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Of all the Agatha Christie movies that featured Peter Ustinov as Belgian sleuth Hercule Poirot, 1982's EVIL UNDER THE SUN ($25) is probably the most fun- if not the funniest of the bunch. There is plenty of sharp, witty dialogue strew about in EVIL UNDER THE SUN, which is something that the all-star cast sinks their teeth into with glee. Everyone in the film seems to be having such a good time, that one almost forgets that EVIL UNDER THE SUN is indeed a murder mystery.

The plot of EVIL UNDER THE SUN finds Poirot on holiday at a small isolated island resort. Many of the guests are on the flamboyant side, but none makes a bigger splash than noted stage actress Arlena Marshall (Diana Rigg), who arrives with her rich husband, and a none too cleverly concealed boyfriend in tow. Almost everyone on the island knows Arlena, and most of them have good reason for despising her- so it should come as no great shock when she turns up murdered. Of course, everyone has an airtight alibi to prove that they were nowhere near Arlena at the time of her death, but this doesn't stop Poirot from putting his "little gray cells" to work, so that he can unmask the killer. The delightful cast of EVIL UNDER THE SUN also features Maggie Smith, Roddy McDowall, Sylvia Miles, James Mason, Colin Blakely, Jane Birkin, Dennis Quilley, Nicholas Clay and Emily Hone.

Anchor Bay Entertainment offers EVIL UNDER THE SUN in a 1.78:1 wide screen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. The image is usually quite sharp and well defined, however there are some shots that have a somewhat softer, filtered look. Although there is occasional evidence of mild fading, the colors generally tend to be strongly saturated, especially the reds. Blues and greens also fare well in the outdoor photography, plus flesh tones remain pleasing under all lighting conditions. All of the colors are completely stable, without a hint of noise or bleeding. Blacks are pure and the level of shadow detail is very respectable. Whatever blemishes are present on the film element never call attention to themselves, however mild grain does creep into the image here and there. Digital compression artifacts are not a concern on this dual layer disc.

The Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack is without flaws and sound pleasant enough. Dialogue is fully intelligible and the actors’ voices always remain clear and distinct. There are no exaggerated high or lows on the soundtrack, but the sound effects remain reasonably realistic. The musical score is made up of various arrangements of Cole Porter tunes. None of the orchestrations stretch beyond the range of a pop standard, so the fidelity of the twenty-year-old recordings in really a non-issue.

Animation and music serve to enhance the interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a few extras. A featurette entitled The Making of Evil Under the Sun is included on the DVD. The featurette runs sixteen minutes, includes interviews with cast and crew, and was produced at the same time as the film itself. A theatrical trailer and cast biographies fill out the disc's extras.

If you like murder/mysteries, you'll find that EVIL UNDER THE SUN is a heck of a lot of fun. The DVD looks great and sounds just fine, making it a worthwhile addition to any Agatha Christie collection.


Evil Under the Sun


DVD reviews are Copyright 2001 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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