Murder by Death (1976)

Murder by Death
Murder by Death (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Generally given to writing sitcomish comedies that are sticky with bathos, Neil Simon uncorked his cellar of shtick for this murder-mystery parody, composed entirely of a character cast making easy hay of Sam Spade, Nick and Nora Charles, Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot, and Charlie Chan (not to mention blind butler Alec Guinness and deaf-mute maid Nancy Walker). The “world’s greatest detectives” are locked in a booby-trapped house in a rainstorm, of course (by host Truman Capote, which is the part of Murder By Death we still don’t get), but the cast (including Peter Falk, Eileen Brennan, David Niven, Elsa Lanchester, James Coco, and Peter Sellers) are savvy pros at the top of their game, and not a campy stitch is dropped.

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