Murder by Death

BY THE TIME THE WORLD’S GREATEST DETECTIVES FIGURE OUT WHODUNNIT… YOU COULD DIE LAUGHING!

murderbydeathjpgSix of the world’s greatest detectives gather at a remote mansion, but are not prepared for the mysterious host’s (Truman Capote) deadly games… This film is a delight for anyone who knows how to appreciate Neil Simon’s sense of humor as well as old mystery novels and movies. The all-star cast spoofs classic characters like Sam Spade and Charlie Chan; Capote is fun to watch in a rare performance and Peter Sellers, Peter Falk and James Coco are hilarious. The mystery itself is nonsense, but the movie benefits not just from the comedy but also amusing details like Charles Addams’s title- and end-credit illustrations.

1976-U.S. 94 min. Color. Produced by Ray Stark. Directed by Robert Moore. Screenplay: Neil Simon. Cast: Peter Sellers (Sidney Wang), Peter Falk (Sam Diamond), David Niven (Dick Charleston), Maggie Smith, James Coco, Alec Guinness… Elsa Lanchester, Eileen Brennan, Truman Capote, James Cromwell.

Trivia: Orson Welles was allegedly considered for the part of Wang; Myrna Loy as Dora Charleston. The doorbell scream belongs to Fay Wray in King Kong (1933). Followed by The Cheap Detective (1978).

Quote: “The last time that I trusted a dame was in Paris in 1940. She said she was going out to get a bottle of wine. Two hours later, the Germans marched into France.” (Falk)

Last word: “Truman was the last person I would have thought of for the part of the mystery aficionado. On the other hand, Ray Stark, the producer, was always looking for publicity, perfectly willing to sacrifice the part and hire someone like Truman… He was a great raconteur; we all know how funny he could be on his own, but he got stuck when he had lines to say”. (Simon, “Truman Capote: A Literary Life at the Movies”)

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