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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
In 1981 London Weekend Television presented a three hour adaptation of the Agatha Christie novel WHY DIDN'T THEY ASK EVANS? (starring two actors who would go on to play Tommy and Tuppence in another series of Christie mysteries) James Warwick and Francesca (DUNE) Annis. In this adventure the two play amateur sleuths Bobby Jones and Lady Frankie Derwent in a 1920s murder investigation caper.

The story opens with Jones tackling a game of golf on the Welsh coast. Playing his ball onto the edge of a cliff he comes across the body of a man lying on the rocks below and his companion (the local doctor) goes to fetch help (seems a little backwards, but no matter). Regaining consciousness briefly the man utters the cryptic words `Why didn't the ask Evans?' and then passes away. Jones finds a copy of a ladies picture in the man's pocket - a woman he feels an obvious attraction towards.

Passing on the role of watcher over the dead body to a passing man so he can keep an appointment, Jones takes of without thinking anything of it but that it was a tragic accident.

However his suspicions are raised when the man's body is identified by means of the police tracing the girl depicted on the photograph they find on his body. However, this girls photograph is of a different person than that which he discovered.

What follows is an intriguing and well acted made-for-television feature. I did not notice any particular problems with the picture as was noted in other reviews, but the sound level did fade in and out and was at times distracting. This is not the best DVD transfer I have seen, but it also is far from the worst either.

Overall this comes recommended for Christie fans, not the best of her stories, but certainly one with enough twists and turns to keep you guessing to the very end.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on May 5, 2003
Why Didn't They Ask Evan's? is a terrific Agatha Christie mystery story (based on Christie's novel The Boomerang Clue) made into a terrific mystery movie. The plot, though a bit convoluted, is well developed and the excellent cast carries it out superbly. Although this is not one of Agatha Christie's biggest hits, it definitely is one of her best stories and as fine a Christie-based movie as I've ever seen. Now that it's available on DVD I hope it will achieve the recognition it amply deserves. Highly recommended.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Bobby Jones (James Warwick) is pitifully attempting to play golf on ground above the cliff to the sea. He would most assuredly hit someone if the ball just gets that far. He hears a cry but just plays on. That is until the search for the ball takes him to the edge of the cliff where it appears that a hiker fell on the rocks below. Bobby rushes to the aid of the fallen man. The fallen man come conscious just long enough to say "Why Didn't They Ask Evans?" then expires.

From here characters pour in from all sides and you need to keep a score card and there are several doctors and mysteriously guilty looking people. You may guess some of the story but not all as they hold back most of clues until the last moment.

Once again Britton has excelled in bringing a great Agatha Christie story to life. They did not try to overstate or rush through the story. Also true to Christies writing they left in the characters instead of trying to homogenize them into fewer numbers for TV's sake.

We recognize the actors for other such stories:

James Warwick who trained at the Central School in London also played Tommy in Agatha Christie's "Partners in Crime" series.
Francesca Annis was Tuppence in the "Partners in Crime" series. But where I remember her most as Lady Jessica in "Dune" (1984).
Sir John Gielgud, a graduate of the Royal Academy of Dramatic arts in London played Hamlet on the stage.
The big surprise is the late Joan Hickson who made her stage debut in prudential theater in 1927 and played the best Miss Marple in the Agatha Christie series of movies. You may not recognize her but she was also the landlady in "The Man Who Never Was" (1956)
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on January 14, 2006
Playing badly at golf witht the local doctor, starry-eyed Bobby Jones (James Warwick)discovers a body on the rocks below them. Before he dies, the man quietly says "Why Didn't They Ask Evans?" Bobby passes the job of waiting for the doctor and some men to carry the dead one back into town to a passerby so that he can play the piano for his father's sermons.

While helping out a friend with a stuttering problem and love of 1920 cars, Bobby meets up with old friend, and secret love interest, Lady Francis "Frankie" Derwent (Francesca Annis). When both join the trial to see if the dead man's death was accidental or not, Bobby points out that a picture isn't the one he saw in the dead man's pocket. Thus, the adventure of a lifetime begins for the three friends (Bobby, Frankie, and Bobby's friend)as they meet up with a crazy doctor, a dashing young man that sweeps Frankie off her feet, a drug addict and his nervous wife, and the doctor's equally crazy wife.

Agatha Christie's made for TV movie is a wonderful adaptation of the book. What I mostly like about it is that you never get bored and it makes you keep guessing right up until the last scene of the movie (which is really a surprise no one would've guessed). James and Francesca have the most interesting and real chemistry I've ever seen. I've seen them in Tommy and Tuppence some years ago, and I feel in love with the characters as well as the actors protraying them. A perfect example is when both are tyed up by the "murderer" in a locked room and Bobby's friend saves them, Bobby becomes upset that Frankie has feelings for another man, but Frankie says "But, Bobby. I did miss you and I do care for you." And the way they look at each other...it's magical. I couldn't even tell if they were acting sometimes.

My favorite short scene in the movie is when Frankie and Bobby, when trying to save someone and have little time to do it, fly to Frankie's estate and borrow her father's car. It's funny because you just see the father and than Frankie and Bobby run by with Franie screaming, "Hi dad. Bye dad. Can't talk now, going to borrow the car."

Anyway, "Why Didn't They Ask Evans?" is a wonderful film to me becasue of an interesting story with fake ID's and many twists and turns, thanks to Dame Agatha Christie, and the leads played by James Warwick and Fransesca Annis who play Bobby and Frankie, as well as Tommy and Tuppence, picture perfect. This is a good film to watch if you love Britsh movies or a huge Agatha Christie fan.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on July 21, 2003
And why indeed didn't they? While this long, made for T.V. movie could have been much shorter if they simply had asked Evans, it would not have been nearly as enjoyable. The script, adapted from an Agatha Christie novel of the same name, mimics the pace and rythem of the original quite well. While the quality of acting was good, the picture quality of the DVD was grainy and the sound faded in and out at times. The attempts at action and/or suspense via fights or late night escapades also did not come off very well partially due to the bad picture quality. These scenes did not in any real way hinder the movie since the real fun is trying to solve the mystery before Bobby and Frankie do. (If you find out who Evans is before they do, my hat is off to you!) The last scene with the villain is a clumsy and implausable plot device (how many times is Frankie going to fall for the same ruse?) to the viewer to get a detailed description of the plot from the villain himself but if you like mysteries in the Agatha Christie style, then you will enjoy this movie.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon November 4, 2005
A golf game on a windy bluff above the sea, a cry, a man lying on the rocks below who struggles to say with his dying breath, "Why didn't they ask Evans?" And we're off on a three-hour Agatha Christie tale of family deception, murder, lies and ruthless intrigue. We're also thrust into the Twenties and early Thirties' world of wealthy English bright young things, a world of upper-crust accents, immaculate manners and immaculate croquet grounds, country homes with many rooms and even more servants, and gleaming autos almost as long as a cricket pitch.

This TV movie, originally a three-part British television production, would seem to have everything. So why is it unsatisfying? And why, as unsatisfying as I think it is, is it still amusing to watch? The unsatisfying parts first. 1) The story goes on and on. It easily could have been cut by at least half an hour. 2) The mystery is convoluted and hard to follow. 3) The two sleuths, Lady Frances Derwent (Francesca Annis) and Bobby Jones (James Warwick) got a bit on my nerves. Bobby is brave, a puppy dog around Frankie and not too smart. Frankie is very much the bright young thing, superficially brittle with hidden warmth, clever and, to my taste, a bit too self-satisfied. I never forgot that I was watching actors. 4) The direction is heavy handed, as if the director felt he had to nudge us that we're watching a slightly silly period piece. The background music is frequently used to emphasize things that don't need to be emphasized.

What makes it watchable? Style, story and several of the actors. 1) This production looks great. The stately homes, inside and out, provide wonderful settings for distinctly upper class life. The period clothes for both the men and women look authentic and are often elegant. Dressing for dinner never looked better. 2) While the story is convoluted, it carries within it enough false leads to keep one's interest. The solution to the mystery and the answer to the dying man's question is clever. 3) Despite the artificiality of Annis' performance, she's a good enough actress to keep me watching her. It's style over substance, and she carries off the style handily. One of the important roles, who may be a diversion to the plot or may be a key ingredient, is played by Eric Porter, a fine actor. This was one of his last roles. He plays Dr. Nicholson, who runs a discrete clinic for disturbed relatives of wealthy families. The doctor is solicitous and alarming at the same time. Porter does a great job. If you have a chance, watch him as Soames in the early TV production of the Forsyte Saga. He was, in my view, an exceptional actor. In smaller roles Bernard Miles and John Gielgud show up. Joan Hickson makes an appearance looking utterly different from Miss Marple.

On balance, I think this is a show you might like if you're fond of British mysteries involving the upper class and don't expect a classic. You'll need to appreciate Lady Frances...but as Bobby tells her at the close, "You were so frightfully plucky..."

The DVD transfer is soft but not too bad. There is a filmography of several of the actors.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on June 24, 2004
If you like the Agatha Christie Partners in Crime Tommy and Tuppence series, you're going to love this story! Actually, it doesn't matter because this is an enjoyable 1920s mystery romp with just enough humor and romance blended into the more serious goings-on to please most everyone. It's amazing how complex and LONG a story this is. I checked the online description and the back of the box, but I couldn't discover if this had been a television mini-series or just a lengthy made-for-TV movie. Even though it's lots of fun, it does seem to go on forever!
The lead characters, played by Francesca Annis and James Warwick, are just as attractive a couple as they are in Tommy and Tuppence, except they don't seem to realize it until they've both had romantic "flings" with other characters in the cast. The sets and costumes look authentic 1920s, and the cars are particularly interesting, especially in the used car lot.

The only reluctance I had for giving this DVD release 5 stars is because of the uneven look of the movie itself. Sometimes this looks like sharply focused videotape, and at other times it looks like fuzzy film. This is probably because of the source material from 1980 rather than the fault of the DVD production, but it still should be noted. This is the same "look" as on the earlier Upstairs, Downstairs programs.
Nit-picking aside, this is a thoroughly worthwhile DVD that should appeal to most mystery and Agatha Christie fans in particular.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on July 10, 2003
As an Agatha Christie fan, I love the story. You do not know the murderer till the end. The acting is wonderful, typical british. Costume and sceen is beautifully selected. The only pity is the DVD effect is not obivious, maybe because the movie is comparably old - 1981
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on July 21, 2003
And why indeed didn't they? While this long, made for T.V. movie could have been much shorter if they simply had asked Evans, it would not have been nearly as enjoyable. The script, adapted from an Agatha Christie novel of the same name, mimics the pace and rythem of the original quite well. While the quality of acting was good, the picture quality of the DVD was grainy and the sound faded in and out at times. The attempts at action and/or suspense via fights or late night escapades also did not come off very well partially due to the bad picture quality. These scenes did not in any real way hinder the movie since the real fun is trying to solve the mystery before Bobby and Frankie do. (If you find out who Evans is before they do, my hat is off to you!) The last scene with the villain is a clumsy and implausable plot device (how many times is Frankie going to fall for the same ruse?) to the viewer to get a detailed description of the plot from the villain himself but if you like mysteries in the Agatha Christie style, then you will enjoy this movie.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
The acting was a bit stilted in this one but, all in all, not a bad rendition of a Christie favorite (I'm a HUGE Christie fan). The filming comes off as sort of soap-opera-ie for the indoor shots but the outdoor scenes are A-O-K. I confess (as a Christie apologist) that this is one of Christie's more inplausible mysteries but the director pulled it off darn good, without making his actors look ridiculous. I was especially impressed with the length of this film, quite long, and a good partial afternoon of DVD entertainment as far as I am concerned. To summarize, if you're an absolute Agatha Christie NUT, go ahead and consider this one a 5-star rating... however, if you are randomly looking around for ANY film to watch, regardless of genre, and have never seen a Christie mystery, you might find this to be a THREE.... (or a TWO!). I liked it a great deal and very much recommend it to appropriate fans.
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