3 items from 2014
Murder mysteries are so commonplace on TV that each week offers seemingly dozens of them on police procedural series and detective shows. But in the movies, whodunits are surprisingly rare, and really good ones rarer still. There's really only a handful of movies that excel in offering the viewer the pleasure of solving the crime along with a charismatic sleuth, often with an all-star cast of suspects hamming it up as they try not to appear guilty.
One of the best was "Murder on the Orient Express," released 40 years ago this week, on November 24, 1974. Like many films adapted from Agatha Christie novels, this one featured an eccentric but meticulous investigator (in this case, Albert Finney as Belgian epicure Hercule Poirot), a glamorous and claustrophobic setting (here, the famous luxury train from Istanbul to Paris), and a tricky murder plot with an outrageous solution. The film won an Oscar for passenger »
- Gary Susman
The Post-1960S, Pre-Digital Age: Real-time One-offs, 1975-1998
British filmmaker John Byrum is responsible for the first (and in some ways only) real-time period film. Inserts (1975), set in the early 1930s, is about a Boy Wonder movie director (called Boy Wonder, played by Richard Dreyfuss fresh from American Graffiti (1973) and Jaws (1975)) now washed up before the age of 30, resigned to making porn because of Hollywood’s conversion to sound. Not only is Inserts scrupulously real-time (with the exception of the opening credits sequence, which offers glimpses of the stag film we’re about to see made) and period, but it’s rather long for such a film, just shy of two hours. To tell the entire story would be spoiling the fun, but the Boy Wonder deals with recalcitrant actresses, the problem of his own potency, career problems, death, sex, after-death and after-sex…and in the end, as »
- Daniel Smith-Rowsey
“Life after death is as improbable as sex after marriage!”
Clue plays midnights this weekend (July 25th and 26th) at The Tivoli Theater as part of the Reel late at The Tivoli Midnight series.
Way back in 1985, before we were translating literally every board game, video game, or action figure into a movie, there was Clue.
As in the Parker Brothers board game, seven suspects find themselves in a mysterious mansion with the body of someone who has been murdered by one of them. Was it Colonel Mustard (Martin Mull) with the revolver in the conservatory? Or was it Miss Scarlett (Lesley Ann Warren) with the rope in the billiards room?
Could it be both?
Clue was filmed with three possible endings. That’s 321 fewer endings than the board game permits, but two endings more than offered by most movies.
“What are you afraid of, a fate worse than death? »
- Tom Stockman
3 items from 2014
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