Sunday, February 3, 2008
And Then There Were None
And Then There Were None (René Clair, 1945) Agatha Christie's classic (despite its racist name "Ten Little Indians" or its even more racist original name!) about a collection of disparate people gathered in a remote location and then picked off one by one is a staple of the mystery format. It's been directly adapted for the screen no less than nine times, and homaged endlessly on television (I can recall variations on "The Avengers" and "The Twilight Zone") as well as Neil Simon's encyclopedic send-up of the mystery genre "Murder By Death." This one precedes them all, and is probably the best of the bunch. With an all-star cast (for the 30's) and the nimble direction of René Clair (sadly unacknowldged these days, but he was a crafty film-maker--check out the sequence where some suspicious males start to eaves-drop on each other for clues that is as witty as it is intriguing) this adaptation of Christie's play (with an ending amended by Christie to make it more of a crowd-pleaser) is a fine study of upper class paranoia, with stand-out performances by Barry Fitzgerald, Walter Huston, Dame Judith Anderson and Mischa Auer.