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The 9th Guest (1934)

Passed | | Drama, Horror, Mystery | 31 January 1934 (USA)
Eight strangers are invited to spend the night in a penthouse apartment. After being wined and dined, a voice on the radio informs them that they will be murdered unless they manage to outwit the ninth guest: Death.

Director:

Roy William Neill (as R. William Neill)

Writers:

Owen Davis (from a play by), Gwen Bristow (based on book by) | 2 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview:
Donald Cook ... Jim Daley
Genevieve Tobin ... Jean Trent
Hardie Albright ... Henry Abbott
Edward Ellis ... Tim Cronin
Edwin Maxwell ... Jason Osgood
Vince Barnett ... William Jones (as Vincent Barnett)
Helen Flint ... Sylvia Inglesby
Samuel S. Hinds ... Dr. Murray Reid (as Samuel Hinds)
Nella Walker ... Margaret Chisholm
Sidney Bracey ... Hawkins, the Butler (as Sidney Bracy)
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Storyline

Eight strangers are invited by a mysterious unknown host to spend the night in a penthouse apartment. The eight (5 men, 3 women) are wined, dined, then greeted by their host's voice via a radio broadcast. The voice announces that before the night is over each one will be systematically murdered unless they manage to outwit their ninth guest Death. Based on the mystery novel The Invisible Host (1930) by Gwen Bristow & Bruce Manning. Written by Sirron-3

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

EIGHT were invited...but death came unasked! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Horror | Mystery

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

31 January 1934 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Ninth Guest See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Columbia Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

While it certainly seems that Christie's infinitely superior work was influenced by this 9 years earlier work of fiction, it may or may not be so. Almost everyone is inspired by something seen or heard which later germinates. Christie may or may not have seen the film in question or read the book, who can know. Did the two American authors and Conan Doyle (who wrote the similar plotted "A Study in Scarlet") also plagiarize each other? As it only ran for a dismal 72 performances on Broadway she surely did not see the play.

I also disagree with some of the previous comment that begins with "Though it runs just over an hour, nearly every element of the film's plot was replicated in Agatha Christie's 'Ten Little Indians'":

1) "a coward who offers to collude with the murderer in return for his life being spared" - Totally inaccurate description of the relationship between Dr. Armstrong and Justice Wargrave in ATTWN.

2) "a male character managing the tension by drinking to excess" - Not in ATTWN.

3) "the two would-be lovers unraveling the solution to the mystery before they can be killed" - Not in ATTWN novel - not in original ending. Bleak ending changed later for stage, film, and TV productions.

4) The 1930 work relies on elaborate electronic devices more appropriate to the late 20th-early 21st century which are used to constrain and inject poison while Christie's has nothing of that sort.

5) The characters, some of whom know each other intimately, targeted for death in "The Invisible Host" are guilty of such serious but not capital crimes as conspiracy, corruption, and bigamy, and the killer is seeking revenge on those who directly impacted his life, whereas in Christie's ATTWN, each and every guest to the island is a stranger to each other (except the married couple of servants) and each has evaded justice despite being responsible for intentionally causing the death of at least one other human being (except, ironically, the actual killer, who took no innocent life nor was the ATTWN killer directly affected by the actions of his guests/victims).

6) In 'The 9th Guest', at least one completely innocent person is killed (later revealed as the electrician who wired the apartment so a high-voltage charge ran through the metal gate that was the only way to leave), and the fate of the two apparently innocent butlers is not known to those of us who haven't seen the film.

7) Unclear and illogical to invite the young man and woman who become the heroes and lovers, as they had done nothing to merit punishment.

Serious differences. Also, there is no record online of any accusations, much less lawsuits, filed by either Owen Davis and/or Gwen Bristow & Bruce Manning, for plagiarism or any similar such offense against Christie and her publisher, which, based on the above, would have been relatively easy to prosecute, with a good chance of success, based upon an apparent preponderance of evidence. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Man They Could Not Hang (1939) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Pretty good in its genre
15 July 2012 | by jonfrum2000See all my reviews

This movie just became available on YouTube. This is an adaptation of the book The Invisible Guest, and follows a similar plot to Agatha Christie's Ten Little Indians, while predating it by almost ten years. The plot is simple - people have been invited to a party by an unknown host, and are being killed off for their 'crimes.' In an interesting twist on the genre, this story is set in a modern penthouse apartment rather than a dark old house. And while the 'second butler' is introduced for laughs, he is on the screen for a mercifully short time.

Don't expect a lot here - I gave it a '6', thinking it's just above neutral. I did watch it to the end, but I wasn't always engaged, and the clunky romance element didn't help it much. Also in its favor, in a negative sense, there was no bumbling police to spoil what there is of drama. Worth a watch for those who like the genre, but not something you'll watch a second time.


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