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March 12, 2016

My first Golden Oldies column was an homage to what I believe to be the greatest mystery novel ever–And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie.  I rate it at the top because, as I said in my February 18, 2011 column, I’ve read it numerous times and still can’t find the clues to the murderer amidst all the red herrings Mrs. Christie so temptingly lays out for us.  Of course I know who committed the crimes, but I try to read it each time as if it were new to me, and I’m puzzled every time.

I’m writing about it again because the Lifetime channel is showing a two-part adaptation of And Then There Were None that airs Sunday and Monday nights.

The 1945 English film, which I’ve seen, was true to the novel until the last scene.  When the book was adapted for London’s West End in 1943, Ms. Christie and the producers agreed to change the book’s original ending to make it less grim, and the film used that ending.   Just goes to show you that even “geniuses” can make mistakes.

Interestingly, the book’s history is almost as complex as the book’s plot.  It was originally published in November of 1939 in Britain under the title Ten Little N——, a word that did not have the same racist connotations in England as it did in the United States.  When it was published in the U.S. a month later, the title was changed to And Then There Were None and still later to Ten Little Indians.

In its other incarnations, it has been a radio play, a board game, a television series, and a graphic novel.  It has sold over 100 million copies, making it the best-selling mystery novel in history and the seventh best-selling book in all publishing history.  In addition to being translated into all the “usual” languages (French, Spanish, Italian, etc.), it’s also available in Ukrainian, Thai, Icelandic, Basque, and Bengali, plus dozens more!

So of course I’m very eager to see the 2015 BBC version that will be on Lifetime.  For more information about the film and Agatha Christie’s career, go to  And happy watching.


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