Guy Hamilton (director)
23 October 2017 (released)
30 October 2017
This 1982 British mystery is the second Agatha Christie adaptation directed by Guy Hamilton and Peter Ustinov reprises his role as Belgian master detective Hercule Poirot.
The story begins on the Yorkshire Moors where a woman has been found strangled and we know that this seemingly unconnected prologue holds a clue, if not the clue, to solving the puzzle. Change of scenery and we now find ourselves on an exotic island in the Mediterranean where hotel owner Daphne Castle (Maggie Smith) strives to please and entertain her various guests including Arlena Marshall (Diana Rigg), the spoilt and bitchy former mistress of Sir Horace Blatt (Colin Blakely) who in turn is meeting with Poirot regarding matters of a diamond (which may or may not be a fake). Other guests include beefcake Patrick Redfern (Nicholas Clay) with whom Arlena has an affair, Arlena’s long suffering husband Kenneth (Dennis Quilley) and his daughter Linda (Emily Hone ) who hates her step-mum. Shy wallflower Christine (Jane Birkin) is married to hunky Redfern and when Arlena is eventually found strangled on a beach (hurray!) the culprits seem obvious enough but of course things are slightly more complicated, after all, 117 minutes of running time need to be filled and it’s nearly 50 minutes into the film before the first murder is committed. By now, viewers of these four releases should be familiar with the usual Christie stock characters: the bluff northern businessman, an old bitch and her possibly lesbian secretary, an acidic (aren't they usually acidic, darling) homosexual writer, a handsome young gigolo who is usually poor and having an affair with a rich dame, a nervous and shy put upon maid, and so forth…
What is perhaps the most astonishing thing about these overtly starry, lacklustre and costly affairs is that Anthony Shaffer is credited with the screenplay for the two Ustinov vehicles. Shaffer (who wrote a few clever crime novels with twin brother Peter in the early 50's) was responsible for that brilliant stage play SLEUTH, perhaps written as a semi-pastiche and an exercise to put the old crime novelists where they belong.
Blue-ray once again features assorted bonus material.