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Murder By Death August 26, 2007

Posted by Shujath in English, Movies, Reviews.
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This 1973 flick is one hillarious spoof which takes on the most celebrated movie detectives of those times. I only knew about Humphrey Bogart’s “Sam Spade” among them but that didn’t stop me from smiling all throughout.

A millionare cum genius Lionel Twain (Truman Capote) invites the world’s most famous detectives over to his place for “dinner and a murder”. Twain challenges the detectives to find the culprit of a murder which according to him would take place at midnight and would involve two people in the house. There are also two other characters – the blind butler (Alec Guinness) and a dumb & deaf maid who cannot read English (Nancy Walker) to complicate the proceedings. At midnight, what Twain predicts turns to be true as he himself gets murdered. After a number of twists a farcical climax reveals what happened – leaving quite a few questions unanswered.

The humor is bang on though it kind of loses its sheen towards the final reels. The icing on the cake are the scenes between the butler and the maid; and of course Peter Sellers as the Chinese detective Sidney Wang (based on Charlie Chan) is simply brilliant. Every single scene featuring Sellers speaking is side-splitting. The rest of the cast is highly competent too.

Writer Niel Simon (The Odd Couple) uses his oddball characters with their funny one-liners to bring in most of the humor rather than explicit slapstick which dominates most movie spoofs. Robert Moore’s direction is fine. At the end of the film, Sidney Wang’s confused son asks him a question – “Did anybody actually get killed?” to which Wang replies in his inimitable accent – “Yes, killed good weekend!”. But for me, this flick indeed was a good way to enjoy the weekend.

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