Ten Little Indians (1974)

aka And Then There Were None

2016 #120
Peter Collinson | 94 mins | TV | 1.66:1 | Italy, West Germany, France, Spain & UK / English | PG / PG

Ten Little IndiansThe third English-language screen adaptation of Agatha Christie’s famed mystery, one of the best-selling novels of all time, relocates the action to the middle of a desert but is otherwise a word-for-word remake of the 1965 version — though it does lose the gloriously ’60s “Whodunnit Break”. (Both versions were made by the same producer, who would later remake it again in the ’80s.)

It’s interesting, therefore, that this lacks the atmosphere or tension of that version. I don’t think it’s just because I’m now more familiar with the story (having seen not only the ’65 version a couple of years ago, but also the new BBC adaptation that was on last Christmas) — it feels rushed at times, like a summary of the novel rather than a full retelling. Considering the screenplay is nearly identical to the ’65 version (merely tweaked to reflect the relocation), I can only assume that’s down to the way director Peter Collinson chooses to handle certain sequences. For example, in this version I never bought the relationship between youngsters Hugh and Vera, and sequences like the group searching the cellars contain no real sense of menace.

The cast is made up of recognisable faces from ’60s/’70s European cinema, led by Oliver Reed and Richard Attenborough, but also including the likes of Herbert Lom, Gert “Goldfinger” Fröbe, and Adolfo “Emilio Largo” Celi. Not that anyone’s bad, but there’s the sense they were probably there to earn a bit of cash while having a nice exotic holiday, and making a film on the side.

As a précis of the storyline, with some nicely photographed locations (the Iranian hotel they filmed in looks fairly stunning), this isn’t half bad. However, there are at least two better screen adaptations of the novel, and if what I’ve heard of the 1945 film and ’80s Russian adaptation are to be believed, I guess this comes pretty far down the chain.

3 out of 5

The Perfectly Adequate Monthly Update for July 2016

Another month over, another list of movies I watched during it…


#116 Zootropolis (2016), aka Zootopia
#117 Superman Returns (2006)
#118 Cold in July (2014)
#119 American Ultra (2015)
#120 Ten Little Indians (1974), aka And Then There Were None
#121 Zoolander (2001)
#122 Pride and Prejudice (1940)
#123 High-Rise (2015)
#124 The Visit (2015)
#125 The Imitation Game (2014)
#126 Sicario (2015)
#127 The Sting (1973)

.


  • A total of 12 new films this month means I maintain my ten-per-month minimum for the 26th month.
  • It also easily passes my July average (6.5, by far the lowest of any month), and is equal-best July ever (with last year).
  • It’s the ‘worst’ month of 2016 to date, though.
  • This month’s WDYMYHS viewing was classic con caper The Sting, which is still enjoyable but somewhat overshadowed by the fact it’s been so influential in the four decades since its release.
  • Zootastic: watched both Zoolander and Zootropolis, aka Zootopia, this month. That signifies absolutely nothing, it’s just there aren’t that many films with titles beginning “Zoo”.

(I’ve decided to put a moratorium on the Analysis section until at least December’s update — as I wrote in June, it’s a bit pointless at the minute. That’s why relevant stats & stuff are now included in this part.)



The 14th Monthly Arbitrary Awards

Favourite Film of the Month
Although it has the shortest list of any month so far this year, it was a pretty strong one quality-wise — a ‘problem’ that afflicts both these first two categories, of course. Despite there being several strong contenders, I’m going to come down in favour of twisty, surprising neo-noir Cold in July.

Least Favourite Film of the Month
There were films this month that weren’t as great as I was hoping, to one degree or another (High-Rise, The Sting), and others that lived up to my moderate-to-low expectations just fine (American Ultra, Zoolander), but none that were outright bad. So the unlucky winner is Ten Little Indians, for being a word-for-word remake (of the ’60s version) that isn’t quite as good as its predecessor.

Most Blatant Author Surrogate of the Month
Jesse Eisenberg’s lead character in American Ultra feels like it’s just screenwriter Max Landis going, “hey, what if it turned out I was Jason Bourne…”

Film Most Deserving of a TV Spin-off Series of the Month
I know I already mentioned this in my review, but I really would devote some of my precious TV-viewing time to a Zootropolis Zootopia Zootropolis spin-off… if it was one of those kids’ shows that’s so well written it works for an adult viewer too, of course. I guess the detailed animation required to realise that world is cost-prohibitive to this ever happening, though.

The Audience Award for Most-Viewed New Post of the Month
A first, here: the most-viewed new post last month was the review of the month before that; i.e. The Independent Monthly Update for June 2016. Maybe it was my Brexit joke; maybe it was Deadpool; who can say?



This month: child hitmen, magical nannies, Shakespeare with big cats, and a really long walk to return some unwanted jewellery.


Summer! I hate summer. On the bright side, it means winter is coming… eventually…

2015 in Review, Part 1

As a wise man once said,

So this is Christmas
and what have you done?
Another year over,
and a new one just begun.

He may have been wise, but he clearly wasn’t so hot on timekeeping if he thinks the new year begins at Christmas…

Anyway, I’ve been quieter than intended this past week thanks to that unwellness I mentioned rumbling on, turning my efforts to reach #200 this year into a knock-down drag-out battle against both that and the sheer volume of worthwhile TV this year (if you’re one of the apparently-few who missed the Beeb’s classy three-part adaptation of Agatha Christie’s proto-slasher-movie And Then There Were None, may I recommend you rectify that).

Whether I achieved that double-sized goal or not will be revealed tomorrow in my December summary. As usual, over the next week-ish I’ll follow that up by looking back over the last year in two lengthy, information-and-excitement-filled posts. To start this year-in-review season, though, it’s WordPress’ auto-generated site-statistics-thing:

Here's an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 26,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 10 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Observations:

  • As well as the 248 new posts it mentions, the blog’s archive was further swelled by 272 reposts from 2007-2011.
  • My “posting patterns” are far, far more consistent than last year. So that’s nice.
  • I’ve noticed other people’s summaries include a bit on how many pictures they’ve uploaded. Mine doesn’t. I’m hard done by, I tell you!

Anyhow, thanks to everyone who’s read and/or commented here in 2015 — a Happy New Year to you all!

Ten Little Indians (1965)

2014 #105
George Pollock | 88 mins | TV | 1.85:1 | UK / English | 12

Ten Little IndiansAdapted from one of Agatha Christie’s best-regarded novels (now commonly known by its US title, And Then There Were None), Ten Little Indians sees a group of ten people invited to a remote location (in the book, an island; here, an alpine hotel) by a mysterious host, who doesn’t appear but does accuse them all of murder via a recorded message. Then, stranded, they begin to die one by one.

Also known as one of Christie’s bleakest books, this follows the track of most adaptations and uses the upbeat ending Christie herself wrote for a stage adaptation. Apparently other changes abound, with characters and their actions updated to have a more ’60s vibe. Novel purists may wish to avoid it. There’s also the ‘innovative’ addition of “The Whodunnit Break”, where the action pauses and a clock counts down for 60 seconds while a Creepy old house in the dark? Super.voiceover informs us this is our chance to have a guess. Ah, the ’60s.

Modified or not, the rest of the film remains full of the usual Christie antics — essentially, it’s one big puzzle. Whether it bears re-watching once the solution is known is probably down to the individual viewer, but Pollock and a decent cast make it an entertaining ride.

4 out of 5

Ten Little Indians is on Film4 tomorrow at 11am.