Despite not knowing him, the world's most famous detectives can't pass up the offer of a "dinner and murder" invitation from wealthy Lionel Twain. Each has no idea until their arrival at Two Two Twain who else will be in attendance. Those detectives are: amateur sleuths and New York socialites Dick and Dora Charleston, accompanied by their pet terrier, Myron; Belgian detective Monsieur Milo Perrier, accompanied by his chauffeur, Marcel; Shanghainese Inspector Sidney Wang, accompanied by his Japanese adopted son, Willie Wang; frumpish Brit Miss Jessica Marbles, accompanied by her invalid nurse, Miss Withers; and San Francisco gumshoe Sam Diamond, accompanied by his femme fatale sidekick, Tess Skeffington. The dinner part of the invitation runs into problems due to the non-communication between Twain's blind butler, Jamesir Bensonmum, and Twain's new deaf-mute and non-Anglophone cook, Yetta. On the murder side, the guests initially believe Twain will try to kill each of them. However, ... Written by
By the time Eileen Brennan, Truman Capote, James Coco, Peter Falk, Alec Guinness, Elsa Lanchester, David Niven, Peter Sellers, Maggie Smith, Nancy Walker and Estelle Winwood figure out whodunnit, you'll die laughing. See more »
In the opening credits sequence, Sam Diamond's and Bensonmum's eyes are the only ones that do not change position. In fact, Alec Guinness's caricature is the only one without pupils to be moved. See more »
The kitchen is in keeping with the period except for the double-door refrigerator/freezer with an ice-dispenser, first introduced in 1965. The Coke bottles seem modern. At that time "Coca-Cola", not "Coke" would have appeared on the bottles, more likely embossed than printed, and probably in a green bottle. See more »
As the opening credits begin, a pair of black-gloved hands come into frame to unlock and open a footlocker containing the cardboard cutouts of the characters. These characters are displayed with their respective name credit. As the closing credits end, the same pair of black-gloved hands come into frame to close and lock the footlocker. See more »
"Murder by Death" is a comic murder-mystery done in absolute lunacy. I mean this is one screwball comedy that made me laugh out loud quite often. And yet, there are so many confusing moments that I didn't know what on earth was going on. It seems that writer Neil Simon was trying to complicate moviegoers with his screenplay to this movie which pays homage to detectives of old classic movies such as Charlie Chan, Miss Marple, Sam Spade, and Hercule Poirot. In "Murder by Death", a mysterious man invites the 5 greatest detectives to his home for "dinner and a murder" as he describes it. An all-star cast is featured here and all of them are very funny. The best: Peter Sellers in the Charlie Chan take-off. Sellers is of course best known for playing the inept Inspector Clouseau in the "Pink Panther" movies, but his role here as Chinese detective Sidney Wang is a hoot. He made me laugh the hardest. Just looking at him made me laugh. The way he talked made me laugh. He's naturally funny everytime he's on screen. Also funny: the great Sir Alec Guinness as a blind butler. I thought he was supposed to be a serious actor! I don't think I've ever seen Guinness in a movie comedy, but he makes the most of his character here. He comes second behind Sellers in the laugh department in "Murder by Death". Two other funny performances are turned in by James Coco and James Cromwell ("Babe" and "L.A. Confidential") as the Hercule Poirot sendoff and his chauffeur. It's funny to watch a younger Cromwell here speaking with a bad European accent. David Niven, Maggie Smith, Peter Falk, Eileen Brennan, Elsa Lanchester, and Nancy Walker also register laughs too. But the most downright goofiest character in "Murder by Death" is the host orchestrating this crazy game, played by Truman Capote. He's very funny too. Another major factor in the film are the sets of the old mansion the movie takes place in. They're marvelous. But at times the story gets real complicated and seems to get parts dislocated. It bothered me a little the first time I saw this. Now I just sit back and let the movie play on. Neil Simon intended on this to be a crazy comedy and in that way he succeeded. "Murder by Death" is all-in-all a very enjoyable movie.
*** (out of four)
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