7.4/10
30,978
182 user 56 critic

Murder by Death (1976)

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3:08 | Trailer
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
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Popularity
4,401 ( 535)
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:

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

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$38,200
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

The country road was built on Stage 16 of The Burbank Studios. This was contrary to the traditional practice of contemporary moviemaking of using actual locations for exteriors. The reason for creating the set was to give the movie the look of the 1930s and 1940s detective genre movies which have a distinctive style. Instead of process photography, a large rotating drum with cyclorama of painted trees and branches and real shrubbery attached moves around as the cars remain positioned. The autos were jostled in place to simulate movement, and the exterior scenery outside moves by on the leafy carousel. It is a filmic technique used in the 1920s, and which filmmaker Ingmar Bergman continued to use. Eight dozen evergreens, hundreds of shrubs, and assorted foliage, and tons of dirt, were used to create the country road. This was a costly bit of landscaping according to the movie's production notes. See more »

Goofs

(at around 52 mins) When Milo Perrier, Sidney Wang and Jessica Marbles find the dead butler, Wang feels the wrist for a pulse and declares him dead. However, he did not even allow two seconds when feeling for a pulse; this is too short a time to determine if a pulse exists or not. See more »

Quotes

Dick Charleston: How lovely dear! We're in Wang's wing!
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 (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 Rebecca (1940) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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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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