Maeve Dermody and Aidan Turner as Vera Claythorne and Philip Lombard in And Then There Were None (2015).
Aidan Turner as Philip Lombard, adventurer and ex-mercenary
Devon, England, August 1939
Series Title: And Then There Were None
Air Date: December 26-28, 2015
Director: Craig Viveiros
Costume Designer: Lindsay Pugh
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None has been one of my favorite books since my sister first innocuously tossed me a copy in fifth grade. She had been reading it for a high school English class and correctly deduced that I would like it. What followed was a night-long reading experience that deluged me into such a state of overwhelming psychological horror that I have been trying desperately to duplicate ever since. It set off a course of events that caused me to eagerly consume as much of Christie’s work as I could, although few works of fiction have ever been able to deliver quite the same effect.
I eagerly sought out a filmed adaptation and discovered – back in the pre-DVD days of the internet’s infancy – that a relatively straightforward English version had been released in 1945, truer to the source than the many remakes in the following decades. I immediately scooped it up and enjoyed the classic flick with its lighthearted gallows humor and romanticized ending that Christie herself had penned for the play adaptation, but I still yearned for the sense of hopeless dread that pervaded the original novel.
Each subsequent and sexed-up adaptation got further and further away from this – placing glamorous actors in a ski chalet, desert hotel, or African safari? – while only a then-inaccessible Russian version from the late ’80s seemed to retain the original gloomy spirit. (Leave it to the Soviets, right?)
I had given up hope as I entered my 27th year until, this February, I received a terrific comment on this blog from Eric Langlois that opened my eyes to a recent BBC adaptation that had aired as a post-Christmas miniseries. The more I eagerly read about this adaptation, the more excited I was, and I set out to get my hands on it as soon as it was available in the states.
Fast forward to mid-April, two months later. My girlfriend, knowing I’m not much of a phone talker, is slightly alarmed to see a random call from me early one evening. I was so excited that Amazon had delivered my DVD of And Then There Were None – and three days early, at that! – that I needed to call her immediately not only to share my excitement with someone but also to explain the backstory of just why this was so important to me. I tried to savor it over three nights as the BBC intended, but I was only able to stretch it into two; I watched the first episode the first night and the subsequent two episodes (and all the DVD featurettes) the following evening.
Philip and Vera enjoy U.N. Owen’s robust collection of spirits during their drug-fueled death vigil bacchanal with Armstrong and Blore. While this may not be a literal page-to-screen scene from Christie’s book, it certainly illustrates the desperation of the characters.
And I loved it. Not only did it retain the original intended setting and bleak ending, but the frighteningly dark psychological horror that used to keep me up at night was piled into the miniseries to create a sense of authentic claustrophobia. You can keep your bloodfest slasher flicks; I prefer to get creeped out by watching the humanity gradually stripped away from ten otherwise “normal” people to the point where the best solution is an apocalyptic coke orgy set to the tune of Jack Hylton’s “Happy Feet”… (okay, the drug-fueled bacchanal was a derivation from the novel but it felt like an organic reaction that reflected the increasingly helpless dementia of these all-too self-aware characters.)
The book cites August 8 as the first day that everyone arrives on Indian Island. The film, which PC-updates the setting to Soldier Island, cites “August 1939” – the same year as the novel was originally published – as the setting. Thus, it would have been 77 years ago today that the ten murderers were assembled for that fatal weekend. (Luckily, several of the great actors that appeared in the production had been freed up to perform in And Then There Were None after their characters met their brutal deaths in the fourth season of Game of Thrones.)
What’d He Wear?
Costume designer Lindsay Pugh has a special talent for dressing well-dressed Britishers in the 1930s, having made a major splash with her work in Stephen Poliakoff’s 2013 series Dancing on the Edge. As she explained when asked to explain that decade’s apparel trends in a Q&A with WWD.com for that series:
Men’s suits were well tailored with strong shoulders and wide lapels. The trousers were pleated at the front, high-waisted and often with a 22-inch hem, turned up.
As Philip Lombard is portrayed here a stylish young man in the late 1930s, Pugh’s conclusions from that earlier production would have again been relevant for dressing the dashing mercenary, whether in his blue chalkstripe three-piece suit, black dinner suit, or the boldly colored casual attire featured in this post.
Philip Lombard proves to be the definitive man of action among more timid guests like Dr. Armstrong (Toby Stephens) and William Henry Blore (Burn Gorman). (Both Stephens and Gorman are also excellent in their respective roles!)
Clearly a snappy dresser regardless of context, Lombard wears a light brown herringbone tweed single-breasted sport jacket that would be very appropriate for a quiet weekend retreat off the English coast. The wide peak lapels have high, long, and slanted gorges with a buttonhole through the left lapel. The lapels break high on the front to accomodate for the high-fastening 3-button front. Also following Pugh’s noted trends from the decade, the wide shoulders of Lombard’s jacket are well-padded with roped sleeveheads.
The jacket is ventless with a welted breast pocket and straight hip pockets. Although the hip pockets are flapped, the flaps often tuck into the pocket to show just the jetting. There are four buttons on the end of each cuff.
Cigarette in hand, Lombard paces as the group deciphers the identity of U.N. Owen.
After the horror of the “guests”‘ situation has undeniably set in, Lombard doesn’t bother to dress any more formal than in a shirt and trousers. Both of his more casual shirts are light blue cotton.
For the first morning on the island after the deaths of Anthony Marston and Ethel Rogers, Lombard dresses casually in his tweed jacket with a solid pale blue shirt. The buttons down the front placket and the single button on each rounded cuff are all gray plastic. The shirt has a long point collar that Lombard wears open with no tie.
Murder most casual.
The final day on the island finds Lombard not even bothering with his jacket, wearing just a light blue shirt with a blue windowpane grid. He wears the button cuffs unfastened with the sleeves rolled up his forearms. This shirt’s collar appears to have a slightly wider spread than the other shirt, and the buttons down the front placket are white plastic.
Poldark don’t scare.
A behind-the-scenes shot of Aidan Turner filming the denouement shows how far his trouser line would fall, thus making both the shirt and pants look baggier and more unflattering to his athletic physique. Of course, given the stress of the life-and-death situation, Lombard may have been worried about a good deal more than his trouser waistline.
Lombard wears a pair of bold burgundy fleck flannel trousers with a high rise to just above the sixth button of his 7-button shirt. In a behind-the-scenes featurette for And Then There Were None, Pugh recalls her struggle getting the actors on board with this style:
For the men, it’s very difficult for them to understand because ‘30s fashion was absolutely high-waist in the trousers, which I love; I think it’s very sexy. But men have no idea where their waists are nowadays so they get very stressed about this.
Lombard himself, Aidan Turner, also weighed in:
The pants are a little high for my liking… I have all the costume people comin’ in, and they’re hoofin’ them up all the time and tying the belt a bit tighter and… and it feels so high. Everybody wears jeans these days, and it just feels weird.
Pugh proudly remembers that, after struggling to keep his trousers at the appropriate rise on the first day, Turner managed to get it throughout the several weeks of production. The higher rise also meant a slimmer waistline with a squared tab that extends over the fly to the first pleat on the right side.
He wears a slim black leather belt with a small, silver-toned square single-claw buckle.
The trousers have double forward pleats, with both pleats on either side of the first belt loop out from the center fly. The pleats add more room through the trouser hips with a full cut all the way through down to the cuffed bottoms. There are no back pockets, but the trousers have a vertical pocket along each side seam.
♪ What a difference a day makes… ♪
Lombard’s shoes are a pair of brown leather medallion cap-toe quarter brogue balmorals with brown laces through five eyelets.
Spoiler alert! (If you haven’t gotten around to reading the book in the last 70-odd years. Or even the damn title.)
For a brief sequence during the finale when Vera is following Lombard up a rocky ledge, Aidan Turner’s “stunt shoes” are seen on screen rather than the brown oxfords. These are a pair of lighter brown leather plain-toe ankle boots with dark brown laces through five open-laced eyelets.
Lombard’s magical oxfords can transform into similar-looking boots when traversing cliffs is in order.
With both sets of footwear, Lombard wears a pair of thin dark brown dress socks.
Lombard’s lone accessory is a simple watch with a silver square-shaped case on a russet brown leather strap. The tan square dial has gold hands and numeric markings.
Any ides on Lombard’s vintage watch?
Pugh refers to the gentlemen’s “loose, elegant, hip” look on screen as “a very macho look for everybody. It’s all very trim, it’s all very neat-waisted, it’s very strong shoulders.” Turner himself agrees:
It does give you a good line and a good shape, and you kinda think we have lost a lot… We don’t dress anything like half as stylish as people used to dress. We have lost something in that.
How to Get the Look
Lombard looks strongly masculine and refreshingly casual in a surprisingly bright colored outfit that incorporates trends of the era into timeless, classic male fashion.
- Light brown herringbone tweed single-breasted 3-button sport jacket with wide peak lapels, welted breast pocket, straight flapped hip pockets, 4-button cuffs, and ventless back
- Pale blue cotton shirt with long point collar, front placket, and 1-button cuffs
- Burgundy fleck flannel double reverse-pleated high-rise trousers with belt loops, straight on-seam side pockets, and turn-ups/cuffs
- Slim black leather belt with small square silver-toned single-claw buckle
- Brown leather medallion cap-toe quarter brogue 5-eyelet balmorals/oxfords
- Dark brown thin dress socks
- Silver-cased square watch with tan dial on russet brown leather strap
While variations of the jacket and shirts shouldn’t present too much of a challenge, Lombard’s burgundy fleck flannel trousers – with their full cut, high rise, and double pleats – are far too unique to be found in any store these days. Kudos to costume designer Lindsay Pugh and her team for outfitting Lombard in such a distinctive and original pair of trousers that are so unashamedly a stylish product of the times.
Interestingly, Agatha Christie provided very little information about the clothing worn by Philip Lombard in the novel. Other than the fact that he wears a wristwatch, her sole mentions of his clothing is limited to a pajama jacket worn with trousers.
A production photo of Aidan Turner as Lombard, aimed with his trusty Webley.
Philip Lombard’s revolver is a beautiful illustration of Chekhov’s Gun (Christie’s Gun?) that serves as a central device for the film’s denouement. Even the mastermind behind the Soldier Island deaths counts on Lombard to bring his trusty heat – and for it to be discovered – in order to facilitate several of the deaths.
As a former guerilla in the service of the British Army, Lombard appropriately packs a Webley .455 Mk VI, the British military’s official service revolver since World War I. The .455 Webley Mk VI revolver with its long 6″ barrel and squared target-style grips entered British service in May 1915 and was the military’s sidearm of choice for three decades through the end of World War II. The revolver’s potent .455 Webley cartridge was developed from the original .455 Mk I ammunition introduced for the first Webley service revolver in 1891.
Since the revolver is central to the mechanisms of the unseen “Mr. Owen”, Lombard was instructed to bring it along in case he expected trouble. While not as concealable for an ostensibly quiet weekend of dinner parties, Lombard manages to slip it into the rear waistband of his high-rise trousers when it’s not packed in his suitcase or stored in his bedside drawer.
Lombard stashes his Webley away in a bedside drawer.
A behind-the-scenes featurette on the DVD reveals that Lombard was originally scripted to have a “safety catch”, for which Lombard would rudely rebuke Vera for not realizing during the finale.
I’m not sure if Lombard’s rude line was changed when they gave her a revolver instead of a semi-automatic pistol (which would have a safety catch) or if they just decided to shave off some of the more misogynist language that wasn’t present in Christie’s source novel.
This is the only handgun seen in the film, as it is also the one used by Sam Neill as General MacArthur (not that MacArthur) in his hallucinatory flashback to the murder of Lieutenant Richmond during World War I.
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Buy the series and read Agatha Christie’s classic thriller; it’s the world’s best-selling mystery novel for a reason!