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And Then There Were None (1974)

Agatha Christie’s best-selling 1939 mystery novel, And Then There Were None had previously been filmed in 1965 as Ten Little Indians.

This 1974 film adaptation – with dialogue taken almost word for word from the 1965 version- featured an all-star cast including Charles Aznavour, Elke Sommer, Gert Fröbe, Herbert Lom, Richard Attenborough, Oliver Reed and Orson Welles.

A group of ten people, strangers to one another, travel to an abandoned hotel located deep in the deserts of Iran. Upon arrival, they discover that their host is mysteriously absent. At dinner, they notice a display of figurines – the ’10 little Indians’ described in the doggerel in each of their suites.

The group are accused via a tape recording by their host, U.N. Owen (“unknown”) – someone none of them has ever met – of having committed various crimes in the past which went unpunished by the law.

Entertainer Michel Raven (Aznavour) is accused of having run over two people in Paris while driving under the influence of alcohol; actress Ilona Morgan (Stéphane Audran) of having been responsible for the death of her husband; Secretary Vera Clyde (Sommer) of having fatally poisoned her sister’s fiancé; private eye Wilhelm Blore (Fröbe) of committing perjury to frame an innocent man who subsequently died in prison; Dr Edward Armstrong (Lom) of having operated on a woman while drunk, causing her death; businessman Hugh Lombard (Reed) of murdering the young woman who was to bear his child out of wedlock; Judge Arthur Cannon (Attenborough) of having sentenced an innocent man to death by hanging; servants Elsa (Maria Rohm) and Otto Martino (Alberto de Mendoza) of causing the death of their wealthy, invalid employer after tricking her into including them in her will; and General André Salvé (Adolfo Celi) of causing the deaths of five men under his command.

One by one, the guests start to die. Michel Raven is poisoned, Elsa Martino is strangled and General Salve is stabbed to death in the hotel’s catacombs.

It appears they are alone in the desert – therefore the killer in their midst must be one of them.

The next morning, Otto Martino attempts to escape into the desert, only to expire from heat and exhaustion as his survival kit had been sabotaged. Ilona reveals her tragic past to the others, exposing the cause of her husband’s suicide, and is later found dead, having been bitten by a venomous snake.

The lights short out, leaving the five remaining guests in the dark. During dinner, they all reveal the nature of the crimes they stand accused of. Shortly thereafter, Judge Cannon is found dead in his bedroom, shot in the head.

Dr Armstrong suspects Vera, who is locked in her room.

During the night, Hugh Lombard visits Vera and gives her his gun, revealing that he is, in fact, called Charles Morley (the real Lombard had committed suicide and Charles took his place). In return, Vera confesses that she did not poison her sisters’ beau and was actually secretly covering up for her mentally ill sister.

In the morning, Dr Armstrong is nowhere to be found and a search of the ruins leads to Wilhelm Blore being pushed to his death from a ledge. Vera and Morley then find the body of Dr Armstrong in the ruins and realise they are the only two remaining.

Vera shoots at Morley and returns to the hotel where she finds all the furniture sheeted up once more, except for a chair with a noose above it.

She also finds Judge Cannon – still alive – who reveals how he tricked Dr Armstrong into helping him fake his “murder” and how he wanted to seek justice and perform his duty as an executioner of the guilty.

The Judge tries to convince Vera to hang herself to avoid being executed as a murderer (being the last remaining person alive at the hotel). He then drinks poison and prepares to die, to fulfil his scheme.

At that moment, Morley appears before him (still alive) and Cannon chokes on the poison, realising his plans have been foiled.

Vera and Morley are picked up by a helicopter as the tape recording (voiced by Orson Welles) is replayed.

Released in some markets as Ten Little Indians.

Michel Raven
Charles Aznavour
Ilona Morgan
Stéphane Audran
Vera Clyde
Elke Sommer
Wilhelm Blore
Gert Fröbe
Dr Edward Armstrong
Herbert Lom
Hugh Lombard/Charles Morley
Oliver Reed
Judge Arthur Cannon
Richard Attenborough
Elsa Martino
Maria Rohm
Otto Martino
Alberto de Mendoza
General André Salvé
Adolfo Celi
U.N. Owen
Orson Welles

Peter Collinson