While on a flight to London, a wealthy woman's chauffeur dies suddenly, and when the priceless necklace he was carrying turns up missing, it becomes a case of murder.



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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Mrs. Metcalf
Kay Davis
Gunnar Globle (as Pat Harrington)
Errol Pogson
Sonny Greer
Louis Metcalf
Fred Jenkins
John S. Ragin ...
Dr. Cliff Strayhorn
Capt. Whetsel
John Sukahara
Otto Hardwick (as Robert Walker)
Leon Bigard
Elizabeth Welch


During a first class flight to London where Hollywood producer Gunnar Globle makes Jessica proofread a script to stop him yapping, actress Sonny Greer's bodyguard-driver-lover Leon Bigard dies, poisoned. Sonny cries murder as soon as she notices his precious cargo, the $2,000,000 empress diamond necklace, is stolen; it's found in the bag of stewardess Kay Davis, who switched flight last minute, but jeweler John Sukahara notices it's paste, Sonny denies it could be a security decoy. Together with Scotland Yard's paper-pusher inspector Errol Pogson on board, Jessica examines the passengers. She finally finds the real one, but disbelieves the thief's murder confession on surprising grounds... Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Mystery





Release Date:

18 January 1987 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Twelve of the characters have the last names of musicians, singers or arrangers who worked for Duke Ellington: Louis Metcalf (Gene Nelson) and his wife (Mary Jo Catlett), Kay Davis (Robin Dearden), Sonny Greer (Kate Mulgrew), Fred Jenkins (Andrew Parks), Dr. Cliff Strayhorn (John S. Ragin), Captain Whetsel (Chris Robinson), Otto Hardwick (Robert Walker, Jr.), Leon Bigard (Mark Venturini), Carney (Charles Hoyes), Mr. Miley (Don Maharry) and his wife (Crystal Jenious). Some (Louis Metcalf, Kay Davis, Sonny Greer, Fred Jenkins and Otto Hardwick) also have the same first names as their Ellingtonian counterparts, though the Sonny Greer who worked for Ellington - his first drummer - was a man. See more »


When the flight hits turbulence, the captain tells everyone to put on their seat belt. You see/hear everyone doing it but when the flight attendant tells the "corpse" to put on his seat belt, he falls forward and she screams. The instant she screams, at least 6 people jump to their feet without unbuckling. See more »


Features The Blues Brothers (1980) See more »

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User Reviews

Murder in the air
5 August 2017 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Have always been quite fond of 'Murder She Wrote'. It is a fun and relaxing watch that makes you think as you try to unwind in the evening. If one wants more complex, twisty mysteries with lots of tension and suspense 'Murder She Wrote' may not be for you, but if you want something light-hearted and entertaining but still provide good mysteries 'Murder She Wrote' fits the bill just fine.

"The Corpse Flew First Class" is actually one of my favourite episodes of Season 3 and of 'Murder She Wrote' in general, refreshingly following up one of the season's lesser episodes "Night of the Headless Horseman". It has one of the show's most diverting, cleverest and at times suspenseful mysteries, where nothing feels over complicated or simplistic and nothing is as it seems. How everything is explained is ingenious, one of Season 3's best endings where everything about how and why the crimes were committed and who are very plausible.

Even with a confined and simple setting (a plane), the episode is slickly and stylishly shot and the fashions and hairstyles are fun to watch, not many hilariously bad ones here. The music has energy and has presence but also not making the mistake of over-scoring, while it is hard to forget or resist the theme tune.

The script is thoughtful and suitably amiable and as said there is nothing to fault the story.

Angela Lansbury is great as always and she is matched by a perfectly cast and note-perfect Kate Mulgrew. David Hemmings is a strong, sturdy presence and Pat Harrington is a hoot.

Overall, wonderful and one of my favourites actually. 10/10 Bethany Cox

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