Mystery/Suspense


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And Then There Were None

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

And Then There Were None [Blu-ray]

Starring – Barry Fitzgerald (Judge Francis J. Quinncannon), Walter Huston (Dr. Edward G. Armstrong), Louis Hayward (Philip Lombard), Roland Young (Det. William Blore).

Released – October, 1945

Directed By – Rene Clair

Produced By – Rene Clair Productions

Distributed By – Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Description – On a stormy Friday a fishing boat has just docked to deliver its eight passengers to Indian Island just off the coast of Britain. The group are met by two domestic servants who themselves have yet to meet their employer.

All are there on the invitation of their host a Mr. U. N. Owen whose identity is a mystery. During that evenings dinner, still without the presence of Mr. Owen, the guests are intrigued by the centerpiece depicting the figures of ten little Indian boys.

To guest Vera Claythorne, the piece reminds her of the nursery rhyme where the ten little Indian boys are killed. Another guest, Thomas Rogers, places a record on the phonograph that contains a message from their host.

The group are shocked as they listen to the mysterious Mr. U. N. Owen accuse each of them of various crimes that have resulted in the deaths of others. Now, somewhat fearful, and realizing that the name of their host simply implies “unknown,” they all wish to leave the island immediately.

However, the next boat back to the mainland is not due until Monday. Suddenly, guest Prince Nikita Starloff collapses. Guest Dr. Armstrong tries to help only to discover that Starloff is dead as a result of poison. The Doctor also notices that the dining table centerpiece now has one broken little Indian boy.

Shaken, but with no other choice than to remain on the island, the group retire for the night. The morning brings with it another death as one of the domestic servants fails to awaken and has, in fact, died of a sedative overdose. There is another broken Indian in the centerpiece.

Eight guests and eight little Indian boys remain. Believing their host to be responsible for what is happening the group begins a desperate search for Mr. Owen. They find nothing, that is except for the body of guest General Sir John Mandrake with a knife sticking out of his back.

Another little Indian is down and it is obvious that someone plans on killing the guests off one by one. But who?

NOTABLE: The background stories behind each of the guests previous crimes was altered from the novel in order to comply with the Hays Code. In the novel, two of the guests were linked to crimes involving child murder and teenage pregnancy which, at this time, would be considered too improper for the viewing public.

Personal Note: This is my favorite adaptation of Agatha Christie’s best-selling mystery novel/play. Highly suspenseful, with a great script, and presented with a wonderful visual style and perfect atmosphere.

Saboteur

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

Saboteur [Blu-ray]

Tagline – You’d like to say – IT CAN’T HAPPEN HERE!… but every jolting scene is TRUE!!

Starring – Priscilla Lane (Patricia ‘Pat’ Martin), Robert Cummings (Barry Kane), Otto Kruger (Charles Tobin), Norman Lloyd (Frank Fry).

Released – April, 1942

Directed By – Alfred Hitchcock

Produced By – Frank Lloyd Productions, Universal Pictures

Distributed By – Universal Pictures

Description – World War II aircraft factory worker Barry Kane is set up for the factory fire that killed his best friend. The fire was an act of sabotage and Barry is on the run.

Piecing together the events that immediately preceded the fire has led Barry to believe the sabotage was caused by an apparent co-worker named Frank Fry. Barry now must cross the country in his effort to find Fry and clear his name.

In his search for Fry, Barry learns of an organization of fascist-supporting saboteurs that are led by the powerful, and seemingly respectable, Charles Tobin. Will Barry be able to elude the police long enough to prove his innocence and expose the real saboteurs?

Find out at the Statue of Liberty.

NOTABLE: Originally, Director Hitchcock wanted Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck to play the leads. However, due to budget restrictions, this was not possible. Although Hitchcock had to go with what was considered a “b-cast”, the film did very well at both the box office and with critics.

Castle in the Desert

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

Charlie Chan Collection, Vol. 5 (Charlie Chan At The Wax Museum/Murder Over New York/Dead Men Tell/Charlie Chan In Rio/Charlie Chan In Panama/Murder Cruise/Castle in the Desert)

Tagline – …a poison arrow whizzes past…as Charlie Chan opens the gate to his most baffling adventure!

Starring – Sidney Toler (Charlie Chan), Arleen Whelan (Brenda Hartford), Richard Derr (Carl Detheridge), Douglass Dumbrille (Paul Manderley).

Released – February, 1942

Directed By – Harry Lachman

Produced By –  Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Distributed By – Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Description – Charlie Chan arrives at the isolated Mojave Desert home of Paul Manderley and his wife, a descendant of the infamous Borgia family.

After the collapse and death of one of the Manderley’s other guests, Chan is asked to stay and investigate. Soon, other guests start to turn up dead. Is it just a strange coincidence, or an illness of some kind? Poison is more like it.

And if that’s not bad enough, all communication from the castle is cut off, strange shadows appear and disappear, and lets not forget the secret panels. It seems as though Chan has his hands full with this case.

NOTABLE: As the Charlie Chan detective series lost some of its luster with the passing of time, Castle in the Desert is generally considered to be one of the best of the later films.

This was the 30th of 47 Charlie Chan films to be made.