Evil Under the Sun (1982) Poster

User Reviews

Review this title
79 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
Peter Ustinov, Mediterranean sunshine, a dead body -- all this and Cole Porter too!
Graunch7 May 2002
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.
32 out of 32 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Agatha's novel comes to brilliant life.
BlackJack_B2 August 2002
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.
46 out of 48 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Pure pleasure
heedarmy20 January 2000
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.
16 out of 16 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Entertainment Under The Sun
Lechuguilla25 May 2006
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.
50 out of 56 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
I love Agatha Christie!
EmptyLeo22 April 1999
This movie was so good. It caused me to take my first trip to the bookstore. Evil Under the Sun was the first novel I ever read. I've read about 50 other Agatha Christie's books since then, Death on the Nile being the second, and hey Peter Ustinov played Poirot in that movie too! too cool. I loved him as Poirot. both movies got an 8/10 from me
12 out of 12 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Best Ustinov Poirot
hammerspanner15 January 2000
Warning: Spoilers
Worthwile for Maggie Smith and Diana Rigg although I wish the reviewer who commented that Jane Birken played Diana Riggs' step daughter had got their facts right after taking the time to write the review. She played the female accomplace of the murderer played by Nicholas Clay. It was also filmed on the Spanish Islands not the Greek Islands. Just had to put the record straight.
11 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
One of the best who done its
Cidla11 November 2000
Not only is this one of the best who done its, all of the characters depictions were excellent. I felt I was there interacting with them. Loved Cole Porter's score :-) But if he had been alive, he would have highly approved of it. I have the Laser of it, and if the DVD ever comes out I'll get it. I'll give it a 10 +, but there isn't any, so a 10 will have to do. I've named my black kitty Arlene, and my tiger kitty Daphne. By all means rent it or buy it; it's the greatest!
11 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Peter Ustinov IS Hercule Poirot!
JackStallion21 December 2004
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!

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.
47 out of 55 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
A delightful romp with wonderful characters
ToddTee1 May 2000
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!!
39 out of 45 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Good murder mystery
preppy-312 February 2007
Hercule Poirot (Peter Ustinov) is vacationing at a resort on a beautiful island. A very rich and evil woman (Diana Rigg) is murdered. The owner of the resort (Maggie Smith) hires Poirot to find the killer.

This was made because "Death on the Nile" was such a big hit. For some reason this bombed quickly at the box office. I can't see why--it's no classic but it's actually well-done on beautiful locations with a good cast. Ustinov is just perfect as Poirot and the rest of the big name cast (among them...Roddy McDowell, Sylvia Miles, James Mason) do well. Nicholas Clay especially stands out...and wears a VERY tight bathing suit through most of the movie. The script is well-written with some hysterically catty dialogue between Rigg and Smith. There's also some great Cole Porter songs on the soundtrack and the costumes are just breath-taking (especially on Rigg).

Not as good as "Death..." but fun and enjoyable. Worth catching.
10 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Breathtaking scenery and a great storyline!
Lo-Baby18 August 1999
This is one of the better film versions of an Agatha Christie novel. Diana Rigg left behind her Emma Peel character in this performance and showed some depth. Lots of plot twists and turns and beautiful scenery.

Even if you're not a Christie fan, rent it anyway!
10 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Great, Great, Great,
amurphy129 July 2003
What can I say, this is an excellent film, only equal to The Suchet Poirot Murder On the Links, it's the most enjoyable Agatha Christie That Ustinov has ever made!!!! 10/10 Stars!!!
9 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Ustinov is highly entertaining as Poirot
solar1218 October 2006
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.
23 out of 27 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Must see
1bilbo6 February 2005
This is a superb film – right through.

A group of wealthy performers, writers and producers gather for a holiday on a beautiful island hotel run by an ex-show girl played by Maggie Smith. Right from the arrival of the guests the sparks start to fly. The interplay between Maggie Smith and Diana Rigg is priceless and Maggie Smith is really funny throughout the entire film.

The entire cast is absolutely top notch and they all bring their own particular quality to this murder mystery. Of course there is a nasty bit of murder and our detective just happens to be around to solve the apparently unsolvable case, Ustinov has made character his own and will always be the definitive Piorot.

Throughout the film there is a dry wit which a delight and a very clever twist in the end. Not many films made this well nowadays.
12 out of 13 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Best Ustinov Poirot
cengelm5 October 2001
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 the sun.

9 / 10.
31 out of 38 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Absolutely terrific whodunit, by far one of the better Agatha Christies out there
TheLittleSongbird20 October 2009
Death On the Nile is definitely the best of the Peter Ustinov outings, with its sumptuous scenery and costumes, fine performances and an overall successful attempt to do justice to the book. Evil Under the Sun is not quite as good, it does start off a little slow and it does drag in places. But other than that, it is a hugely enjoyable film that is in my opinion one of the better Agatha Christies out there.

The scenery in this film is absolutely breathtaking as are the colourful costumes, captured perfectly by the magnificent cinematography. Arlena Marshall's dresses are amazing, and I admit when I first saw the movie I was like I want a dress like that. The soundtrack by Cole Porter is wonderful, and a real treat to the ears. One of the film's highlights was the song Arlena(marvellously played by Diana Rigg) sings, it somewhat reminded me of Marlene Dietrich.

The film also benefits from a very clever plot, that is definitely among Agatha Christie's best. Throughout, it is beautifully constructed, with some clever and not at all confusing subplots. The dialogue is very inspiring, sometimes flowery and at other times witty. My favourites were the bitching of Arlena and Daphne Castle, they were so funny and original, and by far one of the highlights of the film. Another highlight was the final solution, a truly ingenious one, one of my favourite denouncements of all time.

And what about the acting? Superb from all involved! Peter Ustinov while not looking exactly like Christie's dapper detective in the books seems to be enjoying himself enormously here and it really shows. As I've said already, I loved Diana Rigg as Arlena, quite frosty and very detestable in terms of character, but in terms of a truly talented actress like Rigg, it was a marvellous performance. Jane Birkin is great, as is Nicolas Clay, both of whom are under-appreciated actors and put everything into their characters. Other than Rigg, the other standout for me was Maggie Smith as Daphne. Then again, Smith never disappoints in anything she's in, and being one of my all-time favourite actresses, she gives one of her more understated performances here. James Mason was fine, though he could have done with more screen time.

All in all, one or two minor flaws, but overall an absolutely terrific film. And I do admit, I prefer it over the David Suchet version. 8.5/10 Bethany Cox
6 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Greed did not pay off for a very egocentric, evil couple.
rdpersen8 February 2000
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.
27 out of 37 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
A must see.
will-759 June 2001
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.
22 out of 31 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
"When All Will Be Revealed"
bkoganbing15 December 2006
In one of the only times I can recall, Hercule Poirot does not fall into a murder mystery in Evil Under the Sun. Instead he's hired by an insurance company that is suspicious about the death of a young girl whose body was found on the moors in Great Britain. A large insurance claim on her life was paid out and they suspect but can't prove.

Poirot's travels put him also in the employ of a grubby nouveau riche millionaire played by Colin Blakely who is seeking to recover a large jewel from a woman who jilted him. His journey continues on to an Aegean island where the former mistress of a Balkan king, Maggie Smith now runs an exclusive resort for the rich and famous.

The woman who jilted Blakely is a Gertrude Lawrence like musical comedy star played by Diana Rigg. As is the case with Agatha Christie mysteries she provides us with a hotel filled with people who would just love to do her in. So when she's done in, it seems strange that everyone seems to have an ironclad alibi as to their whereabouts when the deed was done.

When Poirot puts it all together and reveals all, it turns out he's solved two murders and gets the jewel back. All in a day's work for our intrepid Belgian sleuth.

This is my favorite of all the Peter Ustinov-Hercule Poirot screen adaptions. A lot of that is because the background music if you'll carefully listen is provided by Cole Porter. Watch the film and listen to the soundtrack and see how many of Cole Porter's classics you can identify. In fact we're let in on the joke when in a shot of the hotel register, you'll see the autograph of Cole Porter prominently displayed.

With really stunning scenery from Mallorca, ably substituting for the Aegean, Ustinov is aided by a great cast that also includes Sylvia Miles and James Mason. Everyone plays their part superbly and Agatha Christie fans worldwide will love this film.
7 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Pamsanalyst6 February 2005
Warning: Spoilers
With the relative success of Death on the Nile, studios decided to grab Ustinov again, assemble some of the same stock company {Maggie Smith, Jane Birkin] and take him to the Adriatic coast sometime in the 30s. It is a highly enjoyable mystery, though rather easy to solve as to method once we see the model of the island. It is also more economical than Nile, without the long prelude to murder that threatens to make us lose interest in the cardboard characters that surround the detective.

Ustinov will never be able to summon up the rage of Albert Finney in the finale of Orient, partly because we laugh with him at his foibles, not at him. He does not take himself as seriously as Finney, or David Suchet in the BBC Poirots, but he is great fun and is consistent. He would actually make a fine Miss Marple, as he snoops about and eavesdrops.

The director does more to restrain the scenery chewing that was the staple of Nile; this is not to criticize such acting. Cardboard characters deserve over the top acting.

There are a couple of points that make us wonder if the writer and director have lost their way. Maggie Smith encounters a dead rabbit; while some say this is symbolism, it has little place in this light story and is never explained. Then James Mason goes skulking about on a path, but we are told he was reading in the garden. Kind of reminds us that we never did know who killed Owen Taylor in The Big Sleep.
7 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Terrific fun - rather underrated
Iain-2155 April 2008
Warning: Spoilers
This was the second of Peter Ustinov's outings as Poirot. The series went a little downhill after this but 'Evil Under The Sun' remains glorious. More tongue in cheek than 'Death On The Nile' which preceded it, considerable changes are made to the source material. Instead of an island off the Devon coast we are in the Adriatic and only a few of the original hotel guests remain intact. Its all tremendous fun though with some wonderfully witty dialogue, fabulous costumes and a great soundtrack featuring the tunes of Cole Porter.

In my opinion there are no bad turns in this film but I do have a particular fondness for Maggie Smith and Diana Rigg. Sylvia Miles is superbly grotesque as Myra Gardiner and Dennis Quilley is dignified as the put upon Kenneth Marshall. Peter Ustinov is sometimes criticised for being nothing like Christie's description of her Belgian detective and this is true but he throws off the role with tremendous panache. Christie purists may prefer the David Suchet TV version of the story but it's not half as much fun as this.
4 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Worth seeing for Smith, Rigg and Cole Porter's music!
Steek11 November 1999
The nay-sayers are right that this is not the greatest movie adaptation of Agatha Christie (Murder on the Orient Express gets that honor) but it is one of the better. The lush photography and Cole Porter soundtrack alone make it worth seeing. Ustinov is a warmly funny Poirot and takes second place only to Albert Finney in "Express" The real show though, is in the over the top performances by Maggie Smith and Dianna Rigg. Both among the finest actresses Britain has to offer and both at the top of their form. The cat fights between them are amoung the best ever filmed. Rent it; you'll be glad you did.
6 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
The Sun is Shining, The Sky is Blue ... But Remember: Evil Under the Sun is Ustinov's Masterpiece
jdcarr22 October 1999
Yes, "EUTS" is Ustinov's best film, on an equal par with "Death on the Nile". While the plots are somewhat similar, (and some of the actors), the film is an excellent and high-spirited intermingling of murder, murder, bloody murder (actually no blood - the crime was strangulation of Diana Rigg's glamorous (what else?) Mrs. Arlena Marshall, the actress and vamp) and humour - Maggie Smith's Daphne Castle is brimming over the top with multiple solutions for the murder (her nut-cracker theory is best). The two leading ladies, Rigg and Smith, have excellent scenes together - and the music (Cole Porter) sets the scene exactly. Masterpiece!
6 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Evil Under the Sun
Coxer9916 April 1999
Fun adaptation of another Agatha Christie murder mystery with Ustinov doing another fine job as master sleuth Hercule Poirot. There is a fine supporting cast, a grand mystery and the magical tunes of Cole Porter to occupy and entertain.
17 out of 26 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Still as good today.
Paul Evans1 December 2015
Warning: Spoilers
It's one of those films I'd almost forgotten about after David Suchet's outing, but Ustinov's has a huge charm which can be overlooked no further.

The plot for some part is a little far fetched, but such is the quality of the writing and the mystery itself it doesn't matter in the slightest, for it to have worked the timings would have had to have been literally to the minute.

The characterisations are the strong point of the film. Ustinov made a brilliant debut in Death on the Nile, and he shows once again just how good he was in the role. Diana Rigg and Maggie Smith are wonderful in their respective roles in particular, both actually make their characters more interesting then they appear in the book, the interplay between the two is wonderful, so much fun. Nicholas Clay and Jane Birkin are fantastic also, her transformation is sensational, what a beauty!

It is a lavish looking film, the locations are sensational, and the costumes are superb, they really add a glamorous note to it, Rigg looks sensational in many scenes.

Overall 9/10 Great story, brilliantly acted, but the characters are just magical, entertaining!
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews