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.