Evil Under the Sun (Blu-ray) (1982)

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Released 25-Oct-2017

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Mystery Featurette-Making Of-(14:39)
Interviews-Crew-Costume Designer Anthony Powell (7:48)
Interviews-Crew-Screenwriter Barry Sandler (7:51)
Interviews-Crew-Producer Richard Goodwin (6:19)
Gallery-Photo-Behind the Scenes / Costumes
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1982
Running Time 116:31
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Guy Hamilton
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Peter Ustinov
Jane Birkin
Colin Blakely
Nicholas Clay
James Mason
Roddy McDowall
Sylvia Miles
Denis Quilley
Diana Rigg
Maggie Smith
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $36.95 Music Cole Porter
John Lanchbery


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     Evil Under the Sun commences with the discovery of a murdered woman’s body on the Yorkshire moors. It then moves to London where world famous detective Hercule Poirot (Peter Ustinov) is asked by an insurance company to investigate a possible fraud involving a fake diamond. Poirot’s inquiries lead him to a small island in the Adriatic and the hotel owned and run by ex-stage dancer Daphne Castle (Maggie Smith). Also at the hotel is former stage star, gold-digger and all round obnoxious individual Ariena Marshall (Diana Rigg), travelling with her new husband Kenneth (Denis Quilley) and young stepdaughter Linda (Emily Hone). When Ariena is found murdered there are no shortage of suspects staying at the hotel who had reason to prefer her dead; theatre producers Odell and Myra Gardener (James Mason / Sylvia Miles) who face ruin when Ariena refuses to work with them, author Rex Brewster (Roddy McDowall) who has written a salacious biography of Ariena that she will not sign the waver on, mousey wife Christine (Jane Birkin), whose handsome husband Patrick (Nicolas Clay) seems to be having an affair with Ariena, and Sir Horace Blatt (Colin Blakely), the owner of the fake diamond. The problem for Poirot, however, is that everyone is accounted for when the murder took place.

     Evil Under the Sun is again adapted from a mystery crime novel by Agatha Christie by producers John Bradbourne and Richard Goodwin and follows a similar formula to Murder on the Orient Express and Death on the Nile utilising an all-star cast of nefarious characters isolated in an exotic location, this time a hotel on a small island.

     Evil Under the Sun is over 20 minutes shorter than Death on the Nile and is much more succinct in establishing the various characters who will be suspects in the murder. This is also Peter Ustinov’s second go at playing Poirot after Death on the Nile (I think he went on to play Poirot 6 times) and he is far more comfortable in the role, playing it with a deal of humour; indeed parts of the film are very funny, partly due to a fabulous performance by Maggie Smith. She appeared in Death on the Nile in a very downtrodden role, but here she is in her element as a larger than life ex-dancer and ex-mistress of a Balkan king who provided her with the funds to buy the hotel. Some of her b****y dialogue, especially her verbal sparring with the excellent Diana Rigg, is simply delicious. The really over the top performance, however, is by Roddy McDowell; one can decide for oneself if it is amusing or plain silly. The producers did hire some familiar faces from their earlier films; as well as Maggie Smith, Jane Birkin also appeared in Death on the Nile while both Denis Quilley and Colin Blakely had been in Murder on the Orient Express.

     The producers did, however, again change directors, for Evil Under the Sun hiring Guy Hamilton who directed four Bond films including Goldfinger (1964), and who incidentally lived on Mallorca where Evil Under the Sun was filmed. The costumes for Evil Under the Sun look stunning, again designed by Anthony Powell who had won an Oscar for his work on Death on the Nile, and the hotel set is opulent and incredibly detailed. The period feel is enhanced by using the familiar music of Cole Porter on the soundtrack, rather than an original score.

     By the time the producers made Evil Under the Sun their formula was fraying a bit. The cast was still good, although not quite to the all-star quality of the previous films, and the location certainly not as exotic or spectacular as Egypt or the snowclad mountains in the Balkans, although they did change the location from that in the book, which was set in Devon! Yet, Ustinov provides a deal of humour and Maggie Smith and Diana Rigg are delightful, with some delicious dialogue. The island location does look good and the plotting of Evil Under the Sun is tighter and more coherent than the previous films, making for pleasant entertainment.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Evil Under the Sun is presented in the original 1.85:1 theatrical ratio, in 1080p, using the MPEG-4 AVC code.

     This is advertised as a remastered print. Certainly marks and artefacts are absent, close-ups are crisp and the hotel lounge nicely detailed. The colours have a nice, natural look, with the blue of the sea bright, blacks and shadow detail are good, brightness and contrast consistent and skin tones natural.

     English subtitles for the hearing impaired are provided.

Video Ratings Summary
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Audio

     Audio is an English DTS-HD MA 2.0 stereo.

     This is mostly a film of dialogue, which is easy to hear and understand. Effects are limited to boat engines mostly while Cole Porter’s music is nice in lossless.

     There is obviously no surround or subwoofer use.

     I did not notice any hiss or distortion.

     Lip synchronisation was fine.

Audio Ratings Summary
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Audio Sync
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Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Making of (14:39)

     This is a vintage making of, produced I suspect in the early in the 1980s. It is in poor condition, with scratches, hairs, marks and soft washed out colours. It is shot on the set in Mallorca and includes behind the scenes footage and some film clips plus various cast and crew answering questions from an unseen narrator. None of those who comment are identified by a text screen but they include director Guy Hamilton and cast members Peter Ustinov, Diana Rigg, Maggie Smith, James Mason, Jane Birkin, Nicholas Clay and Roddy McDowall talking about the characters they play. Essentially a vintage EPK!

Interviews

     These interviews are fairly recent – some black and white behind the scenes photos and film clips punctuate the interviewee talking to an unseen questioner.

Costume Designer Anthony Powell (7:48)

     Powell is an amusing speaker as he talks about the brief he was given by director Guy Hamilton, designing the costumes for various members of the cast and his favourite costume.

Screenwriter Barry Sandler (7:51)

     Sandler explains how as an American he was brought in by the producers after he had written The Mirror Crack’d for them. He talks about the differences between the characters of Poirot and Miss Marple, and adapting the Christie book, including the change in location.

Producer Richard Goodwin (6:19)

     Goodwin is clearly not overly keen on this final Poirot film he and co-producer John Bradbourne made although he praises the script rivalry between Maggie Smith and Dianna Rigg and the Cole Porter music.

Stills Gallery

     Two sections of stills; they are silent and advance automatically

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     This release of Evil Under the Sun is identical technically to the Region B UK release although that includes 5 collectable cards of the costumes. There is currently no US Blu-ray version listed.

Summary

     Evil Under the Sun is not quite to the same standard as Murder on the Orient Express or Death on the Nile, but the film and the mystery is still fun, with Peter Ustinov playing with the character of Poirot and Maggie Smith being deliciously b****y; it is worth watching the film for her performance alone.

     The film looks fine on Blu-ray, the audio is good. The interviews are of value.

     The previous DVD release of the film was reviewed on this site here. It included the making of and the reviewer noted the excellent video presentation. However, for fans of old fashioned murder mysteries, the film, Agatha Christie, or the stars, an upgrade to HD is certainly warranted.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Wednesday, February 14, 2018
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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