And Then There Were None (1945)

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Released 28-Oct-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Mystery Menu Animation & Audio
Notes-The Film
Featurette-The Nursery Rhyme
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Gallery-3
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1945
Running Time 98:48
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Rene Clair
Studio
Distributor
Harry M. Popkin
Beyond Home Entertainment
Starring Barry Fitzgerald
Walter Huston
Louis Hayward
Case C-Button-Version 2-Opaque
RPI $19.95 Music Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.37:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    And Then There Were None is a black-and-white film based on a play called Ten Little Indians, which in turn was based on a book by Agatha Christie. The book was originally published as Ten Little Niggers but was retitled as And Then There Were None when issued in the US as the publishers deemed the original title offensive. There are several film versions (made in 1945, 1966, 1974 and 1989) and even several TV versions, but this is the first, directed by Rene Clair, and is generally considered the best.

    The beginning of the film shows eight people being taken on a boat to a small island with a large house. They have all been invited as guests by a mysterious Mr U. N. Owen, who none of them know personally.

    The eight guests are:

    At the house, they are welcomed by two staff - a butler called Rogers (Richard Haydn) and his wife (Queenie Leonard). As they settle down for dinner, the ghostly voice of Mr Owen accuses each of them of committing a crime. Since the circumstances of each crime is such that each of them is immune from prosecution under law, Mr Owen has taken it upon himself to serve justice to them in his own way.

    Fairly shortly thereafter, Mr Owen claims his first victim, the flamboyant Prince Starloff, who dies from a poisoned drink. Rogers the butler then discovers that one of the ten figurines of little Indians in the dining room is now broken. The group realizes that Mr Owen is serious and intents on killing each of them (including the butler and his wife), one by one, in accordance to the "Ten Little Indians" nursery rhyme.

    Initially, the group suspects that Mr Owen must be hiding somewhere on the island. They try to find him. After all efforts at uncovering him fail, they come to a far more sinister theory - that Mr Owen must be one of them. Can they use their wits to identify and subdue Mr Owen before he kills them all?

    This is one of Agatha Christie's best murder mysteries, and Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple are nowhere in sight. The plot is ingeniously constructed, and the film captures the atmosphere and tone of the book very well. The cast is excellent and each actor brings out his or her role to life very well. I preferred the ending in the book, but the film ending (which was penned by Agatha originally for the play version) is acceptable.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The transfer is presented in full frame with an aspect ratio of 1.37:1, based on a 35mm film print.

    Considering the age of the film print, the transfer isn't too bad. There are, of course, lots and lots of tiny film marks, but the overall transfer is still watchable. The look is slightly lacking in contrast and deep black levels, but acceptable.

     The opening titles display rather severe instances of telecine wobble (actually, more like the frame jumping from place to place to due damaged sprocket holes). Occasionally, there are vertical lines running through the film, and grain is present here and there but never at annoying levels.

    I also noticed reel change markings every 10-15 minutes or so.

    Unfortunately, there are no subtitle tracks.

    The transfer fits quite well into a single sided single layered disc. I did not notice any instances of compression artefacts.

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

Audio

    There is only one audio track: English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192kb/s). It is actually in mono.

    The quality of the audio track is similar to that of the video transfer. Although by no means perfect, the audio track is listenable and does not exhibit significant distortion or drop outs. Dialogue and background music can be a bit strident with midrange bloom.

    I did not have any difficulty understanding the dialogue. I also did not notice any audio synchronization issues.

    The background music consists of the the theme of the nursery song repeated over and over again, which can get rather annoying.

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

Extras

    I was pleasantly surprised to get any extras at all, so someone obviously likes this film a lot.

Menu

    Surprisingly, the menus are animated and include background audio. There are even menu transitions as the bonus features are selected.

Notes - The Film

    This is a set of four stills containing textual information entitled "From Book To Film". It provides some notes on the book, play and film versions of the story.

Featurette - The Nursery Rhyme (2:20)

    This consists of someone singing the nursery rhyme accompanied by the piano, together with excerpts from the film. A subtitle track is available which gives the text to the nursery rhyme. A warning screen is displayed when you select this menu item as the video reveals quite a lot of the deaths in the film.

Biographies - Cast & Crew

    This provides a single still containing a brief biography and mug shot of the following:

Gallery - 3

    This provides 3 sets of stills:

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on:

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on:

    My inclination would be to go for Region 4 due to slightly better extras.

Summary

    And Then There Were None is based on a murder mystery by Agatha Christie about ten people on an island who are being murdered one by one as justice for crimes they have committed. It is a black and white film dating from 1945.

    The video transfer quality is acceptable given the age of the film.

    The audio transfer quality is also acceptable.

    Extras are not substantial but pleasant nevertheless.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Christine Tham (read my biography)
Wednesday, November 27, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-626D, using Component output
DisplaySony VPL-VW11HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (254cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE (upgraded)
SpeakersFront and rears: B&W CDM7NT; centre: B&W CDMCNT; subwoofer: B&W ASW2500

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