First edition
First US edition, 1940

And Then There Were None

Also called Ten Little Indians
Novel, 1939
approx. 53,500 words

And Then There Were None

THE NOVEL | THE TEXT | THE MOVIES

Movies: 1945, 1959, 2015

The bodies keep dropping

Ten Little Indians (1959): Directors Paul Bogart, Philip F. Falcone, Leo Farrenkopf, Dan Zampino; writer Philip H. Reisman Jr.; featuring Barry Jones, Romney Brent, Nina Foch, Peter Bathurst, Kenneth Haigh, Valerie French

The next noteworthy adaptation of And Then There None, released on video under the novel's older title of Ten Little Indians, is hard to find, though you might discover a poorly preserved copy in the banks of some low-end streaming service.

This is an early, supposedly live production for British TV on a Play of the Week program. (The episode was actually broadcast with Christie's original racist title.)

It looks and sounds like a 1950s television drama. Stagey, with extended camera shots, hollow-sounding dialogue well projected, and melodramatic orchestration swooping in whenever needed to underline the drama.

And rushed. The whole show takes less than an hour. Within minutes of the company arriving on the island, the bodies are falling and they continue dropping at a dizzying rate.

I'm not sure why four directors are listed for such a brief and furious production, though main credit is usually given to Paul Bogart, an American director and producer best known for his later work on hit U.S. sitcoms.

Yet Ten Little Indians is a pretty faithful and well-acted encapsulation of the story. It's a credit to the director(s) and actors, a respected though likely unfamiliar theatrical lot, that they manage to pull it off live without obvious mistakes and make the impact they do with such short screen time.

The speed also brings the advantage that viewers don't have time to dwell on the plot improbabilities.

Again Christie's happier ending is used, although this time more energetically—involving the revealed villain attacking the person he thinks is his final victim and being shot.

This is one of the least known adaptations of Christie's novel—more an adaptation of her play actually—but worth a look for anyone who just wants to get the gist of the story without wasting time on contrived atmospherics.

— Eric

THE NOVEL | THE TEXT | THE MOVIES

Movies: 1945, 1959, 2015