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And Then There Were None (AKA Ten Little Niggers)


  • Visual Novels Danganronpa: Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc has an interesting example: the presence of a mole is not revealed until the fifteen students have been whittled down to seven, and the mastermind Monokuma immediately reveals the mole's identity in the hope that someone will murder them. However, Sakura was by no means a willing spy, and even kills herself to avoid being forced to off another. There was also a second mole who was betrayed by the mastermind and murdered in the first chapter. The trope really comes into play when Monokuma reveals that he is one of the sixteen students, controlling a robot proxy- everyone immediately begins suspecting each other, despite the mastermind actually not being among the group.

  • Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair goes a step further by having the mastermind reveal from the start that one of the sixteen students is a "traitor". However, this "traitor" is not a murderer but an observer sent to help the students. Furthermore, the knowledge of this "traitor's" presence does not drive anyone to murder out of paranoia: the victim of Chapter 5 does take lengths to flush out the traitor, but it is decidedly not "murder out of paranoia". In fact, his goal is actually to kill everyone but the traitor.

  • In Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, the characters have been kidnapped by a mysterious person called Zero to play a "Nonary Game" on a sinking ship. But some of the players know each other in a less-than-friendly context, and they aren't all able to go through the final door. You do the math...depressingly, though, it turns out the game is designed so all players survive by the end if they cooperate. While they can't all go through the final door, there are two final doors that would allow everyone to get through. Also, the only people in any real danger are those who made the first Nonary Game, the one played during the game being the second. The "sinking ship" the protagonist is on is a facility in the Nevada desert.

  • Shinrai: Broken Beyond Despair involves a series of murders at a Halloween party at a mountain resort. While the first death seems like a suicide, the second death is definitely a murder, so the group has to find out who the killer is. In a twist, the killer is none other than the supposed first victim, who'd pretended to commit suicide, killed the second victim, left a third to die, then hanged herself while the rest of the group was distracted trying to save the third victim.

  • A large part of Umineko: When They Cry's plot is based on this trope, fittingly, considering that the whole story is a Whole-Plot Reference of the Trope Namer. Between a Succession Crisis and a bizarre riddle counting off the visitors' horrific deaths (most of them in closed rooms) in a witch resurrection ceremony, the characters can't figure out whether they're being bumped off by each other or by an actual witch. And to add a meta-layer, you soon realize that the third-person narration is often outright lying (though the way it lies and what it shows often serves as a hint). Oh, and if the hero hasn't found the culprit when time runs out, the two days reset and another murder scenario starts. In the end, it turns out that not only is the culprit among the 18 people, they want to be discovered and stopped. All in all, this is quite a zig-zagging example.





And Then There Were None (AKA Ten Little Niggers)



The most popular film detectives of the 1930s were a delightful, high-society sleuthing couple: the inebriated Nick Charles with his wife Nora (and dog Asta). The characters in MGM's The Thin Man (1934) were derived from Dashiell Hammett's 1934 novel of the same title. The sophisticated, wise-cracking, boozing couple (magnificently portrayed by William Powell and Myrna Loy) managed to solve crimes and crack jokes in a long series of screwball-mystery gems. After their first film in 1934, there were five more grade-A sequels from 1936-1947 from MGM, although none were as good as their first effort. The first four films were directed by W.S. Van Dyke:


Another hardboiled detective, a suave and sophisticated sleuth named the Falcon, was featured in another RKO series during the 1940s - almost a carbon-copy of RKO's former Saint. The debonair and aristocratic Falcon character was taken from Michael Arlen's detective stories. In six years, there were 13 black and white films in the RKO series. Various actors portrayed the Britisher (named Gay Falcon, Tom Falcon, and Mike Waring) in the 16 Falcon pictures, including the former Saint George Sanders (1941-1942) in the first four, and then Tom Conway (Sander's real-life brother) in the next nine (from 1943-1946). After a two-year break, independent low-budget Film Classics bought the rights to the Falcon, and produced three more entires with John Calvert (1948-49):


And Then There Were None (1945) (aka Ten Little Niggers, UK), 97 minutes, D: Rene Clair Agatha Christie's best-selling 1939 detective novel (originally known as Ten Little Niggers) about ten houseguests, and subsequently performed as a stage play, from which this film was developed. This was the best-ever, most entertaining version of the Agatha Christie mystery - the black comedy/mystery story was remade and refilmed numerous times, including George Pollock's Ten Little Indians (1965, UK), Peter Collinson's Ten Little Indians (1974), and Alan Birkinshaw's Ten Little Indians (1989, UK), but this was the original. It served as the basis for the cult satire Murder By Death (1976). Eight individuals, strangers to each other, were invited to a forbidding house on an isolated island off the coast of Devon, England - the mansion was owned by the absent Mr. and Mrs. Owen, but their newly hired servants, butler Thomas (Richard Haydn) and cook Ethel Roberts (Queenie Leonard) were in attendance. Each of the 10, accused of having caused the death of others and escaping punishment, were eliminated. [Note: All of the murders were inspired by the Irish children's nursery rhyme song Ten Little Indians, ("Ten little nigger boys went out to dine; One choked his little self and then there were Nine...").] - the film's sole clue. The mysterious "Mr. U.N. Owen" (read as "Mr. Unknown") had created the remote Indian Island deathtrap. One by one, the guests started dying (off-screen) - by poisoning, drug overdose, stabbing, axing, by a hypodermic needle, a shot to the head, death by a crushing load of bricks, etc. The terminally-ill, wise and retired Judge Francis J. Quinncannon (Barry Fitzgerald), one of the guests, was revealed as the perpetrator of the killings - and identified as the enigmatic Mr. Owen. Quinncannon had faked his own death (bullet hole in the head) with the help of one of the unsuspecting victims, disgraced alcoholic doctor Dr. Edward Armstrong (Walter Huston), who he then killed. At film's end, Quinncannon offered surviving guest Vera Claythorne (June Duprez), a secretary, the option of hanging herself with a noose rather than waiting to be hanged publically. Then, he committed suicide by swallowing poisoned whiskey. Only two guests - who were not guilty of a hidden crime - managed to survive: Vera (who had confessed to a crime committed by her sister - the murder of her fiancee) and dashing adventurer-explorer Philip Lombard (actually his real name was Charles Morley) (Louis Hayward) who had attended in place of his friend Lombard who had committed suicide when threatened by Owen.


The Battle of San Pietro (1945) (aka San Pietro), 32 minutes, D: John Huston (uncredited) This was a vivid documentary short from writer/director John Huston, who also served as the uncredited narrator. It was part of executive producer Frank Capra's "Why We Fight" series, but considered anti-war in tone, and the US Army refused to show it in its full footage format of 90 minutes (it was cut down to about 30 minutes). The documentary was a gritty and blunt portrayal of the December 1943 bloody battle of the 5th Army's attack on the small Italian village of San Pietro in the rocky Liri Valley 40 miles SE of Rome - the reality of the fighting was intensified by hand-held cameras. The location was crucial - it blocked Allied forces from advancing forward during an Italian campaign toward Rome. For about two months, there was heavy fighting against the German stronghold in the village, as over 1,100 valiant US soldiers (composed of a team of Texas Rangers and the 143rd Infantry Regiment of the 36th Division) were killed during the conflict. 12 of sixteen supporting tanks were lost in the initial assault, and 1,100 troop replacements were required. Afterwards, Italian peasants were thankful and grateful for being liberated.


The Body Snatcher (1945), 78 minutes, D: Robert Wise Writer Robert Louis Stevenson's 1884 short story of the same name was the basis for this RKO horror-thriller from director Robert Wise, who later became famous for such classics as The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), West Side Story (1961), and The Sound of Music (1965). This was also the last of producer Val Lewton's great horror films - one of many that created a spooky and frightening atmosphere of tension. The story was based, in part, on a series of murders in 1828 (in Edinburgh, Scotland) committed by William Burke and William Hare over a period of ten months, who provided cadavers for Scottish anatomist and ethnologist Robert Knox. In the plot set in 1831, two "resurrectionist" body snatchers: cab driver and grave-robber John Gray (Boris Karloff) and his servant Joseph (Bela Lugosi), were assisting Dr. Wolfe "Toddy" MacFarlane's (Henry Daniell) illicit activities. [Note: MacFarlane's mentor was the notorious Dr. Knox.] They were illegally supplying MacFarlane's medical school with bodies for dissection, organ or body replacement surgeries, and anatomy lessons. They profited by selling the corpses - sometimes necessitating the murder of victims. Due to the heavily-guarded cemetery due to recent body thefts, Gray reluctantly had to murder (off-screen) a pretty, young blind street singer - a stunning murder scene. After Joseph threatened Gray with blackmail to reveal the body snatching scheme: ("Give me money or I tell the police that you murder the subjects"), Gray smothered Joseph to death, and then delivered his corpse to MacFarlane for his use. It was then revealed that Gray had been grave-robbing during the Burke and Hare trial, and had shielded the real perpetrator - MacFarlane. Gray had been sent to prison after saving MacFarlane. Another murder then occurred (witnessed by Gray's cat as shadows on a wall) - MacFarlane beat Gray to death for pressuring and tormenting him. In the film's classic final sequence during a fierce thunderstorm, MacFarlane drove Gray's horse-drawn carriage with a freshly-unearthed stolen elderly female corpse in the back. As he proceeded along to return to Edinburgh, MacFarlane insanely began to believe that the body (with the voice of the murdered Gray) was repetitiously taunting him, with his threat made earlier: "(You'll) never get rid of me!" and actually was sitting next to him in the driver's seat. As the spooked horses raced away, the coach broke loose and plunged out of control over the side of a cliff - taking MacFarlane to his death. The horror film ended with a closing title card: "It is through error that man tries and rises. It is through tragedy he learns. All the roads of learning begin in darkness and go out into the light." Hippocrates of Cos 041b061a72


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