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Agatha Christie Mysteries

Peter Ustinov , James Mason , Guy Hamilton , John Guillermin    PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)   DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 49.94
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Death on the Nile
Following Albert Finney's quirky and compelling performance as Agatha Christie's Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot, in 1974's Murder on the Orient Express, Peter Ustinov capably took over the role in this 1978 adaptation of Christie's river-bound whodunit. While on a pleasure cruise along the Nile with a taciturn companion (David Niven), Poirot slips into action following the murder of a much-despised heiress (Lois Chiles). There's no shortage of suspects... until, that is, they also start dying off, obfuscating the investigation by suggesting that several killers may be at work. With a disciplined screenplay by Anthony Shaffer, the film is solid enough and is graced immeasurably by a glittery cast including Bette Davis, Maggie Smith, Mia Farrow, Olivia Hussey, Jack Warden, and Angela Lansbury. Directed with customary efficiency by John Guillermin (King Kong, The Towering Inferno). --Tom Keogh

Evil Under the Sun
Mostly for Poirot completists and admirers of then-trendy, all-star ensemble casts from the 1970s and early '80s, Evil Under the Sun finds Peter Ustinov in his second outing as Agatha Christie's famous Belgian detective (three years after 1978's Death on the Nile). As the title promises, the action this time takes place on an Adriatic island (though Christie fans will surely balk at the switch from the novel's setting on the English coast), where a famous stage star (Diana Rigg) is murdered, and the list of likely suspects is unusually high. The parade of legendary performers--Roddy McDowall, James Mason, Sylvia Miles, Maggie Smith, Jane Birkin--plus Ustinov's energetic performance keep things hopping. But Anthony Shaffer's lazy screenplay and director Guy Hamilton's superficial approach nudge everything (action, characters, tone) toward campy, near-parody, with bitchy sniping, tacky costumes, and an obligatory soundtrack of Cole Porter tunes. It's only in the last lap that the film transcends such obviousness and finds its way back to the glories of detective fiction. --Tom Keogh

The Mirror Crack'd
Angela Lansbury does the honors as Agatha Christie's determined sleuth, Miss Marple, in this adaptation of Christie's novel. A washed-up movie star (Elizabeth Taylor) is attempting to make a comeback but is driven to distraction by a mysterious event from her past. Also problematic for Taylor's struggling actress is a series of murders occurring with clockwork regularity in the quiet, 1950s English village where a film is being produced--killings that are all somehow connected to her. Despite the British backdrop, most of the suspects, including Rock Hudson, Kim Novak, and Tony Curtis, are American in this 1980 feature directed by Guy Hamilton (Evil Under the Sun). (At least Miss Marple's nephew, the redoubtable Inspector Craddock, is played by Edward Fox.) The bad news: this is a curiously flat, monotonous film, with a mystery hook that, sad to say, is among Christie's more familiar and predictable. Hamilton doesn't demand much of his largely ornamental cast, and they don't volunteer much to fill the void. Still, fans of Miss Marple and Christie, especially those with a burning hunger to see every film or television program based on the books, will want to check it out. --Tom Keogh


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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice set, worth the price April 23 2004
By A Customer
Format:DVD
I really loved all the Agatha Christie movies from the late 70's and early 80's. Death on the Nile and Evil Under the Sun are top notch. Both DVDs are worth the price alone for this set. Each DVD comes with extras, which is sort of amazing considering the age of these movies. In Death and Evil, they have brief interviews with most cast members about how they view their character, the hallmarks of each character, and whether they actually like the character. These are on-set interviews. There is a mini documentary about how the steamer from Death was found, and how it was recreated in the studio and how they dealt with moonlight scenes and the river look. It was great. There was a whole discussion about how the island was selected for Evil. There are a few interviews with Peter Ustinov as well. No deleted scenes or alternative endings, but great extras otherwise. Each comes with a theatrical trailer as well.
Death on the Nile is one I can watch over and over. It boast a great cast, a great script, and good action. It is very funny also. Evil Under the Sun is almost as good, it is funnier but there's not as much action, only one corpse. Both have lovely scenery and are truly good mysteries. I love Ustinov as the Belgian sleuth.
The Mirror Crack'd is the relative dud in this series. It was made around the same time as the others by the same people, so I see why it's included here, and it was also an all-star cast, but the story is rather dull and plodding. Little action, some decent humor, but it's not something you'd care to watch more than once or twice. It is more interesting to watch just to see a middle aged Elizabeth Taylor act with a slightly pre-AIDS Rock Hudson with a still young-looking Kim Novak.
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By Picasso
Format:DVD
It is only a waste of money, i tell you Because:
one of the movies is with miss Marple and not very well
this is my ratings:
DEATH ON THE NILE: 4,5/5 Points
horror: 3/5
intellegence: 4/5
humour: 2/5
EVIL UNDER SUN: 4/5 Points
horror: 1/5
intelligence: 4/5
humour: 4/5

THE MIRROR CRACKED: 0 POINTS
horror: 1/5
intelligence: 1/5
humour: 4/5
my advice to you is NOT to follow the series of miss Marple
but enjoy the two other films with Hercule Poirot.
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5.0 out of 5 stars death =5 / evil = 5 / crack'd = waste of space Sept. 4 2003
By bernie TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:DVD
[Death]
I have never seen such a reptile in a first class cabin
This is a good adaptation from the book. After watching "Evil under the Sun" ASIN: B000059LGF and "Appointment with Death" ASIN: 0790741318 you naturally think of Peter Ustinov as Hercule Poirot. The whole movie is packed with great actors, yet even thought you recognize them they do not distract from the characters that they play.
I thought that it was a nice touch when the kids along the shore mooned Mrs. Van Schuyler (Bette Davis) as kids would do everywhere.
Simon (Simon MacCorkindale) and his new bride Linnet (Lois Chiles) are being perused by Jacqueline De Bellefort (Mia Farrow) the girl he jilted. Once onboard a boat down the Nile bodies are dropping like flies. Everyone is a suspect. Everybody could have done it. And yet nobody could have done it. Only Hercule Poirot can figure this out. Naturally Hercule Poirot is in the right place at the right time to hear everything and extract the truth.
[Evil]
Hercule Poirot shows proper swimming techniques
Peter Ustinov as Hercule Poirot is challenged to locate a missing jewel. To do this he must go to a small island. Guess who has a tendency to get seasick? He requests his fee in guineas (a guinea is equivalent of 21 shillings.)
Naturally someone/s is unexplainably dispatched. Of course the island is loaded with the usual suspects. Everyone has a motive and an alibi. By this time you have completely forgotten how the movie started.
Speaking about the movie, they pulled out all the stops with expensive locations, costumes, and actors. And Cole Porter tossed in for ambiance.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Death Cracked Under The Sun! June 28 2003
Format:DVD
As far as Death on the Nile is concerned, I think it is all in all a good film. Good acting, good sets, grand revelation etc. =7/10
Evil Under The Sun is definitely better, it keeps you glued to the TV. =8/10
The Mirror Crack'd is also alive. However, she is not the ideal Ms. Marple, even though she is a brilliant actress. Besides, Hercule Poirot is far more interesting than Ms. Marple!=6/10
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  15 reviews
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Shame on Producers and Directors! Sept. 25 2007
By Patrick W. Crabtree - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I'm going to quickly cite some of my qualifications for rating these 3 films because it's relevant to what I have to say: I'm a HUGE Christie fan -- I've read every book/play (some 2 or 3 times) that she wrote (over 80 in all), her Mary Westmacott pseudonym stuff, her tome of an autobiography (not a very good or honest work, BTW!), and all the films and TV productions of Christie mysteries that are available to date.

Now, I will begin by noting that, for me, there are essentially 3 facets to evaluating a "Christie film" -- 1. Was it a good book to begin with? -- some are excellent, some are pretty lame, 2. How closely did the screenwriter adhere to the original work?, and, 3. Did the acting come off as "genuine" or was it hokey? (Christie stories, in particular, always manifest the dreaded potential to come off badly in the hands of an unskilled director). For example, to give you a measuring stick, the best Christie film ever is: Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express

A REVISION! Here is yet another brilliant Christie film! (see my review):

Ten Little Indians / Desyat' Negrityat

This set of three DVDs are, in the aggregate, "good films," worth the price -- unfortunately, given that they were obviously high-budget films, they COULD have all been spectacular, but that simply did not happen. I'll take them from best to worst.

"Evil Under the Sun" is the star of the three. Like "Murder on the Orient Express" (which is not in this set), it's chock-full of big names: Peter Ustinov (as Poirot), James Mason, Roddy Macdowall, Colin Blakely, and others. It takes place on a resort island, an actress is murdered on a remote beach, and Poirot has to unmask the murderer at the conclusion -- standard Poirot formula. If Ustinov does not exactly fit the profile of the book Poirot, he certainly makes up for it in a fine performance. All performances are a bit overplayed but it still comes off nicely -- it's in letterbox and the cinematography is spectacular. For me, it just makes the 5-star rating that I gave it. I definitely recommend it to all viewers.

The second film in the set is "Death on the Nile," which was one of Christie's finest mysteries ever; however, this movie has a few problems, the first being that the director clearly depended upon all the big stars to simply "carry" the film. Included are Peter Ustinov (as Poirot), Bette Davis, David Niven, Angela Lansbury, Mia Farrow, George Kennedy, Jack Warden, and others. The film was produced in 1978 and all these actors were pretty much well past their primes. Again, Ustinov pulls off a super performance and I especially liked Mia Farrow too. The great David Niven was okay but the remainder pretty much stunk in their roles. Angela Lansbury, as a drunken has-been writer of fiction, was simply terrible. The story itself revolves around a honeymoon couple's (the bride is RICH!) boat tour (bulging with enemies of the bride) up the Nile River where the bride is ultimately murdered, a bullet to the head. There is also a second murder, I won't say who as that would be a spoiler. Again, Poirot has to expose the culprit at the end. The film is in letterbox format and the cinematography is magnificent. I should also say that this is not a boring film -- the activity and scenery will keep Christie fans interested throughout. Had the movie people cast fewer big names and focused a lot more on telling the story in a serious manner, this would have been an easy 5 -- I reluctantly give it a 4 and definitely recommend it to all Christie fans. Other viewers might only make it halfway through the film.

The third DVD is "The Mirror Crack'd," another pretty good Christie book -- and, again, we are presented with an overage of big names.... and I mean BIG! Angela Lansbury, Elizabeth Taylor, Kim Novak, Rock Hudson, Tony Curtis and Edward Fox, the latter giving a VERY fine performance, maybe even "saving" the film for me in the second half. The story: A frumpy local woman is murdered (poisoned) as she attends a high-end theatrical party with hundreds present... but was she the intended victim? This time, Miss Marple (Christie's top female snooper), of course, reveals all at the conclusion. I must sadly report that Angela Lansbury played Miss Marple, deplorably, and it's equally sad that the screenwriters departed significantly from Chistie's rendering of the favorite lady amateur detective's profile. Lansbury comes off as very assertive, not humble at all, and even puffs away at a non-filtered coffin nail near the end of the flick, an act that would have appalled Christie's Miss Marple. I'm a huge Elizabeth Taylor fan and she conveyed her character quite well, as expected -- unfortunately, this film was shot in 1980 and Liz was a lumbering side of Hereford beef, sporting 2 1/2 chins -- I was much saddened by this has-been appearance. Hudson, who played her husband, was similarly worn-looking with very bad make-up. Throughout the movie, he looked as if he'd been on a week-long bender. At one point, in a sort of love scene, he's lying on the bed, face up, and Taylor launches herself on to him -- you could almost hear the air hiss out of poor guy and old Rock additionally didn't seem to know what to do with his arms and hands as they didn't encircle her all that effectively. Then, the camera angle switches to Taylor's face, scrunched up on Hudson's shoulder, and it takes on a gargoyle-ish essence -- the editors should have caught this but, like the rest of the movie, you get the idea that this one was all about "yielding product," and nothing about creating art. The entire film is like this -- a "has-been actors' struggle" I would call it. Fox plays the Scotland Yard Inspector, (and loyal nephew to Lansbury/Marple), and, again, he saves the film from being a complete fizzle. Poor Tony Curtis looked as if he'd been run through a tree shredder, with very bad, scruffy-looking, (and very little) hair. Christie fans will like this film okay but I can't recommend it to anyone else. Positive aspects include the letterbox format and very nice cinematography. To conclude this one, I give it a 3 on the low end.

So there you have it.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As good as excellent and better than brilliant. May 5 2006
By Jacques COULARDEAU - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
This only concerns "Death on the Nile".

This blockbusting film adapted from Agatha Christie's novel is the very archetype and acme of her detective stories, at least those using the services of the Belgian detective Hercule Poirot from Brussels. She builds up a closed set of people who are all concerned by the murder that is committed in a closed environment. They all have some personal interest to commit this crime, hence a motive, and none of them have an alibi, at least a real alibi. They can all have done it and Poirot is going to use his Belgian brain to sort out the facts and bring out the truth, as a reconstruction that is intended to trap or trick the culprit. And it works. That's how the mystery is resolved. One shady corner can be found though: the cobra in Poirot's bathroom will remain unexplained. It must have been overlooked at some moment in the making of the film because Agatha Christie would never do such a mistake.

Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University of Paris Dauphine & University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice set, worth the price April 23 2004
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
I really loved all the Agatha Christie movies from the late 70's and early 80's. Death on the Nile and Evil Under the Sun are top notch. Both DVDs are worth the price alone for this set. Each DVD comes with extras, which is sort of amazing considering the age of these movies. In Death and Evil, they have brief interviews with most cast members about how they view their character, the hallmarks of each character, and whether they actually like the character. These are on-set interviews. There is a mini documentary about how the steamer from Death was found, and how it was recreated in the studio and how they dealt with moonlight scenes and the river look. It was great. There was a whole discussion about how the island was selected for Evil. There are a few interviews with Peter Ustinov as well. No deleted scenes or alternative endings, but great extras otherwise. Each comes with a theatrical trailer as well.
Death on the Nile is one I can watch over and over. It boast a great cast, a great script, and good action. It is very funny also. Evil Under the Sun is almost as good, it is funnier but there's not as much action, only one corpse. Both have lovely scenery and are truly good mysteries. I love Ustinov as the Belgian sleuth.
The Mirror Crack'd is the relative dud in this series. It was made around the same time as the others by the same people, so I see why it's included here, and it was also an all-star cast, but the story is rather dull and plodding. Little action, some decent humor, but it's not something you'd care to watch more than once or twice. It is more interesting to watch just to see a middle aged Elizabeth Taylor act with a slightly pre-AIDS Rock Hudson with a still young-looking Kim Novak. Neither Taylor nor Hudson gives a particularly memorable performance in this one, it does seem that at times Taylor and Hudson appear to be reading lines and showing no emotion or interest in their performances. They are that dull in this. A nice turn for Novak however, she plays the brazen hussie to the hilt and has some really funny lines, particularly with Taylor. But the story itself holds little interest and becomes tedious many times during the movie. Many have criticized Landsbury as Miss Marple. I thought she was fine, but doesn't have the zing of Ustinov.
If you are a fan of at least two of these films, get the box set. The extras are worth the price. The color and sound all looked acceptable and were good. They are widescreen format, whether you like it or not. I have a traditional square TV so it's a little annoying, but most prefer the widescreen and having black bars at the top and bottom of the screen for some reason.
4.0 out of 5 stars good April 22 2014
By William D Deniston - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Good but was better with David Sachet, do not like being forced to say more than I want, some times less is enough
5.0 out of 5 stars Agatha Christie then and now March 16 2014
By Sharon E Hanson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I love Agatha Christie any way I can get it from the very old movies (this set) to the up to date Poirot in 2014.
I love these films and love to compare them to the same versions made by the English more recently.
I think I own 3 versions of Death on the Nile and the book.
Can't get enough of Christie.
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