Murder By Death

Reviewed By Ryan Arthur
Posted 10/22/98 00:05:15

"I'm not a Frenchie, I'm a BELGIE!"
5 stars (Awesome)


Neil Simon's been kind of hit-or-miss for me. Adaptations from the stage are always kind of iffy, but this was a straight screenplay, and it's probably one of the funniest movies I've ever seen.

Five of the world's greatest detectives are invited to solve a murder at the home of one Lionel Twain (Truman Capote). Among those invited: Sam Diamond (Peter Falk), Dick and Dora Charleston (David Niven and Maggie Smith), Sidney Wang (Peter Sellers) and Milo Perrier (James Coco).

Oh, and if you haven't guessed, it's a spoof. Each of the characters represents a spoof of popular crimsolvers (Sam Spade, Nick and Nora Charleston, Charlie Chan and Hercule Poirot, respectively).

This movie predates Clue (another of my favorites) by about 15 years, but this movie also has a deaf-mute maid/cook (Nancy Walker) and a blind butler (Sir Alec Guinness).

Puns, lots of jokes and plot twists (some of them fairly impossible, but that's the fun) abound, with solid performances from a strong ensemble cast. Capote's hilarious as Twain ("Say your goddamn pronouns!"), and look for a small role for James Cromwell, who'd go on to fame as the farmer in Babe.

Bensonmum: She murdered herself in her sleep, sir. Dick Charleston: You mean suicide? Bensonmum: Oh no, it was murder, all right. Mrs. Twain HATED herself.

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