Ten Little Indians (1965 film)

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Ten Little Indians
TenLittleIndians1965Poster.jpg
UK release poster
Directed by George Pollock
Produced by Harry Alan Towers
Screenplay by Peter Welbeck
Peter Yeldham
Erich Kröhnke
Enrique Llovet
Based on And Then There Were None
by Agatha Christie
Starring Hugh O'Brian
Shirley Eaton
Fabian
Leo Genn
Stanley Holloway
Wilfrid Hyde-White
Daliah Lavi
Dennis Price
Marianne Hoppe
Mario Adorf
Music by Malcolm Lockyer
Cinematography Ernest Steward
Edited by Peter Boita
Production
company
Tenlit Films
Distributed by Warner-Pathé (United Kingdom)
Seven Arts (United States)
Release dates
June 1965
Running time
91 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English

Ten Little Indians (1965) is the second film version of Agatha Christie's detective novel of the same name.[1]

Although its background story is the same as the 1945 adaptation (And Then There Were None), with ten people invited to a remote location by a mysterious stranger, this one takes place on an isolated snowy mountain. The house used in the film was Kenure House in Rush, County Dublin, Ireland.[2] This version is also the first adaptation of the novel to show the murders on screen. Sir Christopher Lee (uncredited) provided the pre-recorded gramophone voice of "Mr. U.N. Owen".

Plot[edit]

Ten people travel by aerial tramway to a snowbound mansion, invited there by a Mr. U.N. Owen to spend the weekend. They discover that none of them has actually ever met Owen, including his secretary as well as a married housekeeper and cook, all hired through an agency.

Framed copies of the children's nursery rhyme "Ten Little Indians" are hung on the walls of each guest's bedroom. Dinner is served by the butler Grohmann on a tray adorned with ten little Indian figurines, as well. At exactly 9 p.m., as instructed, Grohmann switches on a hidden tape recording. A man identifying himself as Owen reveals that each of the 10 guests has a scandalous secret, their involvement in various innocent people's deaths.

One by one, the guests begin dying off. Mike Raven chokes after taking a drink and dies, and a little Indian from the centerpiece tray is broken away. In the morning, the cable tram is cut, killing the cook, Mrs. Grohmann who attempted to escape. General Mandrake conducts a search of the chalet's catacombs, splitting everyone into pairs, ultimately leading to his demise, stabbed after being led to a planted distraction (a cat). It becomes clear that their unseen killer is following the nursery rhyme. Ann Clyde, the secretary, enters into a romantic relationship with engineer Hugh Lombard as they and the others begin a deadly cat-and-mouse game, ultimately deducing that Owen is not their host but, in reality, one of them.

After falling under suspicion from the others, Grohmann attempts to make his escape down the mountain peak, Devil's Leap, ending in his death after his lifeline is severed with an axe. Ilona bitterly confesses to having drove her husband to suicide, and is later found dead in her bedroom, killed with a syringe. By now, the five remaining guests fall under distrust of one another, and alliances are formed as the generator shuts down, casting the mansion into total darkness. At dinner, each person reveals the nature of their accusations, but before Ann can attest to her crime, she separates from the group to her room, where she screams upon discovering an Indian decoy hung from the ceiling. In the confusion, Judge Cannon is found dead, shot in the head.

Dr. Armstrong intimates his suspicions of Ann, which Lombard angrily rebuffs. Lombard later comes to Ann's room and confides that his real name is Charles Morley, and that the real Lombard had committed suicide and he took his place for the weekend. Morley gives Ann his revolver for her protection. In the morning, Blore discovers that Armstrong has vanished and the three conduct a search for him. Blore separates and goes outside where he is crushed by a large statue of a bear. Ann and Lombard discover the body of Dr. Armstrong in the snow and conclude that the killer can only be either of them. Ann pulls the revolver on Lombard and shoots at him, before returning to the mansion. She goes upstairs and discovers Judge Cannon very much alive, who explains how he enticed Dr. Armstrong to help him fake his death and that he intends to poison himself leaving Ann the last remaining survivor, who must hang herself and fulfill the rhyme, or be punished by the law instead. As Judge Cannon is explaining his plan, Morley reappears alive, faking his death after the bullet missed. Ann and Morley had planned the fake shooting scene as they had figured out that neither one of them was the killer. Judge Cannon realizes his plan has failed, and Ann and Morley kiss in relief. They see the cat sitting among the fruit tray with only two Indians attached.

Alterations[edit]

This adaptation has been retooled to fit the attitude of the "swinging sixties," such as changing the character of the repressed spinster into a glamorous movie star, adding a lot more action to complement the mystery, a fight scene and even a sex scene. Other changes include William Blore not faking his identity as Mr Davis and essentially changing the backstories of most of the characters.

The ending was changed to a less pessimistic one, heavily borrowing from the upbeat finale Christie wrote for the stage version of the story, which was and remains completely at odds with the very downbeat ending of her original novel.

Cast[edit]

Actor/ Actress Character Occupation Killed Book character
Shirley Eaton Ann Clyde Secretary Richard Barclay (sister's fiancee) Vera Elizabeth Claythorne
Hugh O'Brian Hugh Lombard/Charles Morley Engineer Jennifer Hayes (lover) Philip Lombard
Stanley Holloway William Blore Detective James Landor (prison death due to perjured testimony) William Henry Blore
Dennis Price Dr. Edward Armstrong Doctor Ivy Benson (patient) Dr. Edward George Armstrong
Wilfrid Hyde-White Arthur Cannon Judge Edward Seton (defendant in a trial) Lawrence John Wargrave
Daliah Lavi Ilona Bergen Actress Mr. Bergen (husband) Emily Caroline Brent
Leo Genn Sir John Mandrake V.C. General Five soldiers (subordinates) John Gordon Macarthur
Fabian Michael "Mike" Raven Entertainer William and Liza Stern (car accident) Anthony James "Tony" Marston
Marianne Hoppe Elsa Grohmann Cook Countess Valenstein (employer) Ethel Rogers
Mario Adorf Joseph Grohmann Butler Countess Valenstein (employer) Thomas Rogers
Christopher Lee Voice of "Mr. U.N. Owen" (uncredited) N/A N/A Ulick Norman Owen

Later film versions[edit]

DVD[edit]

Ten Little Indians was released to DVD by Warner Home Video on March 14th 2006 as a Region 1 widescreen DVD and also recently by Warner Archive as a MOD (manufacture-on-demand) DVD available via Amazon.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ten Little Indians (1965), TCM.com; accessed 25 April 2016.
  2. ^ Hopper, Hedda. "Looking at Hollywood: Fabian Heads for Dublin to Make Mystery Film", Chicago Tribune, 24 March 1965, pg. B5.

External links[edit]