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I had forgotten that AND THEN THERE WERE NONE was such a fun movie, since I haven't been able to see it anywhere since I was in my early teens. Anybody remember the days when local television stations played old movies on a daily basis? Anyway, AND THEN THERE WERE NONE is based upon the well-known Agatha Christie novel TEN LITTLE INDIANS (a.k.a. TEN LITTLE NIGGERS). AND THEN THERE WERE NONE tells the tale of ten strangers that are brought together to spend a weekend at a house on an isolated island off the English coast. Since no one on the island knows anyone else, everyone is understandably curious about their host and the purpose the gathering. Everything becomes clear when the butler plays a recording that accuses each person in the house of a murder that he or she has gotten away with. Only after their numbers dwindle to eight to the remaining members of the group realize that none of them are expected to survive the weekend.

On the surface, AND THEN THERE WERE NONE would appear to be a straight who-done-it. However, the wonderfully witty screenplay is filled with humor that alleviates the tension, but never breaks the mood of the film. Director René Clair also uses a sly visual style to lighten the darker aspects of the story. AND THEN THERE WERE NONE also features a first rate cast that is headed up by a number of silver screen legends. Barry Fitzgerald, Walter Huston, Louis Hayward, Roland Young, C. Aubrey Smith, Judith Anderson, Richard Haydn and June Duprez are on the pedigree that certifies AND THEN THERE WERE NONE as a best of breed.

VCI Home Video has done a fairly respectable job of bringing AND THEN THERE WERE NONE to DVD. The black and white film element has a number of markings, yet it isn’t bad for a movie from 1945 that wasn’t maintained by a major studio. However, the black and white transfer seems to be a few years old and doesn’t show off the DVD format to its best advantage. The biggest problem is that AND THEN THERE WERE NONE is rather soft looking when compared to new transfers of classic movies. Now even though the level of detail isn’t what one expects from the DVD format, the image is still better than what one sees on VHS. Blacks are pretty faithful, and the picture offers fairly consistent level of contrast. There are no traces of digital compression artifacts on the DVD, although from the look of the disc and the slight pause that occurs during the film, I suspect that AND THEN THERE WERE NONE was given dual layer mastering.

The Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack is always intelligible, however a bit of age related noise creeps up here and there. Interactive menus are fairly basic, yet offer the standard scene selection feature, plus cast biographies. Also available through the menus is TWIN HUSBANDS, an amusing short subject starring Leon Errol.

VCI is a newcomer to the DVD arena and seems to be interested in giving consumers some bang for the buck. By offering both the feature and a short subject for $19.95, VCI outshine a number of the major studios. However, there is room for improvement. A new digital transfer of AND THEN THERE WERE NONE would have more than welcome, plus there is no chapter listing on the disc’s packaging (something I consider to be a big oversight). The listing is only available through the interactive menus. On the plus side, AND THEN THERE WERE NONE is somewhat DVD-ROM compliant by offering a link to its web site via the disc. I like what VCI is trying to do and hope that they will take this constructive criticism into account when planning future DVD titles.


And Then There Were None (1945)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 1999 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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