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Murder by Death

Released on: 23 Jun 1976 • Rated: PG • Runtime: 95 min

Genre: Comedy, Crime, Mystery

Director: Robert Moore
Writer: Neil Simon
Actors: Peter Falk, Alec Guinness, Peter Sellers

Plot: Five famous literary detective characters and their sidekicks are invited to a bizarre mansion to solve an even stranger mystery.

Box Office Gross: N/A

Awards: 3 nominations








Murder by Death, directed by Robert Moore and released in 1976, is a delightful and entertaining parody of classic murder mystery stories. With a star-studded ensemble cast, witty dialogue, and clever twists, this comedic gem takes audiences on a whimsical journey filled with laughter and intrigue.

The plot revolves around the eccentric millionaire Lionel Twain (Truman Capote) who invites the world’s greatest detectives to his mansion for an evening of mystery and murder. As the evening progresses, the detectives find themselves entangled in a series of puzzling and humorous scenarios, testing their sleuthing skills and challenging their assumptions.

One of the film’s greatest strengths lies in its playful tone and clever writing. The script, penned by Neil Simon, is filled with sharp wit, rapid-fire banter, and tongue-in-cheek humor. Simon expertly weaves together the tropes and clichés of the mystery genre, subverting expectations and delivering punchlines with impeccable timing.

The ensemble cast is a true highlight of Murder by Death, featuring iconic actors such as Peter Falk, Peter Sellers, Maggie Smith, Alec Guinness, and Truman Capote himself. Each actor fully embraces their character’s quirks and idiosyncrasies, bringing them to life with comedic flair. The chemistry among the cast members is palpable, resulting in delightful interactions and hilarious comedic moments.

Robert Moore’s direction keeps the pace brisk and ensures that the comedic timing remains spot-on. His keen eye for staging and blocking allows the ensemble cast to shine, capitalizing on their individual strengths and delivering memorable performances. The film’s production design captures the opulence and grandeur of a classic murder mystery mansion, adding to the overall charm and authenticity of the setting.

While Murder by Death primarily focuses on comedy, it also touches on themes of deception, rivalry, and the nature of truth. Beneath the laughs and hijinks, there are moments of self-reflection and commentary on the conventions of the mystery genre. The film playfully pokes fun at the tropes and clichés while simultaneously paying homage to the classics.

The score, composed by Dave Grusin, adds a whimsical touch to the film, complementing the comedic atmosphere and enhancing the suspenseful moments. The cinematography, while not groundbreaking, effectively captures the essence of a classic mystery film, utilizing lighting and camera angles to create a visually appealing experience.

Murder by Death is a movie that is meant to be enjoyed with a sense of lightheartedness and a willingness to embrace its comedic absurdity. It may not be a film that delves into profound depths or explores complex themes, but it succeeds in providing an entertaining and hilarious experience.

Overall, Murder by Death is a delightful comedic romp that pays homage to the mystery genre while simultaneously parodying its conventions. With its stellar ensemble cast, witty writing, and playful tone, it invites viewers to sit back, relax, and enjoy a whimsical whodunit that will leave them smiling.

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