And Then There Were None (1945 film)
And Then There Were None is a 1945 film adaptation of Agatha Christie's best-selling mystery novel of the same name, directed by René Clair. It was released in the United Kingdom as Ten Little Indians, in keeping with a later United Kingdom title of Christie's novel.
|And Then There Were None|
American film poster
|Directed by||René Clair|
|Produced by||René Clair|
Harry M. Popkin
|Written by||Dudley Nichols|
|Based on||1939 Novel:|
|Music by||Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco|
|Cinematography||Lucien N. Andriot|
|Edited by||Harvey Manger|
|Distributed by||Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation|
|Box office||$1 million|
Eight people, all total strangers to each other, are invited to a small, isolated island off the coast of Devon, England, by a Mr. and Mrs. Owen. Ferried over by a sailor called Narracott, they settle in at a mansion tended by two newly-hired servants, Thomas and Ethel Rogers, but their hosts are absent. When the guests sit down to dinner, they notice the centerpiece, ten figurines of Indians in a circle. Afterward, Thomas Rogers puts on a gramophone record, from which a voice accuses them all of murder:
- General Sir John Mandrake (C. Aubrey Smith), of ordering his wife's lover, a lieutenant, to his death
- Emily Brent (Judith Anderson), of the death of her young nephew
- Dr. Edward G. Armstrong (Walter Huston), of drunkenness which resulted in a patient dying
- Prince Nikita Starloff (Mischa Auer), of killing a couple
- Vera Claythorne (June Duprez), of murdering her sister's fiancé
- Judge Francis J. Quinncannon (Barry Fitzgerald), of being responsible for the hanging of an innocent man
- Philip Lombard (Louis Hayward), of killing 21 East African tribesmen
- William H. Blore (Roland Young), of perjury, resulting in an innocent man's death
- Thomas (Richard Haydn) and Ethel Rogers (Queenie Leonard), of the demise of their previous employer, an invalid.
It turns out that none of the ten knows or has even seen "U. N. Owen," as he signed his instructions to Rogers; they suddenly realize it stands for "unknown." The guests decide to leave, but Rogers informs them that the boat will not return until Monday, and it is only Friday.
Starloff admits to running down a couple while speeding. Then he takes a drink and dies from poison. The next morning, the guests learn that Mrs. Rogers has died in her sleep. Quinncannon reports that Rogers found one figurine broken after Starloff's demise. Now another is missing. With two deaths matching the Ten Little Indians nursery rhyme, they search the island for "Mr. Owen" without success. After General Mandrake is stabbed in the back, the judge arrives at the only explanation: Owen must be one of them.
Another day passes. Everyone votes secretly for whom they suspect. Only Rogers receives two votes, and is sent to spend the night in the woodshed. After locking the dining room, they give Rogers the key. The next morning, however, they find him dead, his head split open with an axe. Miss Claythorne persuades Miss Brent to reveal that she had her nephew placed in a reformatory, where he hanged himself. Later that day, Miss Brent's body is found with a hypodermic needle nearby. Armstrong discovers that his is missing. Lombard admits he had a revolver, but it is lost as well.
At dinner, Quinncannon confesses he sentenced an innocent man to death to ruin the defending counsel's reputation. Armstrong then admits to operating while drunk, with fatal results. Blore grudgingly discloses that he perjured himself to put an innocent man in prison, where he died. Lombard merely states that the accusation against him is true. When it is Miss Claythorne's turn, she excuses herself to get her coat. The others hear her shriek and rush to her. In the confusion, a single gunshot is heard. They find her shaken after being brushed by seaweed hanging from the ceiling. They eventually find Lombard's gun, and Quinncannon dead from a shot to the head.
Miss Claythorne insists she is innocent, but Armstrong contends that only a person who had not committed a crime would want to mete out "justice", and locks her in her room. Later that night, she wakes to find Lombard outside her window. After he gives her his gun, she lets him inside. He persuades her to admit that it was her sister who killed her own fiancé, and that Miss Claythorne helped her cover up the crime and unofficially took the blame. They hear someone going downstairs. Upon investigation, they realize that Armstrong is missing.
The next morning, Blore goes outside to look for Armstrong and is struck by stonework toppled from the floor above. Lombard takes binoculars found beside the body and sees what Blore had—a corpse on the beach. It is Armstrong. Miss Claythorne pulls out the gun, now certain that Lombard is the killer. He tells her that his real name is Charles Morley, and that the real Lombard was his friend and had committed suicide. Morley has a flash of insight and urges Vera to shoot him.
Miss Claythorne fires and Morley drops. Returning to the mansion, she finds a noose hanging in the parlor and discovers who Owen is: Quinncannon, very much alive. The judge tells her that all his life he had searched for perfect justice. After learning that he was terminally ill, he concocted this plan. He persuaded Armstrong to fake his (Quinncannon's) death, supposedly to help catch Owen, then murdered Armstrong. He tells Miss Claythorne that she can either hang herself or be sent to the gallows (as the only possible perpetrator). He drinks poisoned whiskey, and Morley suddenly appears behind him. Vera missed the shot intentionally. Seeing a shadow by the door, they think that it is Owen, but discover it is Narracott. They leave him to discover what is going on and rush to the boat.
- Barry Fitzgerald as Judge Francis J. Quinncannon
- Walter Huston as Dr. Edward G. Armstrong
- Louis Hayward as Philip Lombard/Charles Morley
- June Duprez as Vera Claythorne
- Roland Young as Detective William Henry Blore
- Mischa Auer as Prince Nikita "Nikki" Starloff
- C. Aubrey Smith as General Sir John Mandrake
- Judith Anderson as Emily Brent
- Richard Haydn as Thomas Rogers
- Queenie Leonard as Ethel Rogers
- Harry Thurston as Fred Narracott
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 100% based on 12 reviews, with a weighted average rating of 8.1/10. Author and film critic Leonard Maltin awarded the film four out of four stars, calling it "Highly suspenseful" and praised the film's script, music score, and visuals.
On its release in 1945, Bosley Crowther said that "Rene Clair has produced an exciting film and has directed a splendid cast in it with humor and a light macabre touch." The film kept its audience involved "from fear and trembling, not from gore." Several performances were highlighted, including Walter Huston and Barry Fitzgerald.
Distribution and copyright
Though it was distributed by a major studio, 20th Century Fox, the copyright was allowed to lapse and the film is now in the public domain. Several different editions of varying quality have been released to home video formats.
The name of the film sometimes varies with who listed it. In 1960, Radio Times altered the title to Ten Little Niggers for an airing on BBC television on 9 July. That is the original title of the novel as released in the UK. The film being shown was this 1945 American film directed by Rene Clair.
Sensitivity to the original title of the novel was remarked by Sadie Stein in 2016, commenting on a BBC mini series with the title And Then There Were None, which she said "has been an enormous hit in the UK.". In general, "Christie’s work is not known for its racial sensitivity, and by modern standards her oeuvre is rife with casual Orientalism." The original title was based on a rhyme from minstrel shows and children's games, "a rhyme so macabre and distressing one doesn’t hear it now outside of the Agatha Christie context." Stein quotes Alison Light as to the power of the original name of the island in the novel, Nigger Island, "to conjure up a thrilling ‘otherness’, a place where revelations about the ‘dark side’ of the English would be appropriate". Speaking of the "widely known" 1945 movie, Stein added that "we’re merely faced with fantastic amounts of violence, and a rhyme so macabre and distressing one doesn’t hear it now outside of the Agatha Christie context." She felt that the original title of the novel in the UK, seen now, "that original title, it jars, viscerally."
Later film versions
Christie's mystery has been filmed a number of times, including as Ten Little Indians (1965), Ten Little Indians (1974), Desyat Negrityat (1987) and Ten Little Indians (1989), with variations to its characters and locale.
- "Indies $70,000,000 Pix Output". Variety: 18. November 3, 1944. Retrieved July 26, 2016.
- Solomon, Aubrey (2002). Twentieth Century-Fox: A Corporate and Financial History. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 221.
- Crowther, Bosley (November 1, 1945). "And Then There Were None (1945)". The New York Times. Retrieved February 14, 2019.
- "Ten Little Indians". British Board of Film Classification.
- Willison, I.R., ed. (1972). "Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie". The New Cambridge Bibliography of English Literature (Volume 4 1900–1950). Cambridge University Press. p. 553. ISBN 0-521-08535-7.
- "Barry Fitzgerald, Louis Hayward, Walter Huston in "Ten little Indians"". OCLC WorldCat. Publicity campaign book. 1945.
- "And Then There Were None (1945) - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes.com. Flixer. Retrieved April 7, 2018.
- Maltin, Leonard; Green, Spencer; Edelman, Rob (January 2010). Leonard Maltin's Classic Movie Guide. Plume. p. 19. ISBN 978-0-452-29577-3.
- "1946–2017 Palmarès". Locarno Festival. Retrieved November 13, 2017.
- "And Then There Were None". MUBI.
- Hurst, Walter E.; Baer, D. Richard (2008). Film Superlist: Motion Pictures in the U.S. Public Domain (1940-1949). Hollywood, California: Hollywood Film Archives. ISBN 978-0913616277.
- Arnold, Jeremy. "And Then There Were None - Home Movie Reviews". TCM Movie Database. Retrieved June 16, 2015.
- "The Saturday Film: Ten Little Indians". Radio Times (1912). BBC Magazines. July 1, 1960. p. 23.
- "Ten little niggers". OCLC WorldCat. 1939.
- Stein, Sadie (February 5, 2016). "Mystery". The Paris Review. Retrieved February 14, 2019.
- Light, Alison (2013) . Forever England: Femininity, Literature and Conservatism Between the Wars. Routledge. p. 99. ISBN 978-1-135-62984-7.
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