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In a time when people consider the likes of Vin Diesel, Jack Black, and
various three name actors as underated actors, people should realize what a
brilliant talent Sir Peter Ustinov is. Ustinov, a two-time Academy Award
winner, has done it all, whether it would be Kubrick films, children's
programs, teleplays, feature films: you name it, he's done it. He also plays
the definitive Hercule Poirot, the Agatha Christie creation.
Evil Under The Sun is done almost like a play, but a good play. Poirot is vacationing at a posh resort as the fee for helping a millionaire find out who stole his expensive diamond. Poirot meets up with plenty of the usual types that would be at these places in the mid-30's, including an ex-actress named Arlena Marshall (Diana Rigg) who is pretty much hated by everyone. As in all cases with murder mysteries, Mrs. Marshall is murdered, and Poirot uses his abilities to solve the crime.
This movie was great. It drew me in because Ustinov and the all-star cast work brilliantly together to make the film a joy. The acting and the story are superb. Also, despite the fact that it's an 80's movie, you won't see any of the trappings of that decade. Hey, any film with an English-speaking Jane Birkin is a must watch for me. I don't know if it's available on DVD, but I'm sure A&E or some other similar channel will air it. Recommended.
With its humor, great scenery, stylized period clothes, wonderful
music, complex whodunit puzzle, and deliciously hammy acting from Peter
Ustinov, James Mason, Sylvia Miles, Diana Rigg, and Maggie Smith, "Evil
Under The Sun" is an absolute delight.
There are a couple of different ways to watch this film. You can focus on the murder mystery story. It's not one of Agatha Christie's best, but it's good enough to invest a couple of hours to try and solve. As with other whodunits, the plot here is wildly improbable, with some rather unlikely coincidences in timing.
Alternately, you can focus on the cinematic goodies that make this film such a pleasant diversion. The Mediterranean scenery is gorgeous, with towering cliffs that rise from a sparkling blue sea. The 1930's clothes and production design are opulent and lavish. Men's formal attire, women's colorful dresses and flamboyant hats, and the showy jewelry that only the idle rich could afford, are all quaint by today's fashion standards. The island resort is cozy and expensive looking, with elegant furniture, and balconies and windows that overlook the sea. Throw in lots of 1930's music by Cole Porter, especially "You're The Top", and you've got a relaxing, enjoyable cinematic experience that's pleasing both to the eyes and the ears.
Arguably, the best elements of this film are the acting and the amusingly flowery dialogue. All the actors ham it up, in grand camp style. Performances may not be realistic. But they sure are lots of fun. I liked Ustinov's word pronunciations: "You remember 'zee' false diamond ... on 'zee' beach"; "Incidentally, I accept your 'hallie-by'"; "If you would care to confide in me, I should be most 'honn-erd'".
The bitching between vain Arlena Marshall (Diana Rigg), a prima donna actress, and the resort's hostess, Daphne Castle (Maggie Smith) is also amusing and fun. At an opulent cocktail party, guests mingle. Then, in dramatic style, Arlena, elegantly dressed, makes a glamorously staged entrance, and vainly confesses: "Oh my, I'm the 'laust' to arrive". To which hostess Daphne, with hors d'oeuvre tray in hand, walks over and greets Arlena with a sly smile: "Have a sausage, dear."
"Evil Under The Sun" is pure diversionary entertainment. There's no profound message. Nor are there any deep, subtle themes on the human condition that viewers can later ponder. The film is shallow, effervescent, animated ... fluff. But it is very high quality fluff.
I love Peter Ustinov as Hercule Poirot. Forget all those other phonies
who've tried to fill his shoes! Including that ridiculous Murder on the
His sly, lovable demeanor rivals any of the great actors playing detectives- Peter Falk as Columbo, etc. He has a wonderful way of gaining the confidence and trust of each of his suspects, while probing them for information. You never really know who he suspects, and that's the fun of the mystery. He guides you through the maze like true detective.
I have seen each of his delicious portrayals as the great, Belgian detective several times, and they just get better with age.
Peter Ustinov as Hercule Poirot is at his best in this movie that is worth the time for the soundtrack of Cole Porter classics or the magnificent cinematography alone. But the performances by Maggie Smith, Roddy McDowall, James Mason and others shouldn't be overlooked either. This is not what you'd call a classic film by any stretch of the imagination, but if you love a feast for the eyes and ears and enjoy quirky characters and Agatha Christie plots don't miss this one. If you've seen it before, see it again!!
Peter Ustinov recreates the role of Poirot, following the wonderful Death On
The Nile. This is not the story as Agatha Christie wrote it, but here we
have a rare example of the movie being better than the book. In fact it
would be more accurate to say that here we have a murder mystery based on an
idea by Miss Christie. We are presented with is a cast of characters, a
murder victim, and just about everyone has a motive. Poirot of course,
deduces who did it. The sun in question, under which this evil takes place,
shines down on a privately owned island in the Mediterranean, giving us a
warm and exotic location.
There isn't one bad performance among the cast, several of whom have appeared before in at least one other Poirot story. Maggie Smith and Jane Birkin in Evil Under The Sun; Dennis Quilley and Colin Blakely in Murder On The Orient Express. Diana Rigg and Maggie Smith almost steal the show as two women who smile sweetly at each other as they spit venom! But every bit as good are Blakely, Quilley, Mason, McDowall and the rest. And while all this is going on, the soundtrack is solid gold Cole Porter, which has been orchestrated perfectly to fit the story.
This movie is pure fun. Make yourself comfortable, suspend disbelief and allow yourself to be transported to another era and location for a couple of hours of enjoyment.
Many people blame Ustinov for not being authentic enough to the Agatha
Christi novel but I think that the artistic licence worked well with
him. Out of all 6 Ustinov=Poirot films this is the one I like most. One
of the reasons is that it is shot at location on the beautiful Mallorca
island of Spain and not in L.A.(as 3 of the others). The overall cast
is also the best of the series. In the dubbed German version Peter
Ustinov dubbed himself which gives his character the foreign touch of
Mr. Poirot. One of the best and the prettiest whodunit I have seen so
far. If you think that a mysterious plot can develop only in fog and
rain then this one isn't the right one for you. The Evil is here under
9 / 10.
Peter Ustinov is an absolute joy to behold in the role of Hercule Poirot. He played Poirot in three theatrical films: Death On the Nile, Evil Under the Sun, and Appointment With Death. He also played Poirot in three TV movies: Thirteen At Dinner, Murder in Three Acts, and Dead Man's Folly. It's always a delight to spend time with Ustinov's Poirot. He's so much fun! The three Poirot TV movies starring Ustinov are now available in a three DVD set. I've had a great time watching these with friends and family and all of Ustinov's Poirot movies are worth watching and re-watching. My deep affection for Ustinov's Poirot grows with each viewing. He's brilliant and each of his Poirot movies are fantastic fun.
Certainly one of the most cinematographically beautiful films of the '80s, this robust murder mystery keeps you guessing up to the very end. Magnificent scenery, wonderful costumes, and a brisk plot make this a film one that you will want to see again...and again.
Agatha Christie's novels may not be intellectually stimulating but they are perfect light reading and this delightful film recaptures that quality. Slickly directed by Hamilton and well-played by all the cast, there is a striking and surprising opening on the rainswept Yorkshire moors before we are whisked off to sun-drenched Majorca. The plot twist is one of Christie's most cunning devices, which she re-used on several occasions. And of course, as everyone else has commented, the music is sublime.
This is a first rate film.
Rarely are so many top actors seen together in one production.
What the director did was to take an Agatha Christy murder mystery and sparkle it with humour and dry wit. Maggie Smith is absolutely priceless and her bitching with Diana Rigg is reminiscent of Wilde`s importance of being Earnest. Each of the actors look as though they had a terrific time throughout the production as they camp up the roles but still manage to keep the serious side of the plot going.
A must see.
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