receives the knife from Greta Ohlsson, stabs Ratchett, and then hands the knife to Antonio Foscarelli.
Murder on the Orient Express (2017)[edit | edit source]
In the 2017 film, Schmidt is portrayed by Olivia Colman.
In the script, Schmidt's place of birth is given as Dusseldorf, Germany.
Physical AppearanceDuring[edit | edit source]
In the novel, Schmidt is a middle-aged woman with a broad, expressionless face. She is placid and respectable, but not particularly intelligent.
She dresses in black.
- In the 2017 film, Schmidt has brown hair in a receding hairline, and hazel eyes.
- Her usual attire is a green felt cloche hat, gold earrings, a black lightweight cardigan with a pointed collar and black buttons, a white button-down shirt, a white lace cravat with a jewel insert, and a black dress.