Sat 21 Sep 2013
EVIL UNDER THE SUN. Universal, 1982. Peter Ustinov (Hercule Poirot), Colin Blakely, Jane Birkin, Nicholas Clay, Maggie Smith, Roddy McDowall, Sylvia Miles, James Mason, Denis Quilley, Diana Rigg. Based on the novel by Agatha Chrsitie. Director: Guy Hamilton.
In a recent issue of the Times Literary Supplement, Julian Symons complained mightily about the betrayal of the Christie novel on which this is based. Chris Steinbrunner, in the July 1982 EQMM, recognized the tinkering with the novel but thought the result was splendid.
I haven’t read the novel, but, apart from competent performances by good actors — of whom the most amusing are Peter Ustinov, Maggie Smith, and Diana Rigg (whose archness is, however, beginning to wear thin) — good tunes by Cole Porter attractively orchestrated by John Lanchbery, and handsome location filming on Majorca, there is no reason to pay more than a bargain matinee admission for this film.
It is too long, the narrative sags intermittently as the camera doodles across the landscape and sets, and there is the curse of a campy performance by Roddy MacDowell as a critic who is probably modeled on the insufferable Rex Reed.
This might warm you if there’s a blinding snowstorm outside, but this is television fare dressed up as a big screen offering.