I am continuing my mission to try to watch all the available adaptations of Agatha Christie’s work with a look at the 1945 adaptation of what many think of as her greatest novel, Rene Clair’s ‘And Then There Were None.’ This is currently available to watch on Amazon Prime, and I have to say that I rather loved this, as, as well as having a stellar cast, it actually added a wily humour to the tale that worked well with the story.
The story is well known, and retains most of its elements. Ten people, strangers to each other, are invited to a mysterious house on a Soldier island that can only be reached at low tide, by a Mr. and Mrs. U.N. Owen. They are given different reasons for their invite, but once on the island it is clear that their host is not there, and once they see the 10 figurines, and the famous 10 Little Indians rhyme, which leads to the ‘and then there were none’ line, it is clear that none of the guests are supposed to survive the weekend, but are instead being accused, tried and found guilty of crimes that they thought they had got away with, and then summarily executed in a manner to that similar to the Indians of the rhyme. Who is killing the guests? It becomes clear that there is no one else on the Island, and so a killer is amongst them. But who? Well, that would be telling.
The cast has some luminaries of 1940s films, including a brilliant turn by Judith Anderson, who was so chilling as Mrs Danvers in the original Rebecca, as Miss Emily Brent, who had no problem in abandoning her nephew to a reformatory where he took his own life. Barry Fitzgerald plays the judge as quite a genial character, quite different from other portrayals I have seen, whilst Misha Auer doesn’t last long, but gives an eye catching turn as the first victim Prince Nikita Starloff. The beautiful June Duprez is Vera Claythorne, accused of murdering her sister’s fiancé, whilst Louis Hayward plays the mysterious Philip Lombard, who has luggage with someone else’s initials, and is also carrying a gun.
What is great about this film is that so much is left to the imagination. You see no actual deaths, no blood or guts, and instead you are left to imagine what has happened. Add this in to the wry humour of the piece, and clever touches like each character introducing themselves straight to the camera, and you have a really interesting, entertaining adaptation of what is a great book by an author at the top of her game.