Ten strangers are summoned to a remote island and while they are waiting for the mysterious host to appear, a recording levels serious accusations at each of the guests. Soon they start being murdered, one by one. As the survivors try to keep their wits, they reach a disturbing conclusion: one of them must be the killer.
If you enjoy this review, please check out my blog, Old Hat Cinema, at https://oldhatcinema.medium.com/ for more reviews and other cool content. And then there were...too many. From Agatha Christie’s highly acclaimed novel, originally published as Ten Little Indians, comes this mediocre “thriller”. With an all-star cast, including Barry Fitzgerald, Walter Houston, Louis Hayward, and Roland Young, and directed by Rene Clair, you’d think you were in for one of the all-time great mystery thrillers of the ‘40’s. Especially considering the material it came from: Christie’s expertly-written, suspenseful, and at times downright frightening novel is a great read that I highly recommend to anyone whose nerves can handle it. It’s one of the greatest stories of human corruption and brutality, of heinous crimes committed by a twisted mind, ever written. Bottom line: the film is a bleak and utter disappointment. I then found out that the movie was actually based upon the stage play version, also written by Agatha Christie in 1943, four years after the publication of the novel. She rewrote the ending, reportedly feeling that the original ending would be too depressing for wartime audiences…making the very title no longer applicable! Instead of the dark and bloody climax of the novel, she went in for a “happily ever after” love story. Miss Christie, what were you thinking?! If the production had been adapted from the novel instead, perhaps it could have been a good, worthwhile film. Although, the movie was also made during wartime; hence the usage of the alternate, rather than the original, ending. Ultimately, the film never reaches the level of shock and suspense that is inherent in the novel. The only positive thing I can say is that the cast was competent, and Walter Huston definitely stood out. Overall, you’d be better off reading the real And Then There Were None. In the film, there were too many left.
This is a superbly directed (by René Clair) adaptation of one of Agatha Christie's more intriguing murder mysteries that I don't think has been surpassed in the 75-odd years since it first hit the screen. A great ensemble cast are invited to weekend on a remote island by a couple they have never met. Once on the island, their host - by way of a record - accuses each of them of committing heinous crimes; then slowly - but surely - they start to drop like flies. I suppose I have to warn that in the vernacular of the 2020s, this film contains language and terminology that we might find offensive nowadays, but suspend the correctness for 100 minutes and you'll get a great murder mystery featuring a super cast - especially Barry Fitzgerald ("Judge Quincannon"); Louis Hayward ("Lombard") and June Duprez ("Vera") ; as well as some classy contributions from Judith Anderson and Sir C. Aubrey Smith and some clever staging/dialogue with a genuinely good "whodunit" ending with a twist. As with a few Christie stories, it's quite plausible that anyone did it and on stage it wasn't always the same character behind the plotting - so don't assume you will know who is the cunning brain behind it all if you've seen any other iterations.