A while back I wrote about the series of shows starring David Suchet as Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot. I said then that all of the actors in those shows portraying Christie’s characters “‘became’ the characters they portrayed….” I still believe that Suchet’s portrayal of the little Belgian detective (who was Agatha Christie’s most popular detective) is definitive, and I might say the “last word.”
However, I recently watched the 1982 version of Agatha Christie’s Evil Under the Sun in which Peter Ustinov played Poirot, and I must say I thoroughly enjoyed the acting and the movie – I was quite pleasantly surprised. I guess I was especially surprised because I remembered having seen Ustinov’s Poirot in other movies (he played Poirot a total of six times between 1978 and 1986) and, although I remember enjoying the movies, I didn’t remember his Poirot as completely hitting the mark. Now I think he does a perfect job. Ustinov is able to give Hercule a certain (dare I say it!) normalcy of sorts, and also plays Hercule with a twinkle in his eye. I truly enjoyed him in this movie.
Maybe it was something about this production – Agatha Christie’s Evil Under the Sun – that caused me to see Ustinov’s Poirot in a different and better light. The story takes place in a fictional island off the coast of Albania. The movie is set in a beautiful location (it was actually filmed on location in Spain’s Majorca) and has a high quality cast – Maggie Smith, James Mason, Roddy McDowall and Diana Rigg (among others) each performing splendidly in the idyllic setting of a hotel/villa overlooking the sea.
The film is filled with gorgeous costumes – beautiful colors surround the wonderful acting by this veteran cast. It just leaps off the screen that the actors were having a good time together. To cap it all off, the use of Cole Porter songs as (mostly) background music was a brilliant stroke. The setting, the cast, the costumes, the music, the period, and of course Agatha Christie’s classic story beautifully told make for a great couple of hours of movie watching.
P.S. Agatha Christie’s Evil Under the Sun is available on Netflix.