Precious Bodily Fluids

And Then There Were None & Ten Little Indians

ThereWereNone1

Island setting: "And Then There Were None"

TenLittle1

Alpine setting: "Ten Little Indians"

In 1945 Rene Clair directed And Then There Were None, and in 1965 (a perfect twenty years) George Pollock directed Ten Little Indians. Ironically, the earlier title is the more politically correct, and Clair’s excellent abilities overall outdo Pollock’s freedom to insert sexier elements in the decidedly 60s later film. Two very similar yet very different films, both adapted from the same source material (Agatha Christie’s own stage adaptation of her mystery novel), certain moments are shot-for-shot the same, while the mood of the later film differs in kind from its predecessor. Clair’s soundtrack features dramatic orchestral music that heightens the suspense and intensity (suspensity?), and its relatively slow pace draws out the serial murders in a careful and rhythmic fashion. Pollock’s soundtrack is jazzy, and the style of the film reflects a freewheeling, carefree attitude. The murders are anything but rhythmic, rather happening at the whim of the director/murderer (yes, the identification here is strong). Somehow, though, Ten Little Indians, which is only seven minutes shorter, feels only half as long as And Then There Were None, not that that film seems “long” in any negative sense.

Across (ATTWN)

Across (ATTWN)

Up (TLI)

Up (TLI)

These films aim for different auras, each faithful in their own way to Christie’s thrilling drama and morbid humor. Apparently Ten Little Indians originally featured a one-minute “Whodunit Break” just before the film’s end to allow the audience to guess the perpetrating mastermind. Though this break is only included as a special feature on the DVD, it gives a big clue as to the intention behind this film; nay, to the murder mystery genre itself. It was both inevitable and ingenious that the board game “Clue” should eventually be turned into a film. The game has such a cinematic element to it, just as the films are games for the audience. This reveals the pulpy nature of these books and films, usually serial in nature: they are above all concerned with audience reaction rather than any kind of meaning. A master like Hitchcock could dodge this status in his films due to his deeply Freudian mindset, but Agatha Christie and Ian Fleming (quite different though their creations may be) were in the business of gaining followers and they wrote stories geared toward those followers. Learning Fleming’s world makes anything James Bond does believable, and learning Christie’s gives the reader/viewer a chance to make sense of the mystery before it’s solved.

We few...

We few...

...we temporarily happy few

...we temporarily happy few

Injuns

TenLittle4

Poisoned prince...

Poisoned prince...

...poisoned popstar

...poisoned popstar

A game of the mind...

A game of the mind...

...and the mindless

...and the mindless

Wanna form an alliance?

Wanna form an alliance?

Allied and alligned

Allied and alligned

The 40s...

The 40s...

...and the 60s

...and the 60s

Hedunit?

Hedunit?

Time for a break

Time for a break

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This entry was published on September 28, 2009 at 11:07 am. It’s filed under 1940s Cinema, 1960s Cinema, American film and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

5 thoughts on “And Then There Were None & Ten Little Indians

  1. Suspensity! I do like it.
    Brief and good insight on these two film. I actually read the book when I was about sixteen and was very impressed with it, I specially remember the feel of travelling to the island by boat, all the suspense involved in it, and how much did it taste like thirties and forties to me. Anyway, I guess that means I’m voting for the old film (although the only version I’ve seen is the sixties one.
    Great blog by the way.

    Pd. did you ever have the chance to check up a spanish film called “Muerte de un ciclista” (1955) directerd by Juan Antonio Bardem (father of Javier)?

  2. oh, “Muerte de un ciclista”… absolutely a masterpiece!

  3. It appears that “Muerte de un ciclista” is available at my local library, so I’ll check it out (although it seems to be available here).

  4. Scott Palmer on said:

    I have seen both of these films many times. The first one I saw was the 1965 version, later on TV when I was 8 years old. It made quite an impression. Although the location was changed it almost seemed better, and the actors/characters were more like the book.

    Also in the 1965 film there were no comedy elements or light touches as was the case in the 1945 film. Considering people were being murdered, it made things all the more believable and realistic in the later film. The ending of the two films makes to me the latter one superior. In 1945 we have two people (apparently) left and Lombard tells Vera to PRETEND to shoot him, and falls down, so when she returns to the house and is confronted by the murderer, we know perfectly well that Lombard will walk in. In the 1965 film however we are absolutely certain that she kills Lombard, as any plans to shoot wide have been done off camera. This creates a “double shock” when firstly we see the killer, then someone presumed dead walks in!

    WE also have great acting from the likes of Wilfrid Hyde-White, Leo Genn, Dennis Price, and Stanley Holloway, and the others are more than adequate (yes, even Fabian!-read the book and you’ll see he is just the way Christie wrote the character-except that they didn’t have “pop” stars back then).

  5. kristen on said:

    the book was very well written the characters almost able to be imagined i have just read this book with my 9th grade class and wanted to mabe see if we could act it out do you think it’d be possible for a class of 11 to act it out? and is the movie great?

    -kristen.

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