Evil Under the Sun (1982 film)
|Evil Under the Sun|
Original film poster
|Directed by||Guy Hamilton|
|Produced by||John Brabourne
Richard B. Goodwin
|Written by||Anthony Shaffer
Agatha Christie (novel)
|Music by||Cole Porter|
|Editing by||Richard Marden|
|Release dates||5 March 1982|
|Running time||117 minutes|
||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (November 2012)|
In the prologue, a hiker reports finding a dead woman on the Yorkshire moors to local police, who identify the strangulation victim as Alice Ruber.
Belgian detective Hercule Poirot (Peter Ustinov) is asked to check out a blue-hued diamond belonging to Sir Horace Blatt (Colin Blakely), a millionaire industrialist. Poirot informs Blatt the jewel is fake. After an affair, Blatt paid US$50,000 for the gift to his fling, now on holiday at an exclusive island resort. Poirot agrees to confront her, and enjoy a holiday of his own, at the former summer palace of the reigning King of Tyrania, now owned by Daphne Castle (Maggie Smith).
- Glamorous actress Arlena Stuart Marshall (Diana Rigg);
- Kenneth Marshall (Denis Quilley), Arlena's husband;
- Linda Marshall (Emily Hone), Kenneth's teenage daughter from an earlier marriage;
- Rex Brewster (Roddy McDowall), a writer and theatre critic (with the airs and pomposity of Noël Coward);
- Odell (James Mason) and Myra Gardener (Sylvia Miles), New York City theatrical producers;
- and Patrick (Nicholas Clay) and Christine Redfern (Jane Birkin), a dashing, handsome young man and his mousy wife.
Arlena emotionally abuses her stepdaughter Linda and flirts with Patrick. Everyone feels sorry for his meek wife Christine, there only because Arlena invited him. Ken turns to his old friend Daphne, who in turn reviles the way that Arlena treats both Ken and Linda. Arlena has caused the Gardeners financial problems by walking out of a major play, and refusing another. Brewster has already spent advanced royalties from his tell-all biography of Arlena.
Early one morning, Arlena takes a paddle-boat alone to Ladder Bay. In search, Patrick brings Myra, and spies a body motionless on the beach. Patrick approaches closer, and announces that Arlena has been strangled. Sir Horace Blatt arrives on his yacht to identify Arlena as his lover and thief.
Kenneth was in his room, typing a reply to his morning mail, heard but not seen by Daphne. Poirot reads both letters and assents. Christine left sketching with Linda in Gull Cove at 11:55 for 12:30 tennis match. Upon hearing the routine noon cannon -- which figures into the storyline -- from the mainland, she waved from the cliff top to Linda swimming below, confirmed by Linda.
Sir Horace argued loudly with Arlena at Ladder Bay, still alive 11:30 according to his yacht crew. She kept the diamond, promising an explanation that evening. Poirot finds the jewel nearby in a grotto. Daphne, atop the cliffs, saw the argument, then chaired a staff meeting at the hotel. Patrick left at 11:30 with Myra, seeing the Blatt yacht coming, and hearing the noon cannon.
Rex Brewster, on pedalo, met Linda entering Gull Cove at 12:00, which she denies until pressured. He reports a bottle flung from the top of a cliff nearly hit him. Odell was seen reading by Daphne and her staff. He claims low water pressure hindered his 12:15 wash before tennis, but nobody admits to bathing at such a time. That night, puzzled by denials of bottle-throwing and bathing, Poirot consults both a previous report to the insurance company that hired him, and the hotel register.
Assembling the suspects together, Poirot lists the main clues which lead to accusing Christine: a bathing cap, bath, bottle, island geography, noon cannon, and resemblance of sunbathers from a distance.
Christine knocked out Arlena and hid her in the nearby grotto. Patrick strangled the helpless Arlena later. Christine posed as Arlena with self-tanning lotion, Arlena's swimsuit and large red hat, to be mis-identified by Patrick. But in the grotto, Poirot smelled Arlena's perfume and found the diamond.
Christine set Linda's watch twenty minutes fast, suggested a swim cap to muffle the noon cannon, and corrected the watch afterward. If Christine had vertigo, she could not have waved from the edge of the cliff. She both tossed out the lotion bottle and bathed off her tan.
Poirot has no proof until he sets a trap for Patrick. He suspects Patrick gave Arlena a paste jewel before, and killed her to protect the theft.
On leaving the hotel, Christine no longer pretends to be a downtrodden spouse. Patrick pays by cheque, signing the "R" in "Redfern" exactly as he did when he wrote the name "Felix Ruber", husband of the prologue's Yorkshire moor victim, on an insurance form, claiming he was observed smoking in a non-smoking train compartment at the time of the Yorkshire murder. Patrick had earlier heard an opera aria by Giuseppe Verdi, and translated the composer name from Italian to "Joe Green", triggering Poirot to remember that "Felix Ruber" is Latin for "Red Fern". Poirot knows photos from British police will show Patrick to be grieving husband Felix.
Lastly, Patrick puts a pipe in his mouth that has never been lit during his stay. When Poirot empties the pipe bowl to reveal the diamond, Patrick punches him. While the Redferns are sent back to the mainland and police, the other guests mock from Blatt's yacht. Poirot, recovering, learns he will be decorated by the King of Tyrania.
The movie was announced to follow the success of Murder on the Orient Express (1974) but ended up taking several years to be made.
The screenplay was written by Anthony Shaffer (who had worked on previous Christie films) and an uncredited Barry Sandler. The adaptation stayed fairly close within the plotlines of Christie's work, but truncated scenes for time constraints, removed minor characters and added certain humorous elements that were not present in the novel. Additionally, the novel is set in Devon, but the film is set on an Adriatic island in the fictional kingdom of "Tyrania" (based on Albania). The character line-up is also slightly different. Whereas the characters of Rosamund Darnley and Mrs. Castle are merged, the characters of Major Barry and Reverend Stephen Lane are omitted, and the female character of Emily Brewster is now a man named Rex Brewster, played by Roddy McDowall.
Ustinov was making his second film appearance as Hercule Poirot, having previously played the Belgian detective in Death on the Nile (1978), with Maggie Smith and Jane Birkin in that cast as well. Denis Quilley and Colin Blakely had appeared in the earlier Brabourne-produced Murder on the Orient Express, with Albert Finney in the starring role. Guy Hamilton had previously directed another Agatha Christie story, The Mirror Crack'd, in 1980.
The film was shot at Lee International Studios in Wembley, London, and on location in Majorca, Spain. The actual island used was Sa Dragonera, but only for aerial shots. The locations used were the remote Cala Blanca ( ) as Ladder Bay, and offshore at Sant Elm ( ) for the South of France, (Sir Horace's boat). Sa Dragonera can be seen in the background from the boat. Cala d'en Monjo ( ) was used for Daphne's Cove and Hotel. (The hotel was a private estate owned by a German, but was subsequently bought by Majorca Council and demolished to its foundations, which can still be seen today). Gull Cove was a cove on the Formentor Peninsula (Cala en Feliu) ( ). The other hotel exterior shots were filmed at the Raixa Estate ( ) north of Palma. Finally Poirot boards his boat to the Island from Deiá. The locations were well stitched together to give the appearance of a few locations near each other on a small island, when in reality they are spread across Majorca. It made full use of its location to adequately convey the intricacies of Christie's plot, in which the hotel guests all appear to be at different parts of the island at the time of the murder.
The scenes of the finding of the murdered hiker on moors at the beginning of the film were shot in the Yorkshire Dales, England, with the exterior of the Police Station being the former Literary Institute in Muker, Swaledale.
- Boost for studios The Guardian (1959-2003) [London (UK)] 09 July 1975: 5.
- "IMDb Message Boards: Evil Under the Sun (1981)". IMDb. 6 February 2008. Retrieved 30 March 2009.