Alternate title: Ten Little Indians
Ten people, each with something to hide, are invited to a lonely mansion on Indian Island by a host who, surprisingly, fails to appear. On the island they are cut off from everything but one another and the inescapable shadows of their own past lives.... read more
Eight people arrive at a mansion on Soldier Island (N*gger Island in the original UK version and Indian Island in the US version), located off the cost of Devon, England. Upon their arrival, their hosts, Mr. and Mrs. U.N. Owen, are nowhere to be found, but are attended to by the also newly... read more (warning: may contain spoilers)
Eight people arrive at a mansion on Soldier Island (N*gger Island in the original UK version and Indian Island in the US version), located off the cost of Devon, England. Upon their arrival, their hosts, Mr. and Mrs. U.N. Owen, are nowhere to be found, but are attended to by the also newly arrived servants, Mr. and Mrs. Rogers. As they settle into their rooms, they discover a framed copy of a nursery poem titled "Ten Little Soldiers" ("N*ggers" or "Soldiers" in previous editions).
That night at dinner, Mr. Rogers was instructed by a note to play a record on the gramophone, which details crimes the ten guests are accused of having committed. Each person present acknowledges some truth to the accusations, but refuses to admit culpability for the acts mentioned. Some of the guests express their intention to leave, but Mr. Rogers explains that the island is cut off from the mainland and a boat is not scheduled to arrive until the following morning. The guests decide to settle in for the night, and, during their conversations Anthony Marston, one of the guests, dies from cyanide poisoning, mimicking the first line in the nursery rhyme "one choked his little self." While cleaning up the super dishes, Mr. Rogers notices the one of the ten soldier figurines in the center of the dining room table has disappeared, correlating with Marston's death.
The next morning the guests are awaken by the news that Mrs. Rogers died during the night after being given a sleeping medicine by Dr. Armstrong, in accordance with the second verse of the nursery rhyme "one overslept himself." General MacArthur predicts that none of them will leave the island alive and, prophetically, is the next to die, being found dead overlooking the sea, again, according to the rhyme "one said he'd stay there." Mr. Rogers notices that, as the guests continue to die under mysterious circumstances, the figurines in the dining room also continue to disappear. In a panic, several of the remaining guests insist on searching the island for the killer they are sure is on the loose. Justice Magrave insists that one of them must be the murderer and is playing a game with the guests. He points out their mysterious host's name, U.N. Owen, being a homonym for Unknown.
The guests nervously go to bed that night and awake the next morning to discover that Mr. Rogers has been killed by an axe blow to the back of the head, "one chopped himself in halves" and another figurine is missing. That afternoon, before tea, Emily Brent is killed by a cyanide injection via a hypodermic needle in her neck ("a bumblebee stung one"), while a bee buzzes around the room and the figurine lies on the ground outside of the dining room window.
The remaining guest grow increasingly frightened and decide to lock up any remaining weapons in the house, including Justice Wargrave's sleeping pills, Dr. Armstrong's medical supplies, and Philip Lombard's gun, which has gone missing. They decide to stay together all day and only one person leaves at a time. Vera decides to go upstairs to her room to find seaweed hanging from the ceiling, reminding her of the accusations leveled against her by the gramophone earlier in the weekend. Her terrified screams bring Lombard, Blore, and Dr. Armstrong running to her aid. Realizing that Justice Wargrave did not follow them upstairs, they return to the drawing room to find him dead from a bullet wound to the forehead, dressed in judges robes and a wig, according to the nursery rhyme, "one got into Chancery." Dr. Armstrong confirms his death and his body is placed in his room, covered with a sheet. The four remaining guests retire to their rooms for another night on the island. Lombard opens his nightstand drawer and discovers that his revolver has been returned.
That night Blore believes he hears someone outside his door. Upon investigating, he believes he sees someone leaving the house. He wakes Lombard and they discover Dr. Armstrong missing. Believing that he must be the killer, they wake Vera and the three of them spend the rest of the night outside. In the morning, Blore decides to return to the house for food and never returns. Vera and Lombard discover his body under Vera's bedroom window, his skull crushed from the bear-shaped clock that sat on the mantle in Vera's bedroom, in accordance with the rhyme, "a big bear hugged one." Vera and Lombard then discover Dr. Armstrong's body washed up on the shore of the island, clearly drowned ("a red herring swallowed one"). Believing that he must be the murderer, Vera feigns a moment of weakness and takes the opportunity to steal Lobard's gun. She shoots him through the heart while on the beach ("sitting in the sun") and then, in an altered mental state, she proceeds back to her room where a hangman's rope awaits her ("went out and hanged himself").
Later, the Scotland Yard inspector in charge of the case, Inspector Maine, discusses the Soldier Island mystery with his Assistant Commissioner, Thomas Legge. He explains that there were no clues on the island, and the purchaser, Mr. U. N. Owen, covered his tracks impeccably, even ensuring the death of the man who arranged the purchase of the island. Based on diary entries and forensic evidence, they can't quite make out the order of deaths of Dr. Armstrong, Mr. Blore, Phillip Lombard, and Vera Claythorne. All of the evidence points to someone being alive on the island after their deaths, but the diary entries clearly list them as the last four individuals alive on the island.
A fishing trawler off the Devon coast discovers a bottle and inside, a confession. Justice Wargrave admits to having a sadistic temper and wanting to hurt people but never being able to bring himself to causing harm to an innocent person. After discovering that he was terminally ill, he decided to try to murder someone he thought was deserving of death. But he didn't want just any death. He wanted to inspire fear in his victims. He executed his plan, leaving those whom he considered to have committed the worst crimes to die last, reveling in their terror.
Wargrave convinced Dr. Armstrong to help him fake his death so that he could "better investigate" the others. That night he arranged to meet Dr. Armstrong by the coast, where he threw him onto the rocks to drown below. After killing Blore the next day, he watched as Vera killed Lombard and proceeded to hang herself. After pushing her chair back against the wall, he returned to his room and rigged a contraption which would allow him to shoot himself without handling the gun and, when the police arrived, they would find ten dead bodies and an "unsolvable" mystery on Soldier Island.
“There was a silence - an comfortable replete silence. Into that silence came the Voice. Without warning, inhuman, penetrating..."Ladies and gentlemen! Silence please!...You are charged with the following indictments."”Mr. U.N. Owen
“Mr. Owen could only come to the island in one way. It is perfectly clear. Mr. Owen is one of us.”Justice Wargrave
“People don't like a Coroner's Inquest, even if the Coroner did acquit me of all blame!”
“Oh, yes. I've no doubt in my own mind that we have been invited here by a madman--probably a dangerous homicidal lunatic.”
“There is no question of defence. I have always acted in accordance with the dictates of my conscience. I have nothing with which to reproach myself.”Emily Brent
“The legal life's narrowing! I'm all for crime! Here's to it.”
“"I have an uncontrollably romantic imagination"”U.N. Owen
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