Murder by Death
  • Murder by Death
  • Murder by Death

Murder by Death

4.7 13
Director: Robert Moore

Cast: Eileen Brennan, Truman Capote, James Coco

     
 

The '70s detective spoof Murder by Death arrives on DVD for the first time on Columbia TriStar. This two-sided disc offers both widescreen and full-screen versions with mono soundtracks in either English or Spanish. Subtitles are available in Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, and Thai. Extra features include talent files for Robert…  See more details below

Overview

The '70s detective spoof Murder by Death arrives on DVD for the first time on Columbia TriStar. This two-sided disc offers both widescreen and full-screen versions with mono soundtracks in either English or Spanish. Subtitles are available in Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, and Thai. Extra features include talent files for Robert Moore, Neil Simon, Truman Capote, Peter Falk, Peter Sellers, David Niven, Maggie Smith, and Alec Guinness. This DVD also contains production notes, an interview segment with Neil Simon, and theatrical trailers for Murder by Death and The Cheap Detective. This is an excellent release of a star-studded comedy classic.As penned by Neil Simon, this satire of movie mysteries is set in motion when several prominent detectives are invited to the mansion of the reclusive Lionel Twain (Truman Capote). In Ten Little Indians fashion, the gathered sleuths are locked into the forbidding mansion, and subject to various death-dealing devices. While struggling for their lives, the vainglorious gumshoes continue to try to one-up one another. Each character is broadly based on a famous literary detective: Sidney Wang (Peter Sellers) is an aphorism-spouting Charlie Chan clone: Dick and Dora Charleston (David Niven and Maggie Smith) are patterned on the protagonists of the Thin Man flicks; Milo Perrier (James Coco), a Hercule Poirot takeoff, stalks through the proceedings declaring "I'm a Belgie, not a Frenchie!"; Sam Diamond (Peter Falk) is Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe and Dashiell Hammett's Sam Spade rolled in one; and Jessica Marbles (Elsa Lanchester) is a dottier variation of Agatha Christie's Miss Marple. Best bit: a "conversation" between blind butler Jamessir Bensonmum (Alec Guinness) and deaf-mute maid Yetta (Nancy Walker). The fade-out gag of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson showing up late for Lionel Twain's party was edited from the theatrical version of Murder by Death, but was restored for TV. The film marked the big-screen directorial debut of Robert Moore, who'd previously directed several of Neil Simon's Broadway productions. Moore went on to direct another Simon spoof, The Cheap Detective (1978), before his untimely death.

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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Dan Friedman
Murder by Death belongs on any list of the most overlooked comedies of the last few decades. A spoof on the mystery genre written by Neil Simon, the story involves caricatures of every prominent literary detective portrayed by a who's who of acting talent. Charlie Chan (Peter Sellers), Hercule Poirot (James Coco), Sam Spade (Peter Falk), Nick Charles (David Niven), and Miss Marple (Elsa Lanchester) all get the royal treatment, and the elaborate setup involves a recluse, played by Truman Capote, challenging them to a battle of wits. The jokes come like cannon fire and nearly every line of dialogue is a one-liner. Simon throws enough mystery elements into the script to keep things interesting, most exemplified by the blind butler played to perfection by Alec Guinness. One of the singular pleasures of this film is watching actors not ordinarily associated with laugh-out-loud comedy handle the material with tremendous amount of aplomb, particularly Niven, Guinness, and Maggie Smith as Niven's wife, who has perhaps the most sarcastic and funny part in the film. Capote is miscast, but the very fact of that makes his role even funnier. The mystery setup goes absolutely nowhere and there are shots of what could be assumed to be clues for the audience that are just red herrings. The whole thing is centered on the characters and the portrayals. Falk does a tremendous Humphrey Bogart impersonation and Sellers gives what has to be one of his more restrained performances, but hilariously funny, nonetheless. If there's one drawback it's that things may move too fast for a present-day audience. It seems more complicated than it really is, but Murder by Death is a good place to find consistent laughs.

Product Details

Release Date:
12/18/2001
UPC:
0043396079342
Original Release:
1976
Rating:
PG
Source:
Sony Pictures
Region Code:
1
Presentation:
[Full Frame, Wide Screen]
Sound:
[Dolby Digital, monaural]
Time:
1:34:00
Sales rank:
3,058

Special Features

Exclusive interview: A conversation with Neil Simon; Theatrical trailers; Talent files; Production notes

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Eileen Brennan Tess Skeffington
Truman Capote Lionel Twain
James Coco Milo Perrier
Peter Falk Sam Diamond
Alec Guinness Jamessir Bensonmum, the Butler
David Niven Dick Charleston
Peter Sellers Sidney Wang
Maggie Smith Dora Charleston
Elsa Lanchester Jessica Marbles
Nancy Walker Yetta the Maid
Estelle Winwood Nurse Withers
James Cromwell Marcel the chauffeur
Richard Narita Willie Wang
Dog: Myron Actor

Technical Credits
Robert Moore Director
Margaret Booth Editor
John F. Burnett Editor
Fred T. Gallo Asst. Director
Stephen B. Grimes Production Designer
Dave Grusin Score Composer
Jerry Jost Sound/Sound Designer
Harry R. Kemm Art Director
Augie Lohman Special Effects
Marvin March Set Decoration/Design
Ann Roth Costumes/Costume Designer
Roger M. Rothstein Associate Producer
Tex Rudloff Sound/Sound Designer
Roger Shearman Camera Operator
Jennifer Shull Casting
Neil Simon Screenwriter
Ray Stark Producer
David M. Walsh Cinematographer

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Scene Index

Side #1 -- Widescreen
0. Scene Selections
1. Start [2:44]
2. The Invitations [2:06]
3. Dick & Dora Charleston [1:09]
4. Sidney Wang [2:24]
5. Milo Perrier [1:02]
6. Sam Diamond [2:01]
7. The Bridge Test [1:07]
8. 22 Twain [2:01]
9. Wang Meets Bensonmum [4:12]
10. The Charlestons Arrive [4:13]
11. Yetta [1:59]
12. Bensonmum & Perrier [2:57]
13. "I Don't Kiss." [6:09]
14. Before-Dinner Drinks [2:49]
15. Miss Jessica Marbles [1:40]
16. Wine Test [5:54]
17. Lionel Twain [5:44]
18. Chain of Fools [2:02]
19. Examining Bensonmum [3:49]
20. Filled With Empty People [3:55]
21. The Naked & the Dead [3:34]
22. Two of Everything [2:51]
23. Twain Murdered! [3:08]
24. Theories & Motives [8:15]
25. Murder by Death [4:20]
26. The Room Gets Shorter [1:32]
27. The Crime Is Solved? [5:46]
28. Simple & Direct Solution [4:56]
Side #2 -- Full Screen
0. Scene Selections
1. Start [2:44]
2. The Invitations [2:06]
3. Dick & Dora Charleston [1:09]
4. Sidney Wang [2:24]
5. Milo Perrier [1:02]
6. Sam Diamond [2:01]
7. The Bridge Test [1:07]
8. 22 Twain [2:01]
9. Wang Meets Bensonmum [4:12]
10. The Charlestons Arrive [4:13]
11. Yetta [1:59]
12. Bensonmum & Perrier [2:57]
13. "I Don't Kiss." [6:09]
14. Before-Dinner Drinks [2:49]
15. Miss Jessica Marbles [1:40]
16. Wine Test [5:54]
17. Lionel Twain [5:44]
18. Chain of Fools [2:02]
19. Examining Bensonmum [3:49]
20. Filled With Empty People [3:55]
21. The Naked & the Dead [3:34]
22. Two of Everything [2:51]
23. Twain Murdered! [3:08]
24. Theories & Motives [8:15]
25. Murder by Death [4:20]
26. The Room Gets Shorter [1:32]
27. The Crime Is Solved? [5:46]
28. Simple & Direct Solution [4:56]

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Murder by Death 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
freddiwithneye More than 1 year ago
Yes, this is one of the best spoofs ever. But why not? Written by the best! Acted by the best! But the topper was when this movie first came out and my brother said, "Hey did you see that new movie -- 'Death by Dying'" You'll also like "Cheap Detective" for the same reasons.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I first found this film about 20 years ago. It has ALWAYS been my favorite. When I was young, I just thought it was goofy. Now that I'm older and have seen many of the films it parodies, I feel it is brilliant. The acting is great, and the jokes are timeless. I would love to see a stage version somwhere. Watch this movie!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Murder By Death brings together some of the best actors and actresses for a murder mystery comedy that will keep you laughing through the whole movie! Maggie Smith, David Niven and Peter Sellers are the best parts of this movie but the entire cast is wonderful too. Highly Recommended!
Guest More than 1 year ago
There is no one word to describe this halarious film. At shortest it would need 200,000,000 words or more. It is definatly the funniest spoof of a mystery ever made. If you are interested enough to read this review...you will apsolutly love and enjoy every minute, none the less every second of it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have watched this movie over 50 times and I would have to say I see something new every time. I obviously never tire of watching this movie. The humor is often subtle but always timeless. A real gem of a film.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I could go on and on forever on how good this mystery spoof is. I will limit it though. The jokes are clever, the actors are hilarious and the end is fantastic. Peter Sellers, Peter Faulk, Truman Capote, and the others are histarical. You will laugh so hard. If you are a mystery buff, or have seen the occasional Poroit, or any other mystery, this will be even funnier. They think of everyhting. You have to see this movie, or you will be missing out on one of the, or even the funniest comedy/mystery probably EVER!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This movie is by no doubt the most spectacular movie ever! The mystery is unlike any other, and the humor if it all is just priceless. Definately a must see.
DanCamBull More than 1 year ago
This movie is a classic with a terrific cast that will keep you laughing. I recommend it to anyone who likes Clue and other movies like that.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
If you like movies beofre they went Hollywodd and big budget, this is the one. It has someof the best acting byactors who know how to not take themselves too seriously. If you spent hours as a child playing the game of clue, then don't water your time with any other movie!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This movie is a great movie if you're in the mood for a suspensful comedy. I love it! Acting is supurb, casting is wonderful.