Dame Agatha Christie, of course! Here in our latest series of blog posts saluting the talented and prolific films based on the novels of Mrs. Christie, this time we’re watching one of our favorites, Ten Little Indians, the 1965 version (1966 in some posts). Our favorite brother act, The Popkin Brothers, (Impact; D.O.A.) again produced the film, along with co-producer Harry Alan Towers (who deserves an article or even a book, but that, too, is another story). We’ve watched and enjoyed the 1945 version, And Then There Were None, but this time, Mrs. Christie’s chilling tale gets even more exciting, thanks to screenwriters Peter Yeldham and Towers himself, under the nom de plume “Peter Welbeck”; talk about a man of many faces!
George Pollock, who directed the delightful Miss Marple films starring Margaret Rutherford, blends suspense, action, humor and sexy romance with this swell cast, produced by Harry Alan Towers, who also had the rights to Ten Little Indians:
- Leo Genn (Oscar-nominee for Quo Vadis; The Snake Pit
- Daliah Lavi (Casino Royale; The Silencers)
- Dennis Price (Kind Hearts and Coronets; I’m All Right, Jack
- Fabian (The Longest Day; North to Alaska
- Shirley Eaton (Goldfinger; The Girl Hunters
- Wilfrid Hyde-White (The Third Man; My Fair Lady)
- Hugh O’Brian (The Shootist; TV’s Wyatt Earp)
- Stanley Holloway (The Lavender Hill Mob)
- Marriane Hoppe (The Wrong Move; Romance in a Minor Key)
And *Mario Adorf (The Tin Drum; The Bird with the Crystal Plumage)
|Similarities between the two film versions |
abound, like this "keyhole" shot!
With all the Currier & Ives-style winter wonderland atmosphere, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas — except that nobody knows each other, not even hired secretary Ann Clyde (Eaton). Leave it to a movie star to break the ice, namely renowned actress Ilona Bergen (Lavi):
“How utterly marvelous! You all came to a house party without knowing your host!”
Hugh: “Well, what about you, Miss Bergen?”
Ilona: “Darling, it happens to me all the time!” (Oh, those jaded jet-setters!
Our absent host U.N. Owen takes his sweet time showing up; what would Miss Manners say? Luckily, Judge Cannon (Hyde-White) has a toast for the occasion: “To absent friends, the ten little Indians, and of course, our host.” Keep an eye on your guests, you guys and gals; they might not stay very long, and not just because they’re jet-setters! Soon a chilling, unknown voice breaks the ice with a series of accusations about the guests and the murders in their pasts. The unknown "U.N. Owen (gotta hand it to the fiend, he (or she?) sure has a great sense of gallows humor!
|"We've gotta have a romance, by George!"|
Fun Fact: The mysterious U.N. Owen’s sinister voice was played by the one and only Christopher Lee!
Our stranded guests finally let their fair down and admit their crimes: General Mandrake sent five men to their deaths to in what turned out to be a tragic blunder, but was decorated anyway; the Grohmanns were accused of a mercy killing by their elderly charges. Ilona had been a British Army Officer’s wife, bored but sticking with him until she finally got a chance to get a screen test, then blowing that Popcicle stand and propelling herself to stardom—and when she dumped her sad hubby, he killed himself in despair, the poor guy. She does seem to have some remorse, though my cynical side has me thinking she was more sorry for herself than anything else. Mandrake knew all about her because Ilona’s husband had been Mandrake’s superior! News travels fast in a snowbound Château! Judge Cannon had convicted a truly evil man, one Edward Seton, including other wicked things he’d done to save time; there’s multitasking for you! And then there was Dr. Armstrong, living (but not for long) while he was literally drinking and driving while drunk, resulting in a killing a young couple. And the body count begins...
|Hugh and Grohmann get ready to RUMBLE!|
Personally, I’d like to think the great William Castle is watching this in Heaven and grinning from ear to ear!