Skip to content

Ten Little Indians (1974)

No this isn’t the acclaimed 1945 version from director Rene Clair starring two of the great scene stealers of that decade in Barry Fitzgerald and Walter Huston, what it does represent to me is it’s the first filmed version of the Agatha Christie story I would see for myself thanks to the VHS age. And how about Herbert Lom and Sir Richard Attenborough for stealing scenes? They’re not to bad at it either.

herbert-lom-indians  attenborough-ten-little

Considering this is a Harry Alan Towers production, one shouldn’t write it off too quickly. He’s amassed a top notch crew of talented actors and a director who had already helmed the cult fave, The Italian Job. During the credits sequence, you’ll see a couple of names one often sees in Towers’ productions, his own alias Peter Welbeck as the screenwriter and his wife/actress, Maria Rohm as one of the featured players.

For the unaware, our tale is that of ten total strangers meeting at a secluded location where each has a secret to hide. “One by one we make our confessions.” Lom will be the first to point out. Their host is nowhere to be seen, yet the party members are slowly being killed off leaving those that remain to begin suspecting one another. The tension is set to rise.

tenlittleindians-one-sheet

Starring in this version of the Christie story is none other than the hell raiser supreme, Oliver Reed, who I would suggest was really at the height of his powers around the time of this film’s release. He and the other members of the cast are to arrive at a distant location as the credits roll. They are arriving at what is actually the shah abbas hotel in Iran which makes for a wonderful back drop as a secluded estate of the mysterious benefactor who has a voice that sounds a lot like Orson Welles once the plot begins to unwind for our unsuspecting guests by way of a phonograph recording. Joining Ollie along with Rohm, Lom and Attenborough are leading lady, Elke Sommer who will find a possible protector/lover in dear Ollie. Then there is Gert Froebe, Adolfo Celi, Charles Aznavour, Stephane Audran and Alberto de Mendoza.

elke-and-ollie2

I shouldn’t have to tell you the pecking order of just who is going to be killed first thru sixth. This is a matter of stardom, which aside from Janet Leigh in Psycho and most any Tarantino film, means that our leading players are going to be sitting across from one another in a North, South, East, West setting in the hotel lobby as their eyes dart back and forth between one another with their nerves on edge and only one of them packing a gun.

ten-little-indians-movie-lobby

It’s easy to assume we’ve all seen a variation of the solution that’s going to be exposed as the final scene approaches here but I’ll leave that for you to discover on your own. A double twist in store? Perhaps. Just don’t believe everything you see and hear and with the likes of Lom and Attenborough verbally sparring over which one might be the killer, it’s just plain fun.

Director Collinson would go on from here to work with leading man Oliver Reed twice more before passing away at only 44 years of age. They reunited on The Sell Out and Tomorrow Never Comes. His final film would be the next too last film as well for one of Hollywood’s most popular leading men, William Holden on their collaboration of The Earthling.

reed-and-elke

Anyone who frequents my “takes” on films and the history of movies should know that I’m a big supporter of Oliver Reed so it should come as know surprise that I often shake my head when seeing that many reviewers of a professional nature usually brush this version of the story aside. Don’t do it. With a cast of first rate performers as the center core of this production that utilizes the Spanish countryside for it’s exteriors, it has plenty to offer and enjoy.

Producer Towers surely loved this story as he put together three versions of the original story over the course of 24 years. The first effort came in 1965 with the likes of Hugh O’Brian, Fabian and Wilfrid Hyde-White while the 1989 VHS era version starred Donald Pleasence, Brenda Vaccaro and Herbert Lom. Yes, Herbert Lom making this his second appearance in the same Christie story. While Orson Welles offered up the unbilled phonograph recording in this version of the story, Christopher Lee fans take note that it is Lee’s baritone that gave us the reading in the ’65 version.

ten-little-indians-cast

For fans of the leading players and those that had a crush on the curves of Miss Elke, this one is worth seeking out.

11 Comments »

  1. Hm. I’m not sure I’ve seen this one. I know the Rene Clair version well (he’s a fave director of mine) and the 1965 version, and I’m kind of in awe of the 1987 Russian adaptation, Desyat Negrityat, but that’s about it. I must try to catch this. Thanks for the tantalizing account!

  2. Yes, this generally gets short shrift so well done for sticking up for it. Having said that, it’s not the movie of either the 1945 or 1965 versions (both of which I’d say I like equally well) and I think one of the big reasons for that, a few casting blips aside, is the location. The island and mountain-top of the previous adaptations just had something that couldn’t be replicated here.

      • I haven’t seen it but there was another small screen version in the UK last year done by, I think, the BBC. The setup hard to beat, much comes down to the execution, if you’ll pardon the expression!

  3. Wait, the curves of Elke Sommer? Count me in! Never saw this version, although I have seen the one from 1945, and I worked on the crew of one back in the 1990s, under an entirely different name, that (thankfully) never saw the light of day. Funny that Lom was in TWO versions…wonder how many times that’s happened!

      • I’ve always liked her in ‘A Shot in the Dark’…I thought she was as much fun as Peter Sellers was. And man oh man, do I have stories from that film shoot…I should probably do a post about it someday, so people know what I’m talking about. Thanks for the idea!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

"DESTROY ALL FANBOYS!"

Smashing System Bias Since 1972...

Movies ala Mark

With a Cast of Thousands

Classic Horrors

From silent screen to Halloween, and everything scary in between.

IDENTIKIT

The current online container for the writer Konrad Wardh

Just Hit Play

The Good, the Bad and sometimes Ugly in film

Strother Martin Film Project

What we've got here is failure to communicate

Sophia Riley Kobacker

it's all about the story, possums...

Wolfmans Cult Film Club

Cult, B-Movies, cheesy fun films to Film Noir to classics new to me.

Talking Pulp

All things pulp and then some

cinema cities

a personal odyssey through film

Mark David Welsh

Watching the strangest movies - so you don't have to...

Scenes from the Morgue

The Lost Art of Pulp Ads: Film, Booze, Smokes & More!

Film Speech

All things film and television

Diary of A Movie Maniac

A Personal Journey Through Cinema & Television

portraitsbyjenni

My perspective on life & Classic Movie Recommendations

Statis Pro 1978 Replay

Methodically replaying every game of the 1978 baseball season!

4 Star Films

Looking deeper at the best classic movies

everythingnoir

Movies, Television, Books....Everything Noir

Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd film locations (and more)

by John Bengtson "the great detective of silent film locations" New York Times

Sister Celluloid

Where old movies go to live

Silent-ology

Uncovering the silent era

Canadian Cinephile

"The only way to get rid of my fears is to make films about them." - Alfred Hitchcock

Noirish

The annex to John Grant's *A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Film Noir*

Cinema Monolith

Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.

Sunset Boulevard

Writings of a Cinephile

The Bogie Film Blog

A Film by Film Affair with Humphrey Bogart

Vienna's Classic Hollywood

Vintage Hollywood films and stars

The Film Authority

You're ten seconds from watching an amazing film...

Once upon a screen...

...a classic film and TV blog

shadowsandsatin

. . where the worlds of film noir and pre-code collide . .

hitchcockmaster

Where Suspense Lives!

Tipping My Fedora

Enjoying mystery, crime and suspense in all media

Silver Screenings

an irreverent blog of old movies

monsterminions

They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To

Comet Over Hollywood

Home for classic movie lovers

filmgeek101

classic movie views for the classic and not-so-classic movie fan

Riding the High Country

Reviews and ramblings

Speakeasy

watching movies

"DESTROY ALL FANBOYS!"

Smashing System Bias Since 1972...

Movies ala Mark

With a Cast of Thousands

Classic Horrors

From silent screen to Halloween, and everything scary in between.

IDENTIKIT

The current online container for the writer Konrad Wardh

Just Hit Play

The Good, the Bad and sometimes Ugly in film

Strother Martin Film Project

What we've got here is failure to communicate

Sophia Riley Kobacker

it's all about the story, possums...

Wolfmans Cult Film Club

Cult, B-Movies, cheesy fun films to Film Noir to classics new to me.

Talking Pulp

All things pulp and then some

cinema cities

a personal odyssey through film

Mark David Welsh

Watching the strangest movies - so you don't have to...

Scenes from the Morgue

The Lost Art of Pulp Ads: Film, Booze, Smokes & More!

Film Speech

All things film and television

Diary of A Movie Maniac

A Personal Journey Through Cinema & Television

portraitsbyjenni

My perspective on life & Classic Movie Recommendations

Statis Pro 1978 Replay

Methodically replaying every game of the 1978 baseball season!

4 Star Films

Looking deeper at the best classic movies

everythingnoir

Movies, Television, Books....Everything Noir

Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd film locations (and more)

by John Bengtson "the great detective of silent film locations" New York Times

Sister Celluloid

Where old movies go to live

Silent-ology

Uncovering the silent era

Canadian Cinephile

"The only way to get rid of my fears is to make films about them." - Alfred Hitchcock

Noirish

The annex to John Grant's *A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Film Noir*

Cinema Monolith

Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.

Sunset Boulevard

Writings of a Cinephile

The Bogie Film Blog

A Film by Film Affair with Humphrey Bogart

Vienna's Classic Hollywood

Vintage Hollywood films and stars

The Film Authority

You're ten seconds from watching an amazing film...

Once upon a screen...

...a classic film and TV blog

shadowsandsatin

. . where the worlds of film noir and pre-code collide . .

hitchcockmaster

Where Suspense Lives!

Tipping My Fedora

Enjoying mystery, crime and suspense in all media

Silver Screenings

an irreverent blog of old movies

monsterminions

They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To

Comet Over Hollywood

Home for classic movie lovers

filmgeek101

classic movie views for the classic and not-so-classic movie fan

Riding the High Country

Reviews and ramblings

Speakeasy

watching movies

%d bloggers like this: