Murder By Death (1976) starring Peter Falk, David Niven, Peter Sellers
Murder By Death is an absolutely hilarious of the murder mystery genre, spoofing virtually every classic detective character with an all-star cast! Hilariously funny and highly recommended!
Review of Murder By Death
In short, Murder By Death is a hilarious, fast-paced, funny spoof of the Old Dark House genre. And it lovingly mocks every major detective in fiction, up to that time. The list includes:
- Sam Spade / Sam Diamond (Peter Falk)
- The Thin Man series – Nick & Nora Charles / Dick & Dora Charleston (David Niven, Maggie Smith)
- Hercule Poirot / Milo Perrier (James Coco)
- Miss Marple / Jessica Marbles (Elsa Lanchester)
- Charlie Chan / Sidney Wang (Peter Sellers)
The plot is a homage to Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians. An unknown suspect is committing, or at least attempting, a series of murders. And the various detectives each narrowly avoid their own death traps, in various comical settings.
And, the conclusion where the murderer is revealed is absolutely hilarious! Each detective has “solved” the murder, and the suspect admits that the detective is absolutely correct. Until the next detective gives his solution — which is absolutely correct! Over, and over. It’s funny, hilarious, fast-paced, and highly recommended!
The world’s greatest detectives have been invited to dinner. But when murder is on the menu, who will make it to dessert? You are cordially invited to join an all-star cast featuring Peter Sellers, David Niven, Peter Falk, James Coco, Elsa Lanchester, Maggie Smith, Alec Guinness, Eileen Brennan, Nancy Walker, James Cromwell and Estelle Winwood for Neil Simon’s hilarious murder-mystery spoof MURDER BY DEATH. The isolated mansion of eccentric millionaire Lionel Twain (celebrated author Truman Capote in a Golden Globe(r) -nominated performance) is the setting for the twisted puzzler. Twain informshis guests that one of them will be murdered at the stroke of midnight. The pay-off: $1 million to whoever lives through the night. MURDER BY DEATH neatly lampoons both the mystery genre and the characterizations of these instantly recognizable gumshoes. Match wits with the super sleuths, but remember, you can’t win if you end up dying from laughter!
Cast of characters
- Eileen Brennan (Clue; Divorce American Style) … Tess Skeffington. Sam Diamond’s faithful gal Friday.
- Truman Capote (Breakfast at Tiffany’s – writer) … Lionel Twain. The man hosting the murder mystery weekend. Who’s seemingly poisoned the first night.
- James Coco (Man of La Mancha; The Muppets Take Manhattan) … Milo Perrier. Parody of Hercule Poirot.
- Peter Falk (The Great Race; Columbo) … Sam Diamond. Parody of Sam Spade in particular, the hardboiled detective in general.
- Alec Guinness (Star Wars IV A New Hope) … Jamessir Bensonmum. Twain’s blind butler.
- Elsa Lanchester (Bride of Frankenstein; Witness for the Prosecution) … Jessica Marbles. Parody of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple.
- David Niven (The Bishop’s Wife; Around the World in 80 Days (1959)) … Dick Charleston. Along with his wife, a parody of Nick & Nora Charles from The Thin Man series.
- Peter Sellers (A Shot in the Dark; Being There) … Sidney Wang. An absolutely hilarious parody of Charlie Chan. Some people will be offended by his accent, however.
- Maggie Smith (Clash of the Titans ; Keeping Mum) … Dora Charleston. The other half of Dick & Dora.
- Nancy Walker (The World’s Greatest Athlete; Best Foot Forward) … Yetta, the deaf-mute cook. Who may be something more. Or not …
- Estelle Winwood (Bewitched; The Producers 1967) … Miss Withers. Nurse. Assisting Miss Marbles.
- James Cromwell (The Green Mile; Star Trek: First Contact) … Marcel. The chauffeur.
- Richard Narita … Willie Wang. Number one son to Sidney Wang. Actually his third adopted son, but still …