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(aka "Ten Little Indians" or "Dix Petits Nègres" or "Ein unbekannter rechnet ab" or "...e poi non ne rimase nessuno" )

 

directed by Peter Collinson
France/Spain/West Germany/Italy 1974

 

Eight guests have been invited on various pretenses to a hotel in the middle of the Iranian desert by an unknown host who is absent from dinner (with a centerpiece of ten Indian statuettes). After dinner, a tape-recorded voice (Orson Welles) charges the guests (and the two servants) with crimes that have escaped prosecution. The notion that it is all a joke in bad taste are dispelled when the first guest drops dead of poisoning after admitting his guilt and one of the Indian statues disappear. Searching the hotel results in another death and another missing statue and it becomes apparent that their murderous host is one of the guests. Agatha Christie's source novel and play has not only spawned several adaptations and knock-offs (including a HOWLING sequel) and seems to be the basic template for the slasher genre with groups of people isolated, discovering deaths, accusing each other, grouping together then subsequently wandering off on their own to be killed, until the cast is whittled down to the final potential victim but the confrontation with the killer here is more genteel. The second of producer Harry Alan Towers' adaptations of the Agatha Christie play (which features a different ending from the novel) - the first being the Swiss-set 1965 adaptation with Hugh O'Brien and Shirley Eaton and the last being an African-set 1990 version for Cannon Films with Frank Stallone, Brenda Vaccaro, and Herbert Lom from the 1974 version), Peter Collinson's TEN LITTLE INDIANS lacks the glamour of the 1965 and 1945 monochrome versions (as fun as Oliver Reed and Elke Sommer usually are, they lack the chemistry of the earlier leads) and the ensemble cast in general while interesting seem impoverished compared to the "all star" casts of the Agatha Christie adaptations that followed Sidney Lumet's big-budget MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS (and even the witty "all star" B-movie ensemble of Radley Metzger's competing CAT AND THE CANARY) and most only just get by with their dignity intact. The Iranian location is interesting and atmospheric but we never really get the sense of a lurking presence and the film is well-photographed by Fernando Arribas and scored by an uncredited Bruno Nicolai (the score was recently released by Digitmovies in Italy) but Collinson fails to raise any the chills he managed with his earlier FRIGHT (whose stalked babysitter in a large house seems to have had a heavy influence on John Carpenter's HALLOWEEN). The cast try their best but the script just feels over-familiar.

Eric Cotenas

Posters

Theatrical Release: 23 April 1975 (USA)

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DVD Comparison:

Optimum - Region 2 - PAL vs. Artedis - Region 2 - PAL

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for all the Screen Caps!

(Optimum - Region 2 - PAL - LEFT vs. Artedis - Region 2 - PAL - RIGHT)

DVD Box Covers

 

 

Distribution

Optimum

Region 2 - PAL

Artedis
Region 2 - PAL
Runtime 1:34:18 (4% PAL speedup) 1:33:44 (4% PAL speedup)
Video

1.65:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.9 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1.80:1 Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.93 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

 

Optimum

 

Bitrate:

 

Artedis

 

Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono)

French (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono)

Subtitles none none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Optimum

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.65:1

Edition Details:
• Theatrical Trailer (16:9; 2:40)

DVD Release Date: 11 January 2010
Amaray

Chapters 12

Release Information:
Studio: Artedis

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.80:1

Edition Details:
• Theatrical Trailer (16:9; 4:10)

 

DVD Release Date:
Amaray

Chapters 12

 

Comments

The new Studio Canal-licensed transfer from Optimum presents the film on DVD in its English language version (the French DVD from Artedis had English opening and closing credits but its opening sequence had a different order of shots for no particular reason other than seemingly to begin the film with its opening credits instead of the atmosphere-establishing series of shots that are now positioned after the credits to lesser effect). The 1.66:1 anamorphic framing reveals vertical AND horizontal picture information and more pleasing picture quality but the film would likely have been screened theatrically in the UK at 1.75:1 and the US at 1.85:1 (the US tape release was horrendously cropped on all four sides) but looks far more cramped and soft compared to the new UK disc.

The Artedis disc is apparently also available as a bonus disc on a concert disc of co-star Charles Aznavour (who lip-syncs to "The Old Fashioned Way" here). Both are sparse on the extras front other than theatrical trailers. The trailer on the Optimum disc is the British trailer with the AND THEN THERE WERE NONE title (both discs have the onscreen TEN LITTLE INDIANS title) while the French disc has the longer Avco Embassy U.S. TEN LITTLE INDIANS trailer dubbed in French. A Spanish DVD was at one time available that likely featured the opening sequence featuring production quota appearances Rik Battaglia and Teresa Gimpera.

 - Eric Cotenas

 



DVD Menus
(
Optimum - Region 2 - PAL - LEFT vs. Artedis - Region 2 - PAL - RIGHT)
 

 


 

Screen Captures

(Optimum - Region 2 - PAL - TOP vs. Artedis - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 


(Optimum - Region 2 - PAL - TOP vs. Artedis - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 


(Optimum - Region 2 - PAL - TOP vs. Artedis - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 


(Optimum - Region 2 - PAL - TOP vs. Artedis - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 


(Optimum - Region 2 - PAL - TOP vs. Artedis - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 


(Optimum - Region 2 - PAL - TOP vs. Artedis - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 


(Optimum - Region 2 - PAL - TOP vs. Artedis - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 


 

Report Card:

 

Image:

Optimum

Sound:

Optimum

Extras: Optimum
Menu: Artedis

 
DVD Box Covers

 

 

Distribution

Optimum

Region 2 - PAL

Artedis
Region 2 - PAL


 

 




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