Category: Movie Review

Movie Review: Evil Under the Sun (1982)

In Evil Under the Sun, Hercule Poirot (Peter Ustinov) mixes business with pleasure. An insurance company calls Poirot in when the wealthy Sir Horace Blatt (Colin Blakely) requests to have a necklace insured for a large sum of money and the necklace turns out to be a paste copy.  Blatt tells Poirot that he gave the necklace to a woman he intended to marry named Arlena, but that she opted to marry someone else and returned the necklace. She’s staying at an Island resort where Poirot and Sir Horace can confront her.

So Poirot heads off to a beautiful island resort where he relaxes and watches the situation escalate as it becomes apparent that everyone at the resort from the owner on down has cause to hate Arlena (Diana Rigg), from the owner to her husband, to the wife of a man she’s having a very indiscrete affair with. About an hour into the movie, she is murdered–to the surprise of no one familiar with Agatha Christie stories– and it falls to Hercule Poirot to find the killer. However, Poirot pool of suspect begins to dwindle as it looks like everybody has an alibi.

Review:

First, let me take a moment to praise the cinematography. The result is truly beautiful and Evil Under the Sun does a great job of bringing this fantastic setting to life.

As to the mystery itself, Evil Under the Sun is solid. The Edgar-nominated movie delivers a tough puzzle for the viewers to solve (even though, it took a long time to get to the inevitable murder.) The mystery was well-paced as I kept wondering how Poirot was going to crack this one. The story delivers a classic payoff.

The supporting cast was superb. It wasn’t star-studded, but rather filled with competent character actors who made the story work. The best supporting performance came from Jane Birkin as the wife of the murder victim’s lover.

As for Poirot himself, this was my first time seeing Ustinov as Poirot and I thought that he was okay in the role. He certainly wasn’t as good as David Suchet, and was a little too comical for my liking, but his performance was servicable.

One final note for parents. The movie is rated PG, but this film was relased in 1982 prior to the establishment of the PG13 rating which would have better suited the film due to some adult content.

Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5.0

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Movie Review: Going My Way

I’d never heard of Going My Way until I was searching through my instant watch queue on Netflix, though I’d heard of its sequel, The Bells of St. Mary.

Going My Way stars Bing Crosby as Father Chuck O’Malley, a young priest from St. Louis who has been given the task of setting in order a troubled New York City parish on the verge of bankruptcy and with many of its youth involved in crime. Father O’Malley must do so without hurting the feelings of elderly priest Father Fitzgibbons (platyed beautifully by Barry Fitzgerald.)

While Crosby was one of the most talented singers and showmen of his generation, his performance as Father O’Malley was anything but showy. Father O’Malley comes off as a “right guy” who is humble and graceful. While technically, he’s been put “in charge” of the parish by the Bishop, he refuses to assert himself, but respects the work of Father Fitzgibbons.

Barry Fitzgerald was equally masterful with Father Fitzgibbons. His portrayal of Father Fitzgibbons is as a stubborn man set in his ways, but with a kind heart and dedication that has kept him at his parish for 45 years, seperated from his aging mother.

What makes the movie work is the chemistry between the two characters. In these type of films, it’s often tempting to play up a sense of rivalry between the old minister and the young one. Yet, Going My Way takes an entirely different tact, as the old man the young one grow to love and respect each other.

It’s a bit of a misnomer to call this film a musical, as the characters rarely sing in this two hour film. Crosby does sing a few times, and when he does, it’s powerful. Perhaps one of the most informative scenes was when Father O’Malley was advising a young singer who was gesturing as she sang. Father O’Malley criticized the gesturing and suggested that she needed to was to put  more emotion into her singing.

And that’s what made Crosby’s singing is the film so memorable. Whether, it was, the soft and mellow title song or the debut, “Swinging on a Star,” he delivered it with just the right emotion.

My favorite scene was the one in which Father O’Malley put Father Fitzgibbons to bed after the older priest to bed. They’d talked about their mothers and how Father Fitzgibbons hadn’t seen his 90 year old mother in 45 years. Father Fitzgibbons asked if O’Malley knew “Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ra” and Crosby sang it beautifully:

The film wasn’t perfect. At two hours, it could have been quite a bit shorter without some extraneous plot elements such as seeing the Metropolitan Opera perform one scene from Carmen, and the budding romance of the banker’s son. However, the latter subplot did provide one of the film’s best scenes.

However, these are very minor shortcomings in a great film, and the featured attraction is the warmth of Crosby and Fitzgerald to create a timeless classic.

Additional Information:

This film was featured on Screen Guild Theater in 1945 with Crosby and Fitzgerald reprising their starring roles.

Currently, it is available on Netflix Instant Watch for those who Netflix members. Click here for Netflix.

Also, it’s available on Amazon:

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