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Murder by Death (1976)

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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
Reviews
Popularity
4,794 ( 226)
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. 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 socialites Dick and Dora Charleston, accompanied by their pet terrier, Myron; Belgian detective Monsieur Milo Perrier, accompanied by his chauffeur, Marcel; Shanghainese Inspector Sidney Wang, accompanied by his Japanese adopted son, Willie Wang; frumpish Brit Miss Jessica Marbles, accompanied by her invalid nurse, Miss Withers; and San Francisco gumshoe Sam Diamond, accompanied by his femme fatale sidekick, Tess Skeffington. The dinner part of the invitation runs into problems due to the non-communication between Twain's blind butler, Jamesir Bensonmum, and Twain's new deaf-mute and non-Anglophone cook, Yetta. On the murder side, the guests initially believe Twain will try to kill each of them. However, ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

By the time the world's greatest detectives figure out whodunnit... you could die laughing! See more »


Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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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

Gross USA:

$32,511,047, 31 December 1976

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$33,453,202
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Peter Sellers also played Jessica Marbles' taxi driver, but the scene was deleted. See more »

Goofs

At one point in the dining room Milo Perrier is referred to as Marcel Perrier. Marcel is Milo Perrier's chauffer. See more »

Quotes

Inspector Milo Perrier: What do you make of all this, Wang?
Sidney Wang: [long pause] Is confusing.
See more »

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 () and Dr. Watson () 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

Referenced in Murder by Death: A Conversation with Neil Simon (1999) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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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