Ten Little Indians (1989 film)

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Ten Little Indians
Directed by Alan Birkinshaw
Produced by Harry Alan Towers
Written by Novel and stage play:
Agatha Christie
Jackson Hunsicker
Gerry O'Hara
Starring Donald Pleasence
Frank Stallone
Sarah Maur Thorp
Brenda Vaccaro
Herbert Lom
Warren Berlinger
Yehuda Elfroni
Paul L. Smith
Moira Lister
Neil McCarthy
Music by George S. Clinton
Cinematography Arthur Lavis
Edited by Penelope Shaw
Distributed by Cannon Films
Release dates
1989 (USA)
Running time
98 min.
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Box office $59,405[1]

Ten Little Indians is a 1989 mystery film, and the fifth screen adaptation (including the 1987 Russian version Desyat Negrityat) of Agatha Christie's famous novel. It was the third version to be produced by Harry Alan Towers, following his 1965 and 1974 adaptations.

In the opening credits, it is stated that this film is based on Christie's stage adaptation and makes no mention of the earlier novel, perhaps because the film's climax is taken almost verbatim from the stage script. (Other western adaptations, while all still using an upbeat finale, have significantly toned down the action-packed climax Christie used in the play.)

Harry Alan Towers commissioned the original script that used the novel's ending (in which Lombard gets shot and Vera hangs herself) and setting the action on an island.[citation needed] However, both of these were changed at the last minute. This version also introduced a lesbian affair. Herbert Lom, who plays the General here, previously starred in the 1974 version as Dr. Armstrong.

As of December 2013, this production has been released on VHS and laserdisc, but not yet on DVD.


A group of ten disparate people, strangers to each other, have all been summoned by a mysterious host named Mr. Owen to travel to Africa and join him on a safari he is hosting. Things turn ominous from the beginning, however. First their native guides abandon them, then more natives cut a bridge line across a deep ravine (their only way in and out of camp). As a result, the ten guests find themselves isolated in their hunting camp. In addition, their host, Mr. Owen, is strangely absent. Following their dinner, by means of a gramophone recording, an inhuman voice accuses each person of a murder that they each had caused and escaped justice. Events go from being unsettling to deadly when the guests start dying one by one in the fashion of the English Nursery Rhyme 'Ten Little Indians'. As each death occurs, the ten small Indian dolls that adorn the centre of the dining table disappear as each person dies which leads the guests to realize that they are being executed at the hands of a homicidal maniac among them - and that perhaps Mr. Owen is, in fact, one of them.

Cast and characters[edit]

  • Donald Pleasence — Mr. Justice Wargrave. Accused of having sentenced an innocent man, Edward Seton, to his death by hanging.
  • Frank Stallone — Captain Philip Lombard. Accused of being responsible for the deaths of twenty-one men, who were members of an East Indian tribe.
  • Sarah Maur Thorp — Vera Claythorne. Accused of being responsible for the drowning of her young charge, Cyril Ogilvie Hamilton.
  • Brenda Vaccaro — Marion Marshall. Accused of being responsible for the death of a fellow actress and lover, Miss Beatrice Taylor.
  • Herbert Lom — General Romensky. Accused of having intentionally sent his wife's lover, Heindrick Domarotsky, one of his junior officers, on a suicide mission during World War I.
  • Warren Berlinger — Mr. Blore. Accused of having given false testimony that sent an innocent man named Stephen Joseph Landor to prison, where he eventually died.
  • Yehuda Efroni— Dr. Werner. Accused of operating on a woman named Ursula Margaret Lisman while under the influence of alcohol, inadvertently leading to her death.
  • Paul L. Smith — Mr. Rodgers. Accused of conspiring with his wife to murder their invalid employer, Miss Jennifer Brady.
  • Moira Lister — Mrs. Rodgers. Accused of conspiring with her husband to murder their invalid employer, Miss Jennifer Brady.
  • Neil McCarthy — Anthony Marston. Accused of having run over a couple named John and Lucy Combes while driving under the influence of alcohol.


External links[edit]