Movie Reviews: 2 Agatha Christie Movies, 1 Director

I’m a big James Bond fan. What does that have to do with Agatha Christie, you ask? Well, Guy Hamilton (director of Goldfinger, and some not as great Bonds (Diamonds are Forever, Live and Let Die, The Man with the Golden Gun) happened to direct two Christie adaptations back to back, each starring some pretty fantastic actors. I’m a sucker for a good mystery, and they’re both on Instant Watch, so . . .

The Mirror Crack’d–A Miss Marple mystery starring Angela Lansbury before she became Jessica Fletcher. It also stars–get this–Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, Tony Curtis, Kim Novak, and even has Pierce Brosnan in his first film role (a two second part, really. And he’s just a kid. But still.) All star to say the least. A movie is being made in England, and two rival leading ladies are cast in starring roles. Both are very dive-esque. And then someone dies. Naturally, it happens to be in Miss Marple’s hometown.

The actual mystery doesn’t quite live up to the casting, but it was enjoyable enough. The solution to the mystery seemed just a bit too far-fetched for me. I like my whodunnits to have given me enough information to solve the case on my own, but complex enough that I wasn’t able to solve it until it’s staring me in the face. Not an easy balance to achieve. Typically it’s too obvious, or there’s not enough information given. This was close, but leaned toward the latter. I particularly liked the chief inspector, who was utterly disarming and yet able to get everyone to talk about just what he wanted them to–and not seem contrived while doing it. Two and a half stars.

The gem (in my opinion) is Evil Under the Sun, starring the always delightful Peter Ustinov as Hercule Poirot. He does such a fantastic job with the character. It’s easy to see why he returned to the role again and again over the years. I’ve watched the television series of Poirot. It’s just not the same. It’s hard to make a fussy fat man entertaining and endearing. Ustinov pulls it off.

In this mystery, Poirot is called to a small island resort to investigate a stolen gem. As is so often the case, there’s ┬áreally annoying person on the island, and everyone wants her dead. (This is why we don’t live on islands, folks.) Somebody follows through on that desire, and Hercule Poirot races (or waddles) to the rescue. The mystery is quite well done. I wasn’t expecting much from this movie, and I got more. Three stars.

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