Murder by Death (1976) starring Eileen Brennan, Truman Capote, James Coco, Peter Falk, Alec Guinness, Elsa Lanchester, David Niven, Peter Sellers, Maggie Smith directed by Robert Moore Movie Review

Murder by Death (1976)   4/54/54/54/54/5

Maggie Smith and David Niven in Murder by Death (1976)

Murder by Mirth

Out of the blue a series of detectives, sleuths and investigators receive an invitation from the mysterious Lionel Twain (Truman Capote) to attend a gathering at his home at two two Lola Lane. Each of these guests are allowed to bring with them an associate where upon they are greeted by Twain's blind butler. The purpose of the gathering is that Twain is the self proclaimed greatest detective in the world and to prove it he states there will be a murder before midnight and who ever of his guests can solve the case will receive a huge reward. But things turn messy and dangerous as the night unravels not to mention confusing.

I don't think it is technically possible not to enjoy "Murder by Death" as it spoofs just about ever renowned detective going be it Miss Marple to Charlie Chan. Yes and on the mention of Charlie Chan I will get the elephant in the room out of the way with first as Peter Sellers plays the oriental Sidney Wang, a spoof of the Charlie Chan character and in this day and age it is the sort of thing which is just offensive, but "Murder by Death" is a product of the past when it was still considered funny rather than offensive.

Anyway with the elephant dealt with what we have in "Murder by Death" is the riot of comedy which you rarely see these days with an all star cast, constant daftness, witty lines and a series of characters which even if you are not a fan of detective movies you will recognize be it Peter Falk as Sam Diamond which is easily recognizable as Sam Spade or Elsa Lanchester as Jessica Marbles yes swap Marbles with Marples.

But it is not just the characters as it is the stupidity of everything from the blind butler and the cook who can't speak or hear or read. There are also the close shaves with falling masonry and a whole host of other things.

Now in fairness I am being purposefully brief and as vague as possible as "Murder by Death" is simply one of those movies which just needs to be watched rather than read about as it is a wealth of humour which for the most still works almost 40 years after it was made. So with that all I will say is find or buy a copy of "Murder by Death" and just sit back and enjoy a movie I will guarantee you will watch more than once.