Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, March 29, 2018


Carrie Fisher and Nicholas Guest
APPOINTMENT WITH DEATH (1988). Producer/director: Michael Winner

In 1937 Emily Boynton (Piper Laurie), a former prison wardress, rules over her family after her husband's death with an iron fist. The American family consists of two attractive stepdaughters, Carol (Valerie Richards) and Ginevra (Amber Bezer), and two strikingly good-looking stepsons, Raymond (John Terlesky), who is single, and Lennox (Nicholas Guest), who is married to Nadine (Carrie Fisher). Vacationing in the Holy Land with the rest of his family, Raymond finds himself attracted to Dr. Sarah King (Jenny Seagrove), who is appalled by the domineering behavior of his stepmother. Then there's a murder, and Hercule Poirot (Peter Ustinov) is conveniently on the scene to  ferret out the killer  ... Appointment with Death is a mediocre adaptation of one of Agatha Christie's best murder mysteries, though the film does boast some interesting settings and decent performances. Piper Laurie [Dario Argento's Trauma] is probably the cast standout, and we've also got Lauren Bacall in a superficial turn as Lady Westholme; Sir John Gielgud wasted as an elderly colonel; Michael Craig barely putting in an appearance as Lord Peel; Hayley Mills [The Family Way] fine as a traveling companion of Lady Westholme's; and David Soul [The Disappearance of Flight 412] effective enough as Jefferson Cope, the family lawyer with a shady past. More or less faithful to the novel, the screenwriters invent some stuff but director Winner fails to give the film very much suspense. Ustinov's performance is too fussy by far.

Verdict: Okay, but stick with the book if you love Christie. **1/2.


angelman66 said...

Bill, I remember this being a huge bomb back in the day, despite Ustinov (whom I adore) and a fabulous cast including Miss Bacall, Hayley Mills (my childhood crush), Hutch himself David Soul and Princess leia to boot. (Forgot Miss Carrie Fisher was even in it, to tell the truth.). I always thought this was the most boring of all the filmed all-star Christie mysteries.

William said...

And, sadly, it needn't have been boring, but it just wasn't that well done. In the original novel Mills' character was an elderly lady, but she was made younger and reinvented as a romantic partner for David Soul! Way to go, Hayley!