This was the second of three versions of Christie's novel to be adapted to the screen by producer Harry Alan Towers; the aforementioned 1965 version, this one made in 1974, and another in 1989.
It follows the script of the 1965 version, right down to calling the Oliver Reed character "Hugh" (a name change made to accommodate Hugh O'Brian in the earlier version) instead of "Phillip," which was character's name in the novel and play.
This particular adaptation is set in an abandoned hotel in the Iranian desert; the film was shot in the Shah Abbas Hotel (now known as the Abbasi Hotel) in Iran during its pre-revolution days. (The 1965 version was set at a snowed-in mountain chalet, and the 1989 one in the African savanna.)
The film is an hour and thirty-eight minutes long, and was the first version of the novel to be filmed in colour.
Some versions of the film feature a pre-credit sequence that shows the guests arriving by plane at an airport in Iran, where they subsequently board a helicopter to be transported to the hotel. This prologue was cut from the U.S. release.
Herbert Lom, who plays Dr. Armstrong here, also starred in the 1989 version as the General.
Both Adolfo Celi and Gert Froebe had already played villains in the James Bond series.
Charles Aznavour was allowed to sing his signature song, The Old Fashioned Way, and the film uses the standard recording of it, which leaves the audience to wonder where the orchestral back-up behind him is coming from.
Orson Welles is heard as the voice of the mystery man "U.N. Owen," though unlike the 1965 version, for which Christopher Lee played "Owen" anonymously, Welles received full screen credit.
In the opening credits, the screenplay is credited only to "Peter Welbeck" (a pseudonym of producer Towers), but the IMDB attributes the script to Welbeck, Erich Krohnke, and Enrique Lovet. The film was directed by Peter Collinson.
The plot is essentially the same as the novel during the first part, though some of the characterisations are based more closely on the script of the 1965 film. However, the ending is completely different. Another departure from Christie's text is that this time the action takes place not on a deserted island, but in an isolated hotel in Iran.
A group of 10 people, strangers to one another, have all traveled to a hotel located deep in the deserts of Iran. Upon arrival they discover that their host is mysteriously absent. They are accused via a tape recording by the host, U.N. Owen, someone none of them has ever met, of having committed various crimes in the past which went unpunished by the law.
As guests start to die, the remainder deduce that their unseen host is determined to murder them all. Since a search proves that there is no one hiding, they realize that the murderer must be one of them.
Cast & CharactersEdit
- Charles Aznavour as Michel Raven, entertainer. Raven is accused of having run over two people in Paris while driving under the influence of alcohol.
- Stéphane Audran as Ilona Morgan, actress. Ilona is accused of having been responsible for the death of her husband.
- Elke Sommer as Vera Clyde, secretary. Mr. Owen accuses her of having murdered her sister's fiancé.
- Gert Fröbe as Wilhelm Blore, police official. Accused of committing perjury to frame an innocent man, who subsequently died in prison.
- Herbert Lom as Edward Armstrong, doctor. Accused of having operated on a woman while drunk, inadvertently causing her death.
- Oliver Reed as Hugh Lombard, businessman. Accused of murdering the young woman who was to bear his child out of wedlock.
- Richard Attenborough as Arthur Cannon, judge. Accused by Mr. Owen of having sentenced an innocent man to death by hanging.
- Orson Welles as "U.N. Owen" — the Voice on the Tape
- Maria Rohm as Elsa Martino, servant. Accused of causing the death of her invalid employer, assisted by her husband.
- Alberto de Mendoza as Otto Martino, servant. Accused of helping his wife murder their invalid employer.
- Adolfo Celi as André Salvé, military general. Accused of having been responsible for the deaths of five men who were under his command.