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Murder by Death (1976)

What a funny film!

I have seen this movie several times. I am always able to get laugh at something new, notice a character trait I missed previously, and and just sit back and the mystery unfold.

Written by playwright Neil Simon.

Directed by the theatrical Robert Moore.

Opening animation by Charles Addams.

Music by David Grusin.

And a cast of who's who of character actors going back to the 1920's (and a few still relevant today)- Eileen Brennan, Truman Capote, James Coco, James Cromwell, Peter Falk, Alec Guinness, Elsa Lanchester, Richard Narita, David Niven, Peter Sellers, Maggie Smith, Nancy Walker, and the legendary Estelle Winwood.

Make Murder by Death a hilarious, often overlooked, comedy classic.

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by Anonymousreply 70January 18, 2022 8:41 AM

The cast is so good. You can tell they are having lots of fun. And for several, it's probably the last time we saw them. But it's really a fun watch.

by Anonymousreply 1January 15, 2022 11:31 PM

It is easily one of my favorite movies and I can’t understand why it doesn’t get more attention. It’s so clever and good hearted.

by Anonymousreply 2January 16, 2022 12:11 AM

I remember seeing this in the theater. I was only ten so I am sure I didn't get a lot of the jokes, but liked it anyway.

by Anonymousreply 3January 16, 2022 1:48 AM

I recall going to the neighborhood movie theater with my sister to see this as a teen. We loved it so much we went back and saw it again the following week.

by Anonymousreply 4January 16, 2022 1:49 AM
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by Anonymousreply 5January 16, 2022 1:53 AM

Maggie Smith of course walks away with the film.

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by Anonymousreply 6January 16, 2022 1:55 AM

I've only seen it on TV many, many years ago (back when ABC had its Sunday night movie -- that's how long ago). But yes, I remember that it was quite funny and I'd love to see it again sometime.

by Anonymousreply 7January 16, 2022 2:04 AM

A mixed bag, with a good cast and some entertaining moments, but it seemed like it could have been much better.

by Anonymousreply 8January 16, 2022 2:08 AM

It's on my shelf right now. Should I watch it tonight or maybe some early Hitchcock (or both?)

by Anonymousreply 9January 16, 2022 2:16 AM

Thay your goddam pronounth!

by Anonymousreply 10January 16, 2022 2:27 AM

I watched this on DL recommendation and because I love Peter Sellers. It was kind of funny.

by Anonymousreply 11January 16, 2022 2:28 AM

"Buns!? You bought buns and you did not tell me!? Where are zhey? Where are zhe buns?"

by Anonymousreply 12January 16, 2022 2:52 AM

I first saw this at the drive-in as a kid & have seen it many times since. Absolutely love it! Richard Narita was pretty hot too.

by Anonymousreply 13January 16, 2022 7:15 AM

My Dickie!

by Anonymousreply 14January 16, 2022 7:49 AM

“Where’s my Dickie?” - Maggie Smith.

Fixed it fer you.

by Anonymousreply 15January 16, 2022 8:16 AM

"Voice come from cow on wall."

"Moose! Moose, you imbecile!"

by Anonymousreply 16January 16, 2022 9:28 AM

They used to show this all the time on HBO in the early 80s. I watched it many times and have always loved it. I think that’s why I never warmed to the movie Clue. Murder By Death had already done it so much better 10 years earlier

by Anonymousreply 17January 16, 2022 10:02 AM

Clue isn't very good. I've never understood the love for it. The editing is abysmal, it ruins the timing on most of the jokes. And as much as everyone says they love Madeline Kahn, she looks stiff and uncomfortable, like she's suffering from a back injury through the whole film.

by Anonymousreply 18January 16, 2022 10:07 AM


by Anonymousreply 19January 16, 2022 6:05 PM

I hate to be the detractor, but this film has three things going for it, in my opinion:

The opening credits by Charles Addams.

The appearance by Truman Capote - not that he's any good - he isn't - but it's still fascinating.

The last five minutes where Alec Guinness cycles through a half-dozen different suspects and does so brilliantly. "I prefer to be called 'Rita'!"

Other than that a laugh-free waste of a brilliant cast. The whole back and forth about number two was like something written by a not-very-bright 14-year-old. Clue wasn't that much better but at least it had period fashions and an amazing set to look at.

by Anonymousreply 20January 16, 2022 6:17 PM


Dora (Maggie Smith): That must be the butler; come in.

Dick (David Niven): Darling, the man is stone deaf.

Dora: Oh, right -- COME IN!!!

by Anonymousreply 21January 16, 2022 9:06 PM

R20 I agree with you that the ending is the best part. Alec Guinness was having so much fun. He really is one of the greatest actors of all time.

I read someone that Dom DeLuise and Zero Mostel were asked to play Milo Perrier, but they couldn't. While James Coco does a good job, I think Mostel would have been hilarious.

I always felt David Niven and Maggie Smith should have been in a remake of The Thin Man. They were the closest to their literary characters.

by Anonymousreply 22January 16, 2022 10:19 PM

I adore this movie. Was my favorite as a kid.

by Anonymousreply 23January 16, 2022 10:28 PM

I saw this in the cinema as a kid. I was a big Agatha Christie fan from an early age, and I knew Charlie Chan from all the old films. Dick and Dora were the only parody I didn't quite get at the time -But Niven and Smith were so damned good that it didn't matter in the least. My only complaint is that the ending just doesn't work. Was anyone really murdered? If so, who did it? There were clearly a lot of scenes and bits cut from the final release, and they would probably have helped it make more sense.

by Anonymousreply 24January 16, 2022 10:41 PM

I remember seeing this when I was a kid.

The set up with everyone arriving at the house was funny, but the movie had nowhere to go after that point.

I haven't seen it in decades, and I would be curious to see if it's better than I remembered.

by Anonymousreply 25January 16, 2022 10:44 PM

R25 Enjoy!

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by Anonymousreply 26January 16, 2022 10:46 PM

Alec Guiness as the blind butler was hilarious.

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by Anonymousreply 27January 16, 2022 10:54 PM

Clue had some great one-liners, but this is such a better movie.

by Anonymousreply 28January 16, 2022 11:13 PM

"Dora (Maggie Smith): That must be the butler; come in. Dick (David Niven): Darling, the man is stone deaf."

No, the butler was blind.

The hired cook/maid (Nancy Walker) was deaf.

by Anonymousreply 29January 17, 2022 2:24 AM

I remember this scene at the end when I saw the movie in the theater, but it was removed when Murder by Death was released on video. It wasn't until years later that it showed up on YouTube to prove that I wasn't just imagining it. Apparently the Conan Doyle estate said no or wanted too much money.

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by Anonymousreply 30January 17, 2022 2:45 AM

One of my all-time favorite movies. There's just something about the setting and atmosphere that feels so warm and safe to me. It's like an old friend.

by Anonymousreply 31January 17, 2022 3:00 AM

Freaking hilarious movie

by Anonymousreply 32January 17, 2022 3:01 AM

Murder by Death, What's Up Doc? and 9 to 5 are my 3 favorites comedies ever.

by Anonymousreply 33January 17, 2022 3:02 AM

Inspired by references here to Dick and Dora to watch again the original The Thin Man, as I type.

by Anonymousreply 34January 17, 2022 3:14 AM

How about...Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid

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by Anonymousreply 35January 17, 2022 3:14 AM

Steve Martin?


by Anonymousreply 36January 17, 2022 3:20 AM

You can see the chauffeur of Perrier’s derrière.

by Anonymousreply 37January 17, 2022 9:07 AM

Could a remake be done today?

The jokes about Wang’s grammar?

Sam’s closeted gayness?

Let’s recast—

by Anonymousreply 38January 17, 2022 9:20 AM

It must have been on TV at some point because I remember seeing it, as a kid I honestly thought Keith McConnell as Sherlock was Basil Rathbone himself.

by Anonymousreply 39January 17, 2022 2:02 PM

Were Marcel and Pierre gay? Definitely the vibe I got.

by Anonymousreply 40January 17, 2022 2:57 PM

[quote]I love Peter Sellers. It was kind of funny.

And a little bit racist.

by Anonymousreply 41January 17, 2022 3:03 PM

This film was great. But I remember around that time "The Cheap Detective" getting a really good review somewhere, and I thought it was a big stiff, nowhere near as good.

by Anonymousreply 42January 17, 2022 3:07 PM

It wasn't, r42, but the women were fun.

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by Anonymousreply 43January 17, 2022 3:10 PM

La la la-la-la la...

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by Anonymousreply 44January 17, 2022 3:15 PM

Oh my!

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by Anonymousreply 45January 17, 2022 3:17 PM

Not really, r45. I think that Seller's casting is more a commentary on Warner Oland.

by Anonymousreply 46January 17, 2022 3:25 PM

[quote] Clue isn't very good. I've never understood the love for it.

Well for one thing it had a special guest appearance by Jane Wiedlin from the Go Gos

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by Anonymousreply 47January 17, 2022 3:56 PM

You brought BUNS and you did not TELL ME?!?!

by Anonymousreply 48January 17, 2022 4:34 PM

It took me years to realize that the sexy French chauffeur was James Cromwell.

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by Anonymousreply 49January 17, 2022 5:59 PM

R49, the scene at the end with him and in his under garments…


by Anonymousreply 50January 17, 2022 7:03 PM

I think James Cromwell is the only living cast member of Murder by Death.

by Anonymousreply 51January 17, 2022 7:08 PM

This movie came out when I was 10 or 11 and it was a tour-de-force EDUCATION in CINEMA.

by Anonymousreply 52January 17, 2022 7:13 PM

R51 Excuse me!

by Anonymousreply 53January 17, 2022 7:16 PM


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by Anonymousreply 54January 17, 2022 7:22 PM

I love R44... now just the girls... now just the boys... NOW JUST ME!

by Anonymousreply 55January 17, 2022 7:28 PM


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by Anonymousreply 56January 17, 2022 7:29 PM
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by Anonymousreply 57January 17, 2022 7:30 PM


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by Anonymousreply 58January 17, 2022 7:36 PM

It's a debate with me over which 1976 comedy was better, Murder by Death or the Pink Panther Strikes Again, both featuring Peter Sellers. Both has incredibly funny lines.

But that's a priceless Steinway!

Not anymore.

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by Anonymousreply 59January 17, 2022 9:07 PM

I meant have better lines. I have to fix that before Lionel Twain comes on here and gives me a tongue lashing.

by Anonymousreply 60January 17, 2022 9:09 PM

R 59 And David Niven?

by Anonymousreply 61January 17, 2022 9:11 PM

R61 He's not in PP Strikes Again. He's in the first one and two of the bombs from the 80s, but according to Wikipedia, his voice was dubbed by Rich Little. Those are the only two I have not seen from the original series.

by Anonymousreply 62January 17, 2022 9:16 PM

Don’t forget Willie Wang, r51.

by Anonymousreply 63January 17, 2022 10:21 PM

R63 Holy Shanghai!

I would love to love to have tasted Willy's Wang, or for that matter Wang's Willy.

by Anonymousreply 64January 17, 2022 11:23 PM

It’s a HUGE mess, but dang is it hilarious

by Anonymousreply 65January 17, 2022 11:25 PM

Mrs. Skeffington: "Sam met Twain at a...gay bar."

Sam: "Suspects! Suspects! I was always lookin' for suspects!!!"

Mrs. Skeffington; "Every night for SIX MONTHS?!?!?"

I enjoy this movie so much!!

Trivia: During filming, Alec Guinness was carrying the script of his next movie, a little film called...Star Wars.

by Anonymousreply 66January 17, 2022 11:38 PM


It is implied that the maid killed both Twain and the butler. What her motive is is not given - but given her laughter at the end it is probably something suitably diabolical.

by Anonymousreply 67January 17, 2022 11:45 PM

R67 She prefers Rita.

by Anonymousreply 68January 17, 2022 11:52 PM

I saw this that summer during a cross country family camping trip, I was 14. We were in the middle of the Great Plains somewhere and arrived at a campsite that was perfectly flat and completely treeless - with the very loud droning sound of cicadas. It was brutally hot After we got set up my mother took a look around and said - “let’s go see a movie.” I walked over to the office, and asked the middle aged lady at the counter where the nearest movie theater was. She just looked at me for a moment, then asked “where are you from?” in a very accusatory tone. “New York City,” I replied. Apparently that was the wrong answer. “Well,” she snorted, “this ain’t New York City with a movie on every goddamn corner!” “Ok”, I said as politely as I could, “but where’s the closest one?” She glared a me again, then pointed at the lone road and said dismissively “Theres one ten miles that way; and one ten miles the other way” We all got back in the gold Plymouth Satellite station wagon (just like the Brady’s!) and picked a direction. Eventually arrived at a really charming small town with all the buildings around a center square. As we found the theater, my dad muse “I wonder what time it starts?” “Probably when enough people get here,” I joked. I was a pretty snarky kid. We parked, waked up to the box office and asked the teenaged girl what time the show started. “When enough people get here,” she replied. I know this seems like an EST, but every word is true - it was one of the strangest days of the trip, and we all really loved the movie.

by Anonymousreply 69January 18, 2022 12:46 AM

Richard Narita got MUCH hotter as he aged. He was also in DL faves Dallas and Drop Dead Gorgeous, plus 100 million soaps. I'm surprised more people here didn't recognize him.

by Anonymousreply 70January 18, 2022 8:41 AM
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