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Murder by Death

Murder by Death (1976)


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Average Rating: N/A
Critic Reviews: 4
Fresh: 2 | Rotten: 2



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Average Rating: 3.8/5
User Ratings: 12,796

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Movie Info

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


Mystery & Suspense, Comedy

Neil Simon

Dec 18, 2001

Sony Pictures Entertainment

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All Critics (16) | Top Critics (4) | Fresh (11) | Rotten (5) | DVD (10)

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.

October 3, 2007 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Stunningly unfunny.

October 3, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader | Comment (1)
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop 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.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

As light and insubstantial as one could wish.

May 9, 2005 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

October 3, 2007 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

So it all doesn't amount to much, and -- some knuckle-dragging 'he's gay'/'no I'm not' humor aside -- it's more Scooby Doo than Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Still, it's an amusing tea-cozy of a spoof with an enjoyable cast.

June 27, 2006 Full Review Source:

Generally successful send-up of classic mysteries with a lame finale.

June 16, 2003
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

A sometime funny satire on the old murder-mystery detective series of the 1930s and '40s. Some jokes hit, while others just bomb.

January 2, 2003 | Comment (1)
Journal and Courier (Lafayette, IN)

Hit & miss mystery spoof hits more often than it misses.

July 26, 2002

Far from great.

March 5, 2002 Full Review Source:

...pokes fun at every old fictional detective you can think of and every cliché you've ever wanted to red pencil out of a script.

December 19, 2001
Movie Metropolis

Audience Reviews for Murder by Death

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."
November 11, 2012

Super Reviewer

Really really enjoyable. Perfect Sunday afternoon faire. And Maggie Smith is smokin hot. Oh Minerva McGonagall!
March 17, 2012

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. 
December 28, 2011
Melvin White

Super Reviewer

Some legendary names in this line up such as Sellers, Guinness, Falk, Lanchester, Niven and Maggie Smith but that can't quite stop it from being rather silly and slightly disappointing in my humble view. If you think along the lines of 'Clue' then you will know the angle of this film, its just a bit more off the wall and with, I think, poorer characters.

You might think that's impossible with this cast but the characters are rather cliched and disappointing, especially Sellers and his now rather racist old Chinese man character. Brennan is here too in what is almost a prequel performance as she was in 'Clue' as well but again shes not as fun in this old film, same can be said for Guinness who seems wasted.

Its not terrible but its not great either, nice sets and a lovely film poster illustrated by Charles 'The Addams Family' Addams.
November 1, 2011

Super Reviewer

Movies Like Murder by Death

    1. Sam Diamond: Stop that. Stop that, I said.
    2. Dick Charleston: What is it, Diamond?
    3. Sam Diamond: The nurse is giving my palm the finger, the dirty old broad.
    – Submitted by Jeff G (11 months ago)
    1. Dora Charleston: That's probably the cook...come in!
    2. Dick Charleston: Darling, the poor woman is stone deaf.
    3. Dora Charleston: I'm sorry, I forgot...COME IN!
    – Submitted by Tracy K (23 months ago)
    1. 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 (23 months ago)
    1. Milo Perrier: I don't like it. I don't like it one bit.
    2. Sidney Wang: I like it, but don't understand it.
    – Submitted by Tracy K (23 months ago)
    1. Sam Diamond: I owe Miss Skeffington here two years and three months back pay.
    2. Tess Skeffington: I don't care about the money, Sam.
    3. Sam Diamond: Neither do I.
    – Submitted by Tracy K (23 months ago)
    1. Tess Skeffington: Please excuse Sam. He was shot in the head last week; he shouldn't even be out of the hospital.
    – Submitted by Tracy K (23 months ago)
View all quotes (17)

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