Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Overlooked Movies -- And Then There Were None (1945)

The first Agatha Christie novel I ever read was Ten Little Indians which was originally published with a more offensive title and which later became And Then There Were None.  I was 11 or 12 years old, and I thought it was terrific.  Later on I saw the 1965 film in the theater, which is a lot different from the book and which, as it turns out, is also quite a bit different from the 1945 version, which, in turn, is different from the stage play.  I liked the 1965 film when I saw it, though, and you can't go wrong with a movie that has Fabian in it.  but the point is that while it's fairly famous, and while all of you have probably seen it, I'd overlooked the 1945 movie until now.  

As you can see on the poster to the left, the cast is top notch: Barry Fitzgerald, Walter Huston, Louis Hayward, Roland Young, June Duprez, Mischa Auer, C. Aubrey Smith, Judith Anderson, Richard Haydn and Queenie Leonard  No Fabian, though.  RenĂ© Clair directed, and the movie turned out to be a big hit.

I'm sure you know the setup.  Eight people, none of whom have ever met before, are ferried to a deserted island.  They've been invited by U.N. Owen.  When they arrive at the only house on the island, they're greeted by two servants, but there's no sign of Mr. Owen.  A recording is played and each of the guests is accused of murder or of having contributed to someone's death.  So are the servants.  

You know the rest.  There's no way off the island for several days, and guests begin dying it ways mentioned in the "Ten Little Indians" rhyme.  So who's behind it all?  Who will live and who will die?  If you've read the book, you might not get the answer to both of those right, since the ending has been "Hollywooded" a bit, but it's still fun to watch the cast go through their paces and to see the cleverness of the murderer.  And to try to guess who it is, though that's not as hard as you might think.  A very entertaining movie, and I'm glad I finally saw it.

11 comments:

George said...

This is one of my favorite Christies. Classic!

pattinase (abbott) said...

One of her best and I have seen this version, I think.

August West said...

One thing the 1965 version had going for it was Shirley Eaton.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

I can't believe you never saw it before!

This was also the first Christie I read. I've seen many versions, each of which has gotten progressively worse, it seems. (Although for bad adaptations, I don't know if any come close to THE LADY VANISHES with Elliot Gould and Cybill Shepherd. But I digress.)

There was a 1974 version set at an abandoned hotel in the Iranian desert, with Oliver Reed as Hugh Lombard and Elke Sommer as Vera Clyde. Richard Attenborough was the Judge. It sucked.

The 1989 version (set on an African safari!) starred (if you can believe it) Frank Stallone (I swear I am not making this up) as Philip Lombard. Donald Pleasence was the Judge.

Herbert Lom was in both of these, by the way, but sadly Fabian wasn't.

Bill Crider said...

I've seen none of those other versions. Probably that's for the best.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

We also saw the 2005 London stage version, which restored the original ending.

Deb said...

It only goes to show that even by 1945 the rather desolate ending of the book was not considered palatable to audiences.

Anonymous said...

The TV MINI-series from a few years ago was pretty good too . Laid the heavy atmosphere on with a trowel, but it did also retain Christie's nihilistic ending.

Don Coffin said...

I first saw this version in the early 1970s when I was in grad school (and tended to stay up way too late at might) on a Pittsburgh TV station. It ran I a 90minute slot with at least 45 minutes of commercials, so you can imagine...

I have it on DVD and have watched it 3 or 4 times. It's pretty good, even when you know what's coming.

Priscilla said...

This is one of my favorite movies. Fabulous cast.

Dan said...

Serial murder done up as a comedy of manners.