Peter Ustinov, who played the fictional Belgian detective Hercule Poirot in Death on the Nile, returns to the screen on Anthony Shaffer's nifty adaptation of Agatha Christie's 1941 novel Evil Under the Sun. While vacationing at a luxury hotel on an island in the Adriatic, a sexy, obnoxious, and self-centered actress, Arlena Marshall (Diana Rigg), is murdered. Everyone at the sea hotel has a reason to knock her off and they all have alibis.
Inspector Poirot is not very accustomed to beach sports (Ustinov does some very funny physical comedy with this bit of material). Nonetheless, he has an eagle eye for details and an iron resolve to solve the crime. The top-drawer cast includes the spunky resort owner (Maggie Smith), the actress's cuckolded husband (Denis Quilley), her put-upon and resentful step-daughter (Emily Hone), a greedy couple who produce plays in New York (James Mason and Sylvia Mile), a gay columnist (Roddy McDowall) who has written a book about Arlena; a philandering Irishman (Nicholas Clay) and his listless wife (Jane Birkin), and a rich industrialist (Colin Blakely) who believes the actress stole some of his jewels. Evil Under the Sun has something for everyone wit, idiosyncratic characters, a corking mystery, beautiful settings, and a cracker-jack ending.