Recovering from a sudden collapse, Poirot finds little comfort in doctor's orders confining him to a strict regimen at an island health resort with Captain Hastings. However, better medicine is to be found in the murder of another guest, a famous film actress, and a long list of suspects. Written by
Mark Cabot Robinson
The hotel at Burgh Island, Bigbury-on-Sea, where this episode was filmed, is the one where Agatha Christie wrote the book "Evil Under the Sun". See more »
During the flashback of Hastings reading the telegram received by Arlena Stuart, he says "Send the money now or you will lose a great deal", but the word "now" does not appear in the typed telegram shown on screen. See more »
[while talking about the possible reasons for Arlena Stuart entering the cave]
But then the question becomes why did Arlena Stuart enter the cave?
Perhaps she was hiding from someone.
Hastings... Once again you come up with an explanation that makes everything clear.
Chief Inspector Japp:
Not to me it doesn't.
You mean she was afraid of someone?
I mean, Hastings, that there is evil on this island. And the murder that took place here was the work of a mind that was brilliant. But there is one thing the killer did not ...
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Hercule Poirot (David Suchet) suffers a collapse while dining out with Chief Inspector Japp (Philip Jackson) and Captain Hastings (Hugh Fraser). Poirot is rushed into hospital where he is told that his weight may have lead to a problem with his heart thus causing the collapse. In order to recover and to lose some weight, Poirot accompanied by Hastings visits a health farm on "Burgh Island", which is situated on the Devon Coast. The setting is ideal and the weather is as fine as one could wish, but wherever Poirot goes there is usually a crime of some sort. And there is - a murder! This time the victim is the flirtatious heiress Arlena Stewart (Louise Delamere) who is found strangled on the beach. As usual Poirot has several suspects to investigate including Christine Redfern (Tamzin Malleson), the wife of journalist Patrick Redfern (Michael Higgs), whom was flirting with Arlena in front of Christine much to her upset. Then there's Arlena's 17-year-old son Lionel Marshall (Russell Tovey) whom resented his step mother's flirtations with other men as did her husband Kenneth Marshall (David Mallinson). But there are other strange guests at the resort including Major Barry (Ian Thompson) who is less than friendly towards Poirot and Hastings warning them to leave as the island isn't the safest place to be but refuses to explain why. Nobody it seems can be ruled out as the possible killer...
EVIL UNDER THE SUN was previously filmed in 1982 as a big-budget all star spectacular starring Peter Ustinov as Poirot. However, this remake by ITV is easily the definitive version of Agatha Christie's classic mystery thriller. First of all it reverts back to the original setting of the book on the Devon coast whereas the Ustinov version was relocated to a lavish Adriatic island and as a result the sense of foreboding English menace of Christie's works was lost and matters were not helped by the casting of big name stars who were cast on the basis of their celebrity status rather than on their suitability to Christie's characters and the whole thing had the air of a star-studded charity matinée. In this new version, the entire cast suit their parts down to the ground. Michael Higgs (Eddie Santini in ITV's "The Bill") is excellent as the womanising yet quick tempered journalist Patrick Redfern and Tamzin Malleson is good as his wife Christine, whom has to put up with her husband's obvious flirtations with Arlena. Louise Delamere is fine as the ill-fated Arlena Stewart and we can sympathise with her character as she was naive in that she had no idea that her wealth coupled with her flirtatious nature could ever lead to her demise. There isn't a single miscast part in the entire film (as is usual with this series) and David Suchet is definitely the best actor to have ever played Poirot as he really does capture all of the character's eccentricities with great conviction and above all, he really is made for the part while Hugh Fraser as Hastings and Philip Jackson as Japp are equally outstanding as both Poirot's colleagues and closest friends. As with the best films there is a good chemistry between them. For example, Japp can't adjust to Poirot's eccentric lifestyle and is always peeved when he thinks that he's got an open and shut case and Poirot always finds that Japp's suspects are innocent beyond doubt. Yet at the same time they are extremely close friends and it is rare to find this sort of chemistry between the leads in most of today's films and television shows. Brian Farnham's direction is spot on, the settings are first class with immaculate attention to the period detail of the mid-1930's. It would be interesting to see what this creative team would do with Murder On the Orient Express.
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