Why Didn't They Ask Evans? (1980)

TV Movie   |  Not Rated   |    |  Crime, Mystery, Romance

Why Didn't They Ask Evans? (1980) Poster

While golfing on the Welsh coast, Bobby Jones apparently hits a stranger who falls off the the sea cliff. His enigmatic last words are "Why didn't they ask Evans?"


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25 February 2016 | rmax304823
| Oh, DO have some tea!
Nifty production of Agatha Christie story. A man is found dying among some rocks on a beach in Wales, evidently having fallen from the cliff above. Bernard Miles and (someone else) find him. He utters only a few last words -- "Why didn't they ask Evans?" -- before giving up the ghost. Francesca Annis, a young lady with a title visiting Wales, inserts herself into the mystery. She finds out the man's identity and his local hosts, a patron, a young blond lady, and a young man. The host family is a suspicious lot, especially the father who is a nervous wreck and makes several allusions to opioid drugs. All of this is sharply but discretely observed by Francesca Annis who has managed a longish visit at the family's stately home, Merriway Court. She manages to enlist her boy friend in the case and has his pose as her chauffeur, and both of them begin prying.

Much of the conversation takes place at the dinner table. Everyone dabs decorously at his plate and seems disinterested except that they are listening with keen ears. This is an English pattern. I know I shouldn't make such Olympian judgements but I'm beyond that. The QE2 dining room was filled with British passengers and was silent except for the tinkling of silverware on china. As my wife and I were preparing to leave, I said audibly, "I never believed one bullet could make such a mess. There was blood everywhere." The tinkling paused only for about two seconds before resuming its silvery fairy-tale melody.

This is rather a typical Agatha Christie tale in that the plot -- extending as it does over three longish installments -- is labyrinthine. I lost track of who was suspected of what, and why, from time to time, despite the recurring themes of greed and narcotics. Bonus points for exquisite photography and location shooting. Everything seems so CLEAN and SUNNY.

We must count Francesca Annis among the many things that are clean and sunny. Her chipper persona enlivens every scene she's in. And though she's not one of those stunning English blonds one often finds in these tales, she's a splendid actress, a delight to watch. Her friend, the faux chauffeur, is something of a dull bulb compared to her sharp wit.

In fact, if there's anything resembling a message in this story, it's that men are either a little slow witted or are particeps criminis. It's the young, good-looking, energetic women in their white frocks and 1930s hair styles that ferret out the truth.

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