Ten Little Indians (1974)

aka Ein Unbekannter rechnet ab
Article 4730 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 1-6-2015
Directed by Peter Collinson
Featuring Charles Aznavour, Maria Rohm, Adolfo Celi
Country: Italy / West Germany / France / Spain / UK
What it is: Agatha Christie mystery

Eight guests are invited to a party at a mansion in the middle of a desert by a host named U.N. Owen, but the host is not present; only two servants are found on the premises. Then a recording is played where the host accuses all ten people of having committed murder. Then the guests and the help begin dying one by one…

For the record, I’ve seen the Rene Clair movie AND THEN THERE WERE NONE twice, and I’ve also read the stage play version of the story twice, once within the last few months. In short, I’m very familiar with the story, and seeing how it’s one of Christie’s most popular works, I’m sure it’s familiar to a lot of other people are as well. And therein lies one of the pitfalls of filming an extremely well known mystery story; the only way you’re really going to surprise a viewer already familiar with the work is by being unfaithful to the story. For the record, this version changes some of the details; for example, the setting is a mansion in the middle of a desert rather than on an island (in either case, there’s no way for the people to leave), and the methods of several of the murders are different, but in essence, it remains faithful to the traditional versions of the story. Still, there are two things that I really like about this one. First of all, I find it hard to dislike any movie that features Oliver Reed, Elke Sommer, Herbert Lom, Richard Attenborough, Gert Frobe, Maria Rohm and Adolfo Celi all at once (all these names together can’t help my make me smile), and the interior sets are stunning; no wonder there are so many long shots in the movie placing all the actors against these sets. Some of the scenes work quite nicely, and there are a couple of clumsy moments, but overall, I rather liked this version of the movie. It just didn’t have a lot in the way of surprises.

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