Murder By Death (1976)
Murder by Death (1976), written by Neil Simon, directed by Robert Moore and starring Eileen Brennan, Truman Capote, James Coco, Peter Falk, Alec Guinness, Elsa Lanchester, David Niven, Peter Sellers, Maggie Smith, Nancy Walker, and Estelle Winwood.
Murder by Death is a Locked House mystery in the style of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None.
It’s a parody of the mystery that sits comfortably on the shelf next to Clue and Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid. The sheer acting talent of the cast is nearly overwhelming, and the loving homage to the five mystery millieux (Charlie Chan, Sam Spade, Miss Marple, Dan and Dora, and Hercule Poirot) are spot-on, both in similarities and in critique of their failings.
From the slapstick to the surreal, goaded by Capote and Neil Simon’s sense of the weirdly funny, the action rises until a standard mystery reveal, subverted in that each detective unveils another startling truth, escalating in unbelievability, until it’s all over and the audience is left with a bemused “huh?” — exactly the sort of ending Capote railed against in his fun rant.
It’s also fun to see some actors early in their careers being goofier than they became generally known for. And Eileen Brennan, of course, who was also in Clue.
This is Scix in the back Row, cheating my readers.