Ten Little Indians (1965)

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Released 26-Jul-2005

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Mystery Trailer-Dragonwyck, The Innocents
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1965
Running Time 87:35
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By George Pollock
Studio
Distributor
Tenlit Films
Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Hugh O'Brian
Shirley Eaton
Fabian
Leo Genn
Stanley Holloway
Wilfrid Hyde-White
Daliah Lavi
Dennis Price
Marianne Hoppe
Mario Adorf
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $19.95 Music Malcolm Lockyer


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures Yes
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    There have been at least four film adaptations of this story by Agatha Christie. The original novel was titled Ten Little Niggers, though it was later changed for obvious reasons. It was adapted for the stage with a changed ending, and it is this play that forms the basis for all of the screen adaptations. Until now, this version was one that I had not seen.

    The story concerns ten people who have been summoned by various ruses to the home of a Mr Owen, whom we never see. In this film they are isolated in a large house positioned on a snow-covered mountain. The only access is via cable car.

    Over dinner the tape-recorded voice of Mr Owen is heard, charging each of the attendees with having committed a murder, and for which justice is going to be dealt. Each room has a copy of the nursery rhyme about the ten little Indians, and the cast begin to die in ways indicated by that rhyme. But who is the murderer?

    The first version of this film, And Then There Were None (1945), is generally regarded as the best. Unfortunately it seems to be in the public domain, and available copies that I have seen were in poor condition. A later film version from 1975 is quite dire, and I approached this one with similar expectations. While not a superior thriller, this one is quite good and kept my interest throughout. It is competently made and reasonably believable.

    It has an international cast, but as a British production this means one minor American star (Hugh O'Brian), one minor international star (Daliah Lavi), one minor British star (Shirley Eaton), one pop singer (Fabian), a couple of past and present German stars (Marianne Hoppe and Mario Adorf), a couple of British stars in the twilight of their careers (Dennis Price, Leo Genn) and two dependable British character players (Wilfred Hyde-White and Stanley Holloway). The acting ranges from terrible (Fabian, but fortunately he is the first to die) to mediocre (Lavi, Eaton and O'Brian) to good (Hyde-White and Holloway).

    The film also includes a "whodunit break" of about two minutes towards the end of the film, in order to give the audience the chance to guess who the real killer is. The one clue I will give is that it is not Mr Owen, whose voice on the tape recorder is instantly recognisable as that of Christopher Lee. He is a red herring, of which this film has several.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is transferred in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. According to the IMDb, the original aspect ratio was 1.66:1. I can't see too much in the way of cropping, but the narrower aspect ratio would be the more likely.

    The transfer of this black and white movie is not good. It is sharp and has some detail, but a lot of detail is lost due to the poor contrast. Whites are excessively bright, which robs faces of detail and definition. Anything remotely dark has become solid black and thus shadow detail is dismal. A pity because it looks as though it could have been a lot better.

    The transfer also suffers from edge enhancement and some aliasing. There are numerous film artefacts, ranging from flecks and minor damage to dust and dirt.

    The disc is single-layered and there are no subtitles.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The sole audio track is Dolby Digital 2.0 mono.

    The audio transfer suffers from excessive sibilance, which I found quite annoying. Apart from that there is little in the way of distortion or hiss, probably because it was the digital clean-up process that caused the sibilance in the first place. Dialogue is quite clear throughout, and apart from the above problem this is a standard mono transfer.

    The music score is by Malcolm Lockyer. It works well within the confines of the film but is otherwise undistinguished. Fabian briefly sings the nursery rhyme, but thankfully not long after this he is put out of our misery.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Trailers-Dragonwyck, The Innocents (3:47)

    Just the two trailers for other releases from this outfit.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    As far as I can tell this film has not been released on DVD in any other English-speaking country. There is a Region 2 release from Germany, but I have not found any reviews of it in English.

Summary

    Not a bad adaptation of this Agatha Christie whodunit.

    The video quality is below average.

    The audio quality is acceptable but excessively sibilant.

    The are no significant extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

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