Tuesday, March 8, 2016

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Casting Coup Tuesday: And Then There Were None

And Then There Were None is one of Agatha Christie's most famous works -- I reckon Murder on the Orient Express and Witness for the Prosecution are the only other ones as immediately recognizable. It has been the basis for two stage plays, a mini-series, multiple films, and infinite spoof episodes on television (even Family Guy did a season premiere called "And Then There Were Fewer").
The 1945 film version
The plot: ten strangers are invited to an island by a mysterious U.N. Owen. A recording is played during dinner, accusing each of them of various crimes. Then they start dropping off one by one, their deaths aligning with a nursery rhyme called...well that depends on the latest publication. Current editions have it as "Ten Little Soldier Boys" ... for years it was "Ten Little Indians" ... first editions have it as "Ten Little N---ers", and that was quickly amended.

There are three famous film versions, all of which take their queue from Agatha's own stage adaptation. The 1945 version features an all-star cast that includes Academy Award Winners Barry Fitzgerald and Walter Huston, and Academy Award Nominees Mischa Auer, Roland Young and Judith Anderson. It adheres closely to the original work -- they're all English, they're on an island. The next two films would not.

The 1974 film version
In 1965, things got groovy and international. The new ensemble of ten came from everywhere -- a Bond Girl, an American pop star, an Israeli beauty queen -- but still a majority English, all gathered in a castle atop the Swiss Alps. The same producers remade the picture, practically word-for-word, in 1974, moving to a hotel in Iraq! The ensemble comes from Italy, Germany (2), Austria, France (2), the United Kingdom (3), Argentina.

The 2015 BBC version
Last year, the BBC presented a three-part mini-series that brought things back to the art deco island. It, too, was a starry cast that included Toby Stephens and Charles Dance, and focused much more on the effects of war. But frankly, I've always liked the idea of an international who's who getting bumped off one by one. And so I've used that approach when casting my own Ten Little...People.

After the jump...

The original novel: Anthony Marston, accused of drunkenly killing two children with his car.

The movies: Always sings the nursery rhyme at the piano. Prince Nikita Starloff (Mischa Auer) is accused of killing a couple. Pop star Mike Raven (Fabian). Lounge singer Michel Raven (Charles Aznavour).

I would keep to the pop star aspect, let him sing the song on the piano. And since we're getting international, let's get really international, make him one of those C-pop/K-pop stars, renaming the character Jun Hwaseong.

My Choice:
Nichkhun (Ouran High School Host Club: The Movie, Forever Young)
One of the six members of K-pop group 2PM, born in the United States, of Chinese-Thai heritage. A very international choice.

The original novel: Ethel Rogers, accused of killing a former employer with her husband.

The movies: The same in the original film with Queenie Leonard. Frau Grohmann (Marianne Hoppe) commits the same crime. Ditto Elsa Martino (Maria Röhm).

In 2016, I'm renaming her Evita Rogelio.

My Choice: Academy Award/Golden Globe/SAG Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actress, SAG Award Nominee for Best Ensemble (Babel)

Adriana Barraza ("The Strain", The 33)

The original novel: General Macarthur, accused of sending his wife's lover to his death.

The movies: General Sir John Mandrake (C. Aubrey Smith) gets a little dithery when he's accused of the same crime. General Mandrake (Leo Genn) and General Andre Salve (Adolfo Celi) are take-charge types who organize a search party....they are also accused of negligence in their duties, sending their men to their deaths.

In 2016, may I present to you General Jiro Murakami.

My Choice: Academy Award/Golden Globe/SAG Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actor (The Last Samurai)

Ken Watanabe (Godzilla, The Sea of Trees)

The original novel: Thomas Rogers, who, with his wife, is accused of murdering a former employer.

The movies: The motive never changes, whether his name is Rogers (Richard Haydn), Grohmann (Mario Adorf) or Otto Martino (Alberto de Mendoza). Haydn gets roaring drunk, Adorf gets into a fist fight, and Martino actually tries to make an escape.

In 2016, we meet Evita's husband, Tomas Rogelio.

My Choice: Academy Award/SAG Award Nominee for Best Actor (A Better Life)

Demián Bichir (The Hateful Eight, "The Bridge")

The original novel: Spinster and religious fanatic Emily Caroline Brent, accused of the death of her young charge.

The movies: Emily Brent (Judith Anderson) is accused of causing her nephew's death. Famous film stars Ilona Bergen (Daliah Lavi) and Ilona Morgan (Stephane Audran) are accused of killing their husbands.

In 2016, she is Italian, older -- a mix of the haughty Emily and the glamorous Ilona. Emilia Baldacci, maybe?

My Choice: Academy Award Winner for Best Actress (Two Women), BAFTA Award Winner for Best Foreign Actress (Two Women), SAG Award Nominee for Best Ensemble (Nine)

Sophia Loren (Marriage Italian StyleReady to Wear)

The original novel: Justice Lawrence Wargrave, accused of sentencing an innocent man to hang.

The movies: Same accusation, new name: Judge Francis J. Quincannon (Barry Fitzgerald), Judge Cannon (Wilfrid Hyde-White), Judge Arthur Cannon (Richard Attenborough)

In 2016 -- still English, but there's no need for this "Cannon" nonsense. I'm bringing back Sir Lawrence John Wargrave.

My Choice: Hollmann Award Nominee for Best Actor (Get CarterThe Man Who Would Be King) and Best Supporting Actor (Zulu), Academy Award Winner for Best Supporting Actor (Hannah and Her Sisters, The Cider House Rules), BAFTA Award Winner for Best Actor (Educating Rita), Golden Globe Winner for Best Actor - Musical/Comedy (Educating Rita, Little Voice), SAG Award Winner for Best Supporting Actor (The Cider House Rules)

Michael Caine (Youth, Going in Style)

The original novel: Dr. Edward Armstrong, accused of bringing about the death of a patient due to drunkenness.

The movies: The same, in name and crime, played by Walter Huston, Dennis Price, and Herbert Lom.

In 2016, though, we're giving him a new identity: Dr. Amir Shakti.

My Choice: SAG Award Winner for Best Ensemble (Slumdog Millionaire)

Irrfan Khan (Jurassic World, Inferno)

The original novel: William Henry Blore, a private detective accused of committing perjury to bring about an innocent man's conviction.

The movies: The same, whether he's played by Roland Young, Stanley Holloway, or Gert Fröbe.

In 2016, he'll be Wilhelm Heinrich Blöhr.

My Choice: Academy Award/BAFTA Award/Golden Globe Winner for Best Supporting Actor (Inglourious Basterds, Django Unchained), SAG Award Winner for Best Supporting Actor and Best Ensemble (Inglourious Basterds)

Christoph Waltz (Spectre, The Legend of Tarzan)

The original novel: Captain Philip Lombard, accused of negligence in duty (as with the movie Generals) and causing the deaths of an entire native regiment.

The movies: At first, it's familiar territory with Louis Hayward. Then, he's suddenly Hugh Lombard, accused of the death of a woman who was to bear his child, played by Hugh O'Brian and Oliver Reed.

In 2016...a simple change, French him up, make him Phillippe Lambert.

My Choice: Academy Award/BAFTA Award/Golden Globe/SAG Award Winner for Best Actor (The Artist)

Jean Dujardin (The Wolf of Wall Street, The Connection)

The original novel: Very clearly the heroine of the tale, Vera Claythorne is a former governess accused of the death of her charge.

The movies: Now accused of killing her sister's fiancé, though sometimes she's Vera Claythorne (June Duprez), or Anne Clyde (Shirley Eaton), or Vera Clyde (Elke Sommer)

In 2016, I prefer to have her back to Vera Claythorne.

My Choice: Academy Award/SAG Award Winner/BAFTA Award/Golden Globe Nominee for Best Supporting Actress (12 Years a Slave)

Lupita Nyong'o (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Queen of Katwe)

In some screen versions, there was a celebrity cameo as The Voice on the Tape -- aka, Mr. U.N. Owen. In 1965, it was Christopher Lee; in 1974, it was Orson Welles. And in my version...well, it would have been Alan Rickman, so instead...

My Choice: Hollmann Award Winner for Best Actress (A Touch of Class), Academy Award Winner for Best Actress (Women in Love, A Touch of Class)
GLENDA JACKSON (Mary, Queen of ScotsHedda)


Who would you cast in And Then There Were None? Comment below!

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Collinboy said...

I disagree with basicall all of your casting choices. In my head:

Anthony Marsten- William Moseley

Mrs. Rogers- Fiona Shaw

Gen. MacArthur- James Fox

Rogers- Richard E. Grant

Emily Brent- Kristen Scott Thomas

Judge Wargrave- Geoffrey Rush

Dr. Armstrong- Liam Neeson

William Blore- Daniel Craig

Phillip Lombard- Christian Bale

Vera Claythorne- Emma Watson (maybe)

Walter L. Hollmann said...

Your Neeson, Craig, Grant, Fox picks are especially inspired choices. I like Scott Thomas for Emily Brent, except then you mention Fiona Shaw and I want to see HER as Miss Brent. Solid group, though!