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This is the most under-appreciated Agatha Christie film in my opinion. The movie has a top grade cast (for the most part) including Peter Ustinov, Lauren Bacall, Piper Laurie & Hayley Mills. Mills and Bacall give the best supporting performances as an Archeologist and Member of Parliment respectively. The solution to the murder of evil mother Laurie isn't an easy one, but it all makes sense in the end. The plot moves along at a good pace, and features beautiful locations. If you want a good mystery, go and rent Appointment with Death!
Peter Ustinov's Hercule Poirot returns to it's big screen roots with lavish
travelogue scenery and a roster of legendary stars. Long time film star
Piper Laurie steals the film as Emily Boynton, a Cruela deVile style evil
stepmother, and former prison wardress. Every moment she is on screen is
pure delight as she marches around and belts out orders. She has had a
great second career in her elder years("Carrie," "Wrestling Ernest
Hemingway"). The film begins when her lawyer, Jefferson Cope (David Soul),
tells her that her recently deceased rich husband made up a second will that
split her inheritance with her grown children, a rather spoiled and naive
group of sniveling brats. She knows the lawyer to have a few skeletons in
his closet and forces him to burn the will, then announces she is taking her
brood on a vacation to the Holy Land. While on holiday she meets up with
Lady Westholme (Lauren Bacall.) Bacall is quite good as the
American-turned-British member of Parliment. If anyone could stand
toe-to-toe with Piper Laurie's over-the-top performance it would be Lauren
Bacall, but we see very little interaction between the two grand ladies of
cinema. An opportunity missed and for the most part just two women who
happen to be on the same tour. To fill out the cast we have Hayley Mills as
Lauren Bacall's assistant, John Gielgud underused as the governing legal
agent, Colonel Carbury, and a host of capable actors as the usual assembly
of suspects in the usual assembly of sub-plots, mostly red-hearings.
Ustinov perhaps does a little less sleuthing here than usual and is really
not much more than an excuse for the film to be made. In the first hour,
the detective overhears just about everything the audience hears merely by
the coincidence of having his chair in the right place at the right time.
"A gift" he tells one of the suspects. When such a fault in the script is
so obvious that the director feels he must give an explanation (a shoddy one
at that) to the audience, I suppose the movie moves more into the realm of
spoof than mystery. This film does have a lot more humor and entertainment
than the other films in the series. Whereas most of the Ustinov-Poirot
films tend to be a bit dry and long, "Appointment with Death" is quite
breezy and whisps us along a plot that has by now become way too familiar.
Without the humor and eccentric performances there would have been little
here to warrant a film. Like the 100th episode of "Murder She Wrote" it is
no longer important who did it, or who got killed. It's just a lot of fun
watching old pros ham it up.
Appointment with Death is a wonderful film for pure escapism. Piper Laurie is really fantastic as Emily Boynton. Of course Peter Ustinov is always a treat as Hercule Poirot. Sir John Gielgud is a treasure to watch and Lauren Bacall is incredibly good as Lady Westholme. This is a glamorous film with additional supporting cast such as Jenny Seagrove, the handsome John Terlesky, the beautiful Hayley Mills and Carrie Fisher. David Soul is passable as the Boynton family lawyer. The scenery is wonderful, the costumes beautiful and the story intriguing. It is hard to know who has done the deed. The much underrated Michael Craig also puts in an appearance. I wish there could be more appointments with such a talented cast.
Appointment with Death was the last theatrical release of that series
of Hercule Poirot mysteries. I'm sure Peter Ustinov probably could have
done others. I wouldn't be surprised if in fact the BBC Poirot series
starring David Suchet which we in America saw for many years may have
killed the more expensive budgeted big screen Poirot that Ustinov did
This particular mystery finds Hercule Poirot on holiday and in the company both on ship and later in British mandated Palestine in the mid Thirties of an American family headed by a tyrannical stepmother played by Piper Laurie. She has one grown daughter and three stepchildren one of whom is married. All live with her and the terms of her late husband's will give her complete control of the family fortune. The power of the purse keeps the whole family under her thumb. Laurie's come a long way since she was a matron in a women's prison.
Another woman along on the trip who's come along way is a character based on Lady Nancy Astor, an American born woman who married a title and now has a seat in Parliament played by Lauren Bacall. She's traveling with a companion played by Hailey Mills. Also along on the trip is David Soul, Laurie's family attorney and Jenny Seagrove as a young doctor.
On an excursion out in the desert Laurie turns up dead and the mystery is afoot. Of course Poirot through careful questioning and a gathering of the suspects eventually finds out who the real murderer is.
The film has of course an impressive cast which also includes John Gielgud as the local police inspector in Jerusalem. A young Arab boy also dies during the film, killed because he witnessed the murder and can identify the culprit. That particular act robs us of any sympathy we might have had for the perpetrator.
Appointment with Death also benefits from good photography, shot on location in both Israel and Italy with interiors done in London. All the Peter Ustinov Poirot films are of excellent quality and are a great introduction to the work Agatha Christie.
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!
Peter Ustinov investigates into the murder of a rich heir during a cruise with the children of his deceased husband. Peter Ustinov lends once more his mockery and his gentleness in acute Hercule Poirot in this pleasant adaptation of Agatha Christie's novel.
the story isnt as good as evil under the sun or death on the nile however it is interesting enough to watch.the sorely underused carrie fisher is good in this a small role for david soul who i met once in Hull about 1980.not a typical Michael Winner film though in fairness he has had that Death wish tag for too long.needless to say it isnt overlong thanks to tight editing from Arnold crust Winner himself.
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
Orient Express, or that laughable David Sachet!
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.
An avid fan of Agatha Christie, I enjoyed this film greatly. Particularly because of the quality of the cast and their impressive portrayal of the characters. Although David Suchet, in his series and films makes a very impressive Hercule Poirot, Peter Ustinov creates a far more real character and is a superb actor. Lauren Bacall, as always, impresses. Carrie Fisher excels and moves on from the Starwars era, to her advantage. Am I the only viewer to "fall in love with" Amber Bezer? Hayley Mills is also excellent, but I continually find it a bit difficult to not keep remembering her as Pollyanna and her other early successful parts. As usual in Christie movies, the reproduction of the period seems to be perfect, from the vehicles, the dress, realistic and appropriate sites and scenery, to the actor's portrayals is, in my opinion, superb.
Actually this was the last Agatha Christie movie that I saw so I compared with the others. The original story is not too exciting just the original all could done' story with many humor. But the place. The book is set in Jordania in the Petra which was mentioned once in the film but it was set in Jerusalem. It's a bit funny. So the book nearly has no connection with the film. Altought the movie is very enjoyable. Peter Ustinov gaves us a bit less of hes power but the others complete it. Piper Laurie gives us a perfect picture about the the evil-gently stepmother but alas, she had been killed. Lauren Bacall renewed her 18 older role greatly. (Orient express) and played the nasty Parliament-member greatly. From the others Hayley Mills and Sir John Gielgud are the only ones who are deserve to have a comment. They are quite good in their roles. The whole film was very good and all Agatha Christie fans have to watch it!
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