Staring into the freezer under the guise of hunger was the only way to cool off when he was downstairs. The worst was when it was too hot for him to sleep, even when he was in bed over the covers with that ancient, noisy fan a foot away from his face. In his eight years, the boy had developed his own list of survival techniques, some of which were matters of life and death in his mind . . . and he was darn proud of that “stand in front of the open fridge ‘n’ freezer” trick. Only one room in the house had been blessed with an air conditioner, and it was upstairs, along with the rest of the family and all the heat.
Finally the young boy grabbed four pudding pops out of the freezer and slowly walked back towards the stairs, already knowing how to deal the cards: Mom got the vanilla; Dad and his sister claimed the vanilla-swirl; he’d keep the chocolate for himself. Appreciating the alone time he had in the kitchen, that overwhelming temperature ushered him back into the one air-conditioned room in which his parents, his sister, and the most regal cat the world has ever known had been living for most of the summer. Carefully protecting those precious molecules of cool air, he opened and slammed the door as quickly as he could, noticing that the board game had been reset on the floor. As the boy took his seat and passed out the frozen treats, his mind screamed loudly, “This time, I win!” The cat eyed the family members all with loving manipulation, unsure of which pudding pop she would soon claim for herself.
Now this game on the floor that helped the family survive the heat was not your average two-board, six-character, six-weapon game . . . no, no, they had graduated to Clue: Master Detective, which had three boards, more rooms, more weapons, and more colorful characters. The boy’s obsession with the recent film adaptation, every line in it, and all things “Madeline Kahn” started to develop at that time, as did his love of mansion murder mysteries. After the boy moved on to a brief infatuation with Neil Simon’s brilliant comedy, Murder by Death (1976), one day his father turned to him and asked, “Have I ever given you any Agatha Christie?”
Eventually the boy made his way to the well-known novel And Then There Were None, and in eighth grade he learned the joy of reading theatre when a teacher put the play Ten Little Indians on the list of requirements. As his love of old films aged along with him, both the boy and the man he grew to become were delighted to find René Clair’s 1945 film adaptation of Christie’s masterpiece. Aside from a few cuts and slashes courtesy of the Hays Code’s knife of morality, the film stays mostly true to its literary predecessors and continues to give the boy a familiar “stay on your toes” feeling . . . a feeling not unlike knowing a cat might pounce and steal his pudding pop at any moment.