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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Appointment With Death (1988)

Another all star Agatha Christie whodunit set in an exotic or glamorous location, this time Italy and Israel (subbing for 1937 Palestine) but the film lacks the elegance of MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS, DEATH ON THE NILE and EVIL UNDER THE SUN. With the erratic Michael Winner at the helm, it's not very well directed either. Luckily, there's Peter Ustinov on board again as the definitive Hercule Poirot (you can have David Suchet), fussy and prying as always. This time, a rich, spiteful American widow (Piper Laurie) is the victim and there are plenty of suspects including her brood of stepchildren. It's actually one of Christie's more clever concoctions (three screenwriters involved including Anthony Shaffer) but Winner seems to be going through the motions, either lacking any real interest in creating suspense or simply unable to piece it together in a convincing way (he did the flabby editing under a pseudonym). The pedestrian score by Pino Donaggio doesn't help much either. With Lauren Bacall, Hayley Mills, John Gielgud, Carrie Fisher, Michael Craig, David Soul, Jenny Seagrove and Nicholas Guest.

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