Friday, April 25, 2008

And Then There Were None (1945)

"Very stupid to kill the only servant in the house. Now we don't even know where to find the marmalade."
- Emily Brent (Dame Judith Anderson)

This 1945 oft-copied mystery set the bar for how to successfully film a whodunit, and includes suspense, intrigue, comedy, and even a little love story.

Eight guests and two hired helpers are invited/assigned to the sole house on an island, there to be accused of crimes and to be sentenced to death by their host, U. N. Owen (a code for ‘unknown’). In a plot structure oft-copied, they are killed off one-by-one by a seemingly hidden assassin. Each time someone dies, one of the ten Indian sculptures is removed from a table centerpiece. It’s sometimes hard to believe this movie was filmed in 1945. It contains quite a few techniques (like the characters looking at the camera) that must have been revolutionary, but are now passe. It also has a very low-key, offhanded mood that makes it feel more like a murder game than a real series of murders, especially since we never see any of the murders first-hand. Based on one of Agatha Cristie’s highest rated and most popular novels.  Rating: 2.75 of 4

"One of the supreme suspense films."
- Jeremy Heilman (

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