Murder by Death (1976) - Rotten Tomatoes

Murder by Death (1976)

TOMATOMETER

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AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

Neil Simon's comic tribute to detective films begins when a reclusive millionaire invites a number of famed detectives, each a parody of a famous literary sleuth, to dinner. Naturally, a series of murders soon begins, and the humorous race to be the first to solve the mystery is on.more
Rating: PG
Genre: Mystery & Suspense, Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: Neil Simon
In Theaters:
On DVD: Dec 18, 2001
Runtime:
Sony Pictures Entertainment

Cast

Peter Falk
as Sam Diamond
Eileen Brennan
as Tess Skeffington
David Niven
as Dick Charleston
Maggie Smith
as Dora Charleston
Alec Guinness
as Bensonmum
Truman Capote
as Lionel Twain
James Coco
as Insp. Milo Perrier
Peter Sellers
as Insp. Sidney Wang
Elsa Lanchester
as Miss Jessica Marbles
Nancy Walker
as Yetta the Maid
Estelle Winwood
as Miss Withers
James Cromwell
as Marcel the chauffeur
Richard Narita
as Willie Wang
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Murder by Death

Critic Reviews for Murder by Death

All Critics (17) | Top Critics (4)

Murder by Death is a very good silly-funny Neil Simon satirical comedy, with a super all-star cast cavorting as recognizable pulp fiction detectives gathered at the home of Truman Capote, wealthy hedonist fed up with contrived gumshoe plots.

Full Review… | October 3, 2007
Variety
Top Critic

Stunningly unfunny.

Full Review… | October 3, 2007
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Director Moore and writer Neil Simon seem to have no real affection for either the characters they plunder mercilessly for laughs, or the locked room puzzle they turn on its head. Introductions over, the film slides downhill.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

As light and insubstantial as one could wish.

Full Review… | May 9, 2005
New York Times
Top Critic

If it was funny, I missed it.

Full Review… | December 27, 2015
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

This spoof of the great fictional-film detectives offers consistently funny scenes.

Full Review… | October 3, 2007
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Audience Reviews for Murder by Death

½

If you know the historical touchstones from early 20th century crime fiction, this is a fantasticly funny film. Any how can you not LOVE Truman Capote?! Q: How do you stay looking so young? Answer: "A pure vegitable diet, 10 hours of sleep at night, and LOTS and LOTS of makeup."

cchclaw
Christian C

Super Reviewer

Really really enjoyable. Perfect Sunday afternoon faire. And Maggie Smith is smokin hot. Oh Minerva McGonagall!

kenstachnik
Ken Stachnik

Super Reviewer

Sidney Wang: No pulse, no heartbeat. If condition does not change, this man is dead. 

"You are cordially invited to dinner... and a murder!"

I really loved this stupid spoof of the murder mystery genre. Murder by Death is hilarious film that is pure fun from start to finish. All of the characters were funny, but the two I loved the most were Wang and Diamond. Wang is an Asian played by Peter Sellers. How is that not going to be hilarious? Diamond is played by Columbo himself, Peter Falk. Both of these actors and a great supporting cast featuring Maggie Smith, Truman Capote and James Cromwell make for one hell of an entertaining comedy. 

The five best detectives are invited to a mansion where the owner, Lionel Twain promises them dinner and a murder. Each detective and their second are greeted by someone trying to kill them by making a piece of the building fall. Then they are shown to their rooms by a blind butler. And their meal will be cooked by a woman who can't speak or hear, and the butler doesn't know this because he can't see he note cards saying she can't speak. This is the type of humor you should be expecting throughout the whole film.

Murder by Death is perfectly paced and also has a perfect runtime. It knows, like all the good spoofs do, not to overstay its welcome. Comedy like this can only be funny for so long, and when Murder by Death ends it is still funny. This film combines slapstick humor and stereotype humor into the murder mystery plot with great results. There is very little that the characters say that isn't at least mildly amusing, and a great deal of the time, hilarious. 

This is kind of a forgotten and under appreciated comedy from the 1970's. I would give it a recommendation on Seller's alone, but everything else about it is great too. The ending wasn't as funny as it should have been or as funny as Neil Simon probably thought it was, but overall I can't say enough about the film.

Sidney Wang: And you Mr. Charleston, did not approve of Mrs. Charleston dying her hair blonde?
Dick Charleston: What do you mean? 
Sidney Wang: Mrs. Charleston's hair red. You have blond hairs on shoulder. This means she has dyed red hair blonde, then back again to red, or else you have been... So sorry, Wang is wrong. 

blkbomb
Melvin White

Super Reviewer

Murder by Death Quotes

Miss Jessica Marbles: Hello, where is everyone?
Insp. Sidney Wang: Room filled with empty people
– Submitted by Arun P (9 months ago)
Sam Diamond: Stop that. Stop that, I said.
Dick Charleston: What is it, Diamond?
Sam Diamond: The nurse is giving my palm the finger, the dirty old broad.
– Submitted by Jeff G (2 years ago)
Dora Charleston: That's probably the cook...come in!
Dick Charleston: Darling, the poor woman is stone deaf.
Dora Charleston: I'm sorry, I forgot...COME IN!
– Submitted by Tracy K (3 years ago)
Sam Diamond: You're good, Charleston. You're not my kind of cop, but you're smart and you smell good.
– Submitted by Tracy K (3 years ago)

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