Jean-Pierre Cassel as Pierre in the 1974 film

Pierre-Paul Michel[1] is one of the main characters in Murder on the Orient Express.

Pierre has been played on screen by various actors, including Jean-Pierre Cassel, Nicolas Chagrin, Denis Ménochet, and Marwan Kenzari.

Biography[edit | edit source]

Pierre Michel was the conductor on board the Orient Express train during the time the murder of Samuel Edward Ratchett took place. He was also the father of Susanne Michel, who would become the nursemaid of the Armstrong Family in America.

After the kidnap of Daisy Armstrong, Susanne was questioned by the police. She was upset and thought she was being held responsible and so committed suicide by throwing herself out of a window. The perpetrator Cassetti was arrested and tried but got off on a technicality because of his wealth and influence. Linda Arden then gathered a group of interested parties for the purpose of avenging the crime and bringing the criminal to justice. Pierre was brought into this group. Hector MacQueen, another member of the group, was secretary to Cassetti, who had assumed the name of Ratchett. MacQueen adjusted his employer's traveling schedule so that he would board the train when Pierre would be on duty as the conductor. The rest of the group also boarded at the same time.

Pierre aided Poirot in his investigation, mainly by fetching the passengers to interview. He did not reveal his relationship with Susanne but Poirot surmised this. He says this is the only way to explain his complicity with the rest in the killing of Cassetti.

Monsieur Bouc, a director of the Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits considered Michel a reliable man. He told Poirot that Michel, a Frenchman who lived near Calais, had been with the company for some 15 years.

Portrayals[edit | edit source]

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

The character is played by Jean-Pierre Cassel in the 1974 film. The portrayal is faithful to the original story. Here his full name is stated as Pierre-Paul Michel. He is depicted as somewhat of a polyglot as he is able to greet each passenger in the language of their nationality.

During the investigation, he states that his wife died of grief after the death of their only daughter from scarlet fever. However, Poirot deduces that his daughter was Paulette Michel, Mrs Armstrong's maid, who committed suicide after coming under suspicion of being involved in the kidnapping of Daisy Armstrong.

In the murder scene, he receives the dagger from Cyrus Hardman, and stabs Ratchett for his daughter. He is the twelfth person to stab Ratchett.

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

In the 2001 film, Pierre Michel is played by Nicholas Chagrin.

M. Bouc considers him a good man, and mentions that this job is all Michel has, as his wife died a few years prior, and his daughter was also dead. Poirot later surmises that Michel was the father of the nursemaid of Daisy Armstrong who committed suicide by hanging herself after being arrested for the kidnap and murder of the child. The name Susanne Michel is not given.

In a voiceover at the end of the show, Poirot says that Michel continued working on the Orient Express after the events.

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

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

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

Physical Appearance[edit | edit source]

In the novel, Pierre is a tall, sallow man of middle age, and wears a brown conductor's uniform.

  • In the 1974 film, Pierre has grey hair, grey-blue eyes, circles under his eyes, and a slight moustache.
    • As a Wagon Lits conductor, he wears a Wagon Lits conductor's uniform: a black Wagon Lits uniform cap with a golden Wagon-Lits symbol, a black wool Nehru blazer with scarlet piping and big gold buttons, black trousers with red trim, and black oxfords. On his collar is the number 143 in gold lettering.
  • In the 2001 TV movie, Pierre has grey hair, green eyes, and circles under his eyes.
    • He wears a white low-cut tuxedo jacket with blue peaked lapels, blue cuffs, a grey name tag, gold buttons, and gold railway epaulettes. He also wears a white wing-collar shirt, a black bow tie, white gloves, black trousers with a silver stripe running down the side, and black oxford shoes.
  • In the 2017 film, Pierre has tan skin, dark brown hair, and dark brown eyes.
    • He wears the exact same uniform in the 1974 film: a black wool Nehru blazer with scarlet piping and big gold buttons, black trousers with red trim, and black cap-toe oxford boots. The only difference is the number on the collar, which in this version is 7343.
    • In addition to this costume, he also wears a black Simplon-Orient Express uniform cap with navy blue on the bottom half and a golden Wagon Lits insignia, black leather gloves, and a black wool knee-length overcoat with short lapels with the same gold insignias as on the hat, big gold buttons, and red trim.

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • Pierre's uniform numbers change between versions:
    • In the 1974 film, the number on his collar is 143.
    • In the 2017 film, the number on his collar is 7343.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. In the 1974 film, Poirot states Pierre's full name as Pierre-Paul Michel. The canonical version in the book is Pierre Michel.
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