4.0 out of 5 stars pretty good
This oldie is a goodie - - with wonderful actors. It is a bit silly but a surprise the first time you see it!
Published 6 months ago by Sarah Barrett
3.0 out of 5 stars Everything but the kitchen sink
This is one of those movies that has "everything", in which a collection of talented actors get together to jam in a mystery/comedy. It is a classic because of its genre and who is in it, but I did not think it was one of the great comedy classics. By way of comparison I recently watched Clockwise with John Cleese which I thought was much funnier, even if it...
Published on May 31 2003 by Cricket
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4.0 out of 5 stars pretty good,
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This review is from: Murder By Death (DVD)This oldie is a goodie - - with wonderful actors. It is a bit silly but a surprise the first time you see it!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Comedy film noir. Can you guess who the killer really is?,
This review is from: Murder By Death (DVD)You're in for a real treat! I consider this film a comedy film noir, but serious enough for the viewer to enjoy a good crime-mystery. This film has a few twists to it. Just when you think you know who the killer is, SURPRISE, they gotcha. There is plenty of fun and adult humor along the way. There is an excellent all-star cast here to enjoy: Alec Guinness, David Niven, Maggie Smith, Peter Sellers, Richard Narita, James Coco, James Cromwell, Eileen Brennan, Peter Falk, Nancy Walker, Estelle Winwood and Elsa Lanchester. If Truman Capote seems to be a little, well...different. Well, you've guessed something else, unintentionally. Yes, Truman Capote, respectfully, lived a different lifestyle. He was gay. He played "Lionel Twain" and made it a memorable performance. Maggie Smith is such a delight in this film. Sometimes I will watch this film again just for her comedic preformance. Her delivery of lines is perfect. David Niven always a class act. Peter Falk wears a trenchcoat again, which of course reminds us of his "Lt. Columbo" character which over thirty years now he is still playing on television in brand new tv-movies. It's neat to see Eileen Brennan in a good, funny role. Nancy Walker has a gem of a role. We remember her in the film, "Best Foot Forward" and the tv series "Rhoda". On this DVD version is a ten-minute conversation with Neil Simon about the casting and the making of "Murder By Death". What would have been nice is if they would have had a cast reunion for audio commentary or on-camera interviews. If you liked "Murder By Death", you might like the follow-up The Cheap Detective (1978). Peter Falk, Eileen Brennan,James Coco and James Cromwell are also showcased in this film with another different all-star cast. There is also another film simular to , but not as good as, "Murder By Death" called "Clue" (1985), based on the board game. This film also has an all-star cast, including Eileen Brennan.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One great film.,
By A Customer
This review is from: Murder By Death [Import] (VHS Tape)This movie is by far one of the most highly underrated films of all time. I love it. Everything about it is classic. You'll have to watch it a minimum of five times just to get most of the jokes and puns with in it. The set design and overall atmosphere of the movie is awsome. Would reccomend this film highly.
4.0 out of 5 stars Grade B+ Neil Simon,
This review is from: Murder By Death [Import] (VHS Tape)Despite the (mostly) excellent cast this movie production of Neil Simon's play leaves a little to be desired. In particular I think that director Robert Moore needed to work harder toward getting the timing of his players down pat and focusing the jokes. I also think it was a mistake to cast Truman Capote in the role of Lionel Twain, the eccentric millionaire who invites the five world famous detectives to his estate with the idea of matching murderous wits with them and fooling them. Although he looks the part, Capote stands out like a sore thumb amidst the much more experienced and talented cast, so much so that I almost felt sorry for him. He pronounces his lines competently but with neither flair nor finesse.
The premise of the play reveals Neil Simon's satirical intent: the characters are all caricatures of famous fictional detectives: Inspector Sidney Wang (Peter Sellers ) as a Charlie Chan type; Sam Diamond (Peter Falk) as a Sam Spade type; Inspector Milo Perrier (James Coco) as a famous Belgique detective of similar name (Agatha Christie's Poirot) who could also be Georges Simenon's famous French detective (except that he cries out, "Not Frenchie--Belgie!"). The absurd plot begins as the detectives motor toward Twain's haunted, fog-shrouded castle in northern California for a dinner that is never served. Everything is played as a farce ("farce --n. 1. a comedy based on unlikely situations and exaggerated effects." --Random House College Dictionary) and everybody tries to ham it up. I particularly liked Peter Sellers as the Chinese Wang with his #3 adopted Japanese son in tow. Alec Guinness plays the blind butler ("The butler did it!") while Nancy Walker has a small part as the blind and deaf cook. David Niven is mildly amusing as the debonaire Dick Charleston who, unbeknownst to his wife (Maggie Smith), has only a buck-seventy-some in his tuxedo pocket (and some stamps) after going through some of her millions.
Representative joke: When asked by his #3 adopted Japanese son why HE has to clean up the dead body, Inspector Wang tells him, "Because your mother isn't here." By the way, the makeup on Peter Sellers ("Inspector Slanty," according to Sam Diamond) is especially well done. As usual Peter Sellers manages to look more like the character he playing than himself, so much so that one needs to do a double take to realize it is Peter Sellers at work.
One of the problems with a movie like this is that all the actors are trying to upstage one another and every line and pratfall is played as MY moment in the spotlight so there is little contrast around which to frame the best bits. Still, afficionados, especially those viewing this repeatedly, will find plenty to crack up about.
See this for Neil Simon, one of America's most popular playwrights, whose semi-sophisticated, upbeat comedies delighted theater and movie audiences for several decades beginning in the Sixties. I particularly loved The Out-of-Towners (1970) with Jack Lemmon and Sandy Dennis; The Good-bye Girl (1977) with Richard Dreyfuss and Marsha Mason; and the unforgettable The Odd Couple (1968) starring Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. Simon and Peter Falk followed this up with The Cheap Detective (1978). Incidentally, Falk's work here and in The Cheap Detective and in a couple of earlier Columbo movies served as a proving ground for his long-running TV hit Columbo.
5.0 out of 5 stars I love this movie!!,
This review is from: Murder By Death (DVD)This movie has you guessing the whole time! The jokes are very funny, I would reccomend this to anyone who likes stupid humor defenetly worthit.
5.0 out of 5 stars The World's Greatest Movie,
This review is from: Murder By Death (DVD)My family and I affectionatly refer to this movie as the 'the world's greatest movie,' and we've seen it so often that my sister and I, when we email each other or call each other, end each message with a quote from the movie.
In order to truly appreciate the tremendous amount of laugh lines, you've got to watch it at least a dozen times. My sister and I have watched it at least 30 times if not a lot more, and just this past weekend while I was visiting her in Ithaca, she picked up on another laugh line that we'd never even noticed!
The movie seems a bit dry at first, and would probably be a better fit as a stage play; a hilarious one at that. The movie is a spoof on Agatha Christi's "And Then There Were None," and has characters who are spoofs of other TV detectives; i.e., instead of Nick and Nora Charleston, it's Dick and Dora Charleston. This movie is not necessarily for everyone, but it starts to grow on you. The first time I saw it I really didn't think it was that funny, but the more I watched, the funnier it got. Buy this movie!
5.0 out of 5 stars Truman Capote is an editor's delight,
By A Customer
This review is from: Murder By Death (DVD)Truman Capote's little gems of insight about the proper rules of grammar make this movie one of my favorites. I watch Murder by Death for the subtle and not-so subtle puns and language twists.
5.0 out of 5 stars Death by laughter,
By A Customer
This review is from: Murder By Death (DVD)My roommate and I happen to stumble across this side splitting movie just the other day. From the very moment the movie began the both of us were on the floor dying with laughter. From the uncanny way each person represented a famous mystery detective to the plain jist and out come of the plot, this is a great movie to just die over.
5.0 out of 5 stars You are cordially invited to dinner... and a murder!,
This review is from: Murder By Death (DVD)Murder By Death is one of those comedies I watch about once a year, as it always makes me laugh. Five famous detectives from the literary world are spoofed when they and their partners are invited to a mysterious mansion to witness a murder and a million dollars is offered to whomever can solve the case.
Written by Neil Simon (The Odd Couple, California Suite), this film has tons of great lines and truly wonderful performances by all the actors. There's Dick and Dora Charleston played by David Niven and Maggie Smith, Inspector Milo Perrier (I'm not a Frenchie! I'm a Belgie!) played by James Coco and his secretary/chauffeur Marcel (James Cromwell), Miss Jessica Marbles (Elsa Manchester, probably most famous for her role as the Bride of Frankenstein) and her nurse, Inspector Sidney Wang (Peter Sellers) and his number 3 adopted Japanese son Willie, and finally Sam Diamond (Peter Falk) and his secretary Tess Skeffington (Eileen Brennan). Rounding out the cast is Alec Guinness, playing the blind butler, Truman Capote as the eccentric host Lionel Twain, and Nancy Walker as the deaf and mute maid, Yetta.
Peter Sellers has always been one of my favorite comedic actors, and he certainly shines here, but, in my opinion, Peter Falk edges him out here. His comic imitation of Humphrey Bogart's Sam Spade is dead on. All the actors perform wonderfully, but watch for Alec Guinness as Jamesir Bensonmum, Lionel Twain's blind Butler. Alec Guinness is best know for his serious roles, but he did a number of very funny comedies earlier in his career, including such films as The Lavender Hill Mob, The Man in the White Suit, and Kind Hearts and Coronets.
As the clues present themselves, the speculation flies. The pacing of the film is kept brisk throughout, with snappy dialogue and excellent characterizations as Simon truly keeps the viewer engaged with a great script. The direction by Robert Moore is wonderful, keeping things from getting confusing and allowing all members of this ensemble cast to enjoy enough screen time for us to appreciate the characters. Credit must also be given to the creators of the sets, as they add so much to the overall feel of the movie.
Not a lot in the way of extras, but the picture looks great and is available in both wide screen and full screen formats. I am going to end this review with one of my favorite lines from the movie, spoken by Peter Falk playing Sam Diamond "My hat's off to the man with the shiv in his back. Except for the fact that he's dead, he was no dope."
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Murder By Death by Robert Moore (DVD - 2001)