Murder by Death
Directed by Robert Moore. US. 1976. 94 minutes. Sony. 35mm.
Sun., November 25, 2012
For fans of the old-fashioned Â“whodunnitÂ” mysteries, this Neil Simon-written farce is pure catnip. Famous Hollywood stars of the time portray parodies of such classic detectives as Charlie Chan (Peter Sellers), Sam Spade (Peter Falk), Nick and Nora Charles (David Niven and Maggie Smith), Hercule Poirot (James Coco), and Miss Marple (Elsa Lanchester). These worthies are all invited to the eerie mansion (complete with secret passageways and disappearing rooms) of the mysterious Lionel Twain (played by Truman Capote, in one of his only screen roles), and murder, mystery, and mayhem hilariously prevail. DonÂ’t miss the wonderful physical comedy that takes place between Alec Guinness (as the blind butler) and Nancy Walker (as the deaf-mute maid). Though admittedly politically incorrect, as pulled off by such talented players their timing is truly masterful. (Bill Roth)