Plot: What’s it about?
Hercule Poirot (Peter Ustinov) finds himself hired by an insurance company, to investigate the truth behind an important diamond they were to insure, until it was revealed as a fake. He soon learns the stone was purchased for Arleen Marshall (Diana Rigg), a stage star who is on a tropical vacation, to celebrate her honeymoon. So Poirot ventures to the island as well, where he discovers everyone seems to dislike Arleen for various reasons, which is he able to understand. But when Arleen is found strangled to death, he knows someone on the island is responsible and it won’t be an easy task to discover who is behind the murder. As stated, it seems like every island visitor had some reason to hate Arleen, whether she backed out of an appearance, having an affair with someone’s husband, or just being her loathsome self. As he wades through the evidence and looks deeper into each person’s motivations, Poirot finds himself engulfed in more twists and turns than ever before. He knows most of the people wanted Arleen dead, but now he must unravel who went through with their wishes.
Another Agatha Christie release from Anchor Bay, Evil Under The Sun is a welcome addition to the mystery section of my film collection. This one is loaded with suspense and dark humor, which combine to make one heck of a good murder mystery flick. I think Evil Under The Sun is an above average genre piece, but not without flaws, so I wouldn’t call this a classic either. But I know it will be a part of my personal collection, as I love the storyline and characters, as well as the lush production design. I admit the premise is better than the way it unfolds, but the cast is excellent and they ensure it never slips too much. Some of the players here include Peter Ustinov, James Mason, Diana Rigg, Maggie Smith, and Roddy McDowall, all of whom seem in fine form here. I do think Rigg and Smith steal this one in the end, but I was pleased with all the performances here. Some slow spots do surface, but between the acting, suspense, and gorgeous photography, I don’t think genre fans will be bored much with this one. I recommend this to all those interested, as Anchor Bay has issued a very nice treatment for Evil Under The Sun.
I like the cast in this picture a lot, but I think Diana Rigg manages to be the most memorable, even if her character is less than pristine. I think some performers delight in taking on bitch roles and Rigg seems to here, as she milks every ounce of bad attitude from her character. This works very well though, as she comes off as very abrasive, but also gifted and of course, beautiful as well. Her stunning good looks go a long way with this role, as she plays a movie star with a massive sense of self importance, which means beauty is a given and Rigg has that and then some. Rigg, who was knighted in 1994, was never a massive star after The Avengers, but she did continue to turn in good performances in theater and film projects. Other films with Rigg include A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Julius Caesar, A Good Man In Africa, The Hospital, and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. The cast here also includes James Mason (Salem’s Lot, Heaven Can Wait), Roddy McDowall (Cleopatra, Planet of the Apes), Maggie Smith (The First Wives Club, Hook), Colin Blakely (The Big Sleep, Murder on the Orient Express), and Peter Ustinov (Spartacus, We’re No Angels).
Video: How does it look?
Evil Under The Sun is presented in a 1.77:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. I saw some slight grain here and a hint of wear to the source print, but in the end, this is a terrific visual treatment. The colors seem bright and lush, with no bleeds or such, while flesh tones look natural and consistent at all times. I was impressed with the contrast also, which has well balanced black levels and that ensures shadow depth and detail level remain solid throughout. The image looks a little dated at times, but that is to be expected to a certain level, I think. A few problems do surface, but I found this to be a very nice transfer despite those flaws.
Audio: How does it sound?
This one has some superb music, from the Cole Porter soundtrack to a few humorous songs from Diana Rigg’s character, so the mono option seems a little limited at times. But I think it all comes across well enough, as no signs of harshness or distortion are present, at least that I could detect. I do think the music would come off better in a surround track, but in truth I think the mono is more than adequate most of the time. The sound effects are presented in fine form, even if not that powerful, but the material never demands much more than basic treatment here. No issues with the dialogue either, as vocals seem crisp enough and always balanced, so you never have to fiddle with the volume to hear it all.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes some talent files and the film’s theatrical trailer, but also houses a nice behind the scenes featurette, The Making of Evil Under The Sun. This sixteen minute piece includes some interviews and cool on the set footage, but is too brief if you ask me. Still, this footage can’t be seen elsewhere, so I am pleased it was included on this disc.