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

Director:

Robert Moore

Writer:

Neil Simon
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Eileen Brennan ... Tess Skeffington
Truman Capote ... Lionel Twain
James Coco ... Milo Perrier
Peter Falk ... Sam Diamond
Alec Guinness ... Bensonmum
Elsa Lanchester ... Jessica Marbles
David Niven ... Dick Charleston
Peter Sellers ... Sidney Wang
Maggie Smith ... Dora Charleston
Nancy Walker ... Maid
Estelle Winwood ... Nurse
James Cromwell ... Marcel
Richard Narita ... Willie Wang
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Storyline

Despite not knowing him, the world's most famous detectives can't pass up the offer of a "dinner and murder" invitation from wealthy Lionel Twain (Truman Capote). Each has no idea until their arrival at Two Two Twain who else will be in attendance. Those detectives are: amateur sleuths and New York City socialites Dick (David Niven) and Dora Charleston (Dame Maggie Smith), accompanied by their pet terrier, Myron; Belgian detective Monsieur Milo Perrier (James Coco), accompanied by his chauffeur, Marcel (James Cromwell); Shanghainese Inspector Sidney Wang (Peter Sellers), accompanied by his Japanese adopted son, Willie Wang (Richard Narita); frumpish Brit Miss Jessica Marbles (Elsa Lanchester), accompanied by her invalid nurse, Miss Withers (Estelle Winwood); and San Francisco gumshoe Sam Diamond (Peter Falk), accompanied by his femme fatale sidekick, Tess Skeffington (Eileen Brennan). The dinner part of the invitation runs into problems due to the non-communication between Twain's ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

You are cordially invited to dinner... and a murder! See more »


Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

All of the detectives in this movie are parodies of the work of three authors: Dashiell Hammett, whose Nick Charles and Sam Spade were the basis for Dick Charleston and Sam Diamond, respectively; Dame Agatha Christie, whose Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple inspired Milo Perrier and Miss Marbles; Earl Derr Biggers, whose Charlie Chan was the basis for Inspector Sidney Wang and his son. See more »

Goofs

When Charleston picks up the mouse in his room, it's clear that it is a fake. (Also, mice don't make the noise that is heard.) See more »

Quotes

Inspector Milo Perrier: Since we cannot call for a doctor, I will need a cold compress for my chaffeur, and a cup of hot chocolate for me, n'est-ce pas?
Jamesir Bensonmum: I don't think we have any Nespa, sir. Just Hershey's.
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Crazy Credits

Opening credits: Starring (In Diabolical Order) See more »

Alternate Versions

The original ABC Network broadcast of the film contained four additional scenes not found in the theatrical or DVD version. 1. Jessica Marbles' taxi driver (played by Peter Sellers) requests a large fare. 2. Dick and Dora Charleston narrowly avoid running over Tess Skeffington, who is walking back to Sam Diamond's car from a service station because she and Sam ran out of gas. Satisfied that Tess is all right, the Charlestons simply drive off, leaving her there. 3. When Willie Wang covers up the body of Twain, he finds a note in Twain's hand and smugly announces this to the others. 4. As the detectives drive away from Twain's house at the end of the film, Inspector Wang and Willie pass another car carrying Sherlock Holmes (Keith McConnell) and Dr. Watson (Richard Peel) heading towards the Twain home. When Willie asks his father "Why didn't you warn them?" Wang replies "Let idiots find out for themselves." See more »

Connections

Spoofs The Cat and the Canary (1927) See more »

User Reviews

 
A hilarious whodunit spoof
23 January 2004 | by TBJCSKCNRRQTreviewsSee all my reviews

This is an utterly hilarious parody, spoofing detective stories. Much of the humor is verbal, some of it relies on stereotypes and such related (mainly) to the crime story genre. Some of the humor is a tad dirty, and a bit of it is quite dark. Personally, I loved it, but if you have anything against such humor, you may want to skip this one. It doesn't try too hard to make you laugh. The laughs roll in quite naturally, as it parodies a few of the most well-known fictional detectives; Agatha Christie's Mrs. Marble, among others. The setting is one typical to detective stories, and the atmosphere is simply perfect. The plot is very good, and develops nicely while still remaining interesting. The pacing is mostly flawless, but it seemed to lose momentum some, around the last third. The acting is all good, especially from Alec Guinness, Peter Falk and Peter Sellers. One wouldn't expect particularly good performances in a comedy, but this manages. The film is well thought out and equally well-executed. The only thing I didn't like, was that the ending, or maybe the entire third half of the film seemed a bit anticlimactic. At this point, all the action is done, and we're just waiting to find out who's behind it all. The very end is quite good though, a very funny and entertaining twist to say the least. And everything leading up to it is incredibly funny. The characters, while admittedly based somewhat on stereotypes, are all entertaining and each have their own shtick; among them are Milo Perrier, the perpetually hungry and ridiculously sensitive Frenchman, and the *very* British Dick Charleston, played to perfection by David Niven, and last but most definitely not least, Sam Diamond(Peter Falk, doing his Columbo thing), borrowing from noir and Bogart, complete with nonsensical, lengthy rants. I recommend this to anyone into detective movies and/or spoofs. Do keep the humor I mentioned early in the review in mind when considering whether or not to watch. 8/10


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

23 June 1976 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Neil Simon's Murder by Death See more »

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Box Office

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$38,200
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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