I enjoyed Rene Clair’s 1945 film version of my favourite Agatha Christie novel, And Then There Were None. The screenplay, by Dudley Nichols – who had previously been the first person to refuse an Oscar – was sound, despite a number of changes from the original.
The set-up is an absolute classic – eight people, along with two staff, are invited to a lonely island by a mysterious stranger. A disembodied gramophone recording accuses those present of having each been guilty of murder. And then, one by one, the guests themselves are murdered...
Apparently, some of the script changes were to fit with the Hays Code of morals on screen that was in force at the time. Christie’s story included a child murder committed by one of the guest, and such a crime was deemed beyond the pale. This plot point is an instance, by the way, of Christie’s work sometimes being darker than her critics tend to allow.
The big cop-out is the ending, which is much less sinister than the brilliant original (even if the original does require a lengthy written confession, a sign of structural weakness in most detective stories, but not here). However, I thought Clair and his cast did a pretty good job on the film and I was glad to catch up with it at long last. My third 'Christie for Christmas'!