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Murder By Death

4.6 out of 5 stars 599 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

The world's greatest detectives have been invited to dinner. But when murder is on the menu, who will make it to dessert? You are cordially invited to join an all-star cast featuring Peter Sellers, David Niven, Peter Falk, James Coco, Elsa Lanchester, Maggie Smith, Alec Guinness, Eileen Brennan, Nancy Walker, James Cromwell and Estelle Winwood for Neil Simon's hilarious murder-mystery spoof MURDER BY DEATH. The isolated mansion of eccentric millionaire Lionel Twain (celebrated author Truman Capote in a Golden Globe(r) -nominated performance) is the setting for the twisted puzzler. Twain informshis guests that one of them will be murdered at the stroke of midnight. The pay-off: $1 million to whoever lives through the night. MURDER BY DEATH neatly lampoons both the mystery genre and the characterizations of these instantly recognizable gumshoes. Match wits with the super sleuths, but remember, you can't win if you end up dying from laughter!

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Peter Falk, David Niven, Maggie Smith, Peter Sellers
  • Directors: Robert Moore
  • Producers: Ray Stark
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Portuguese, Korean, Mandarin Chinese, Thai, English, Spanish
  • Dubbed: Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
    Some Region 1 DVDs may contain Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE). Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called "region-free" DVD players. For more information on RCE, click .
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: December 18, 2001
  • Run Time: 95 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (599 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005RDRO
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,153 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Murder By Death" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
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.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The movie is an excellent spoof of all the mystery detectives that hold out vital bits of information until the final pages....I'm not a huge Neil Simon fan but this one is just plain fun. It helps that I grew up reading Christie, watching the Thin Man movies, etc.

Potential purchasers should be aware, though, that the DVD release isn't remastered that well, and in fact scenes are cut that are present in the video! Scenes that, in my opinion, are among the funniest in the movie.

Buy the DVD for an archival copy of a great movie if you like; but you may want to find a used VHS copy for the full movie experience.
4 Comments 59 of 61 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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By A Customer on May 7, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
Hilarious beyond compare. That describes "Murder by Death." Spoofing everyone from Miss Marple to Sam Spade, Charlie Chan to The Thin Man, and everyone in between, Neil Simon's script (outdoing such Simon classics as "The Odd Couple") is so far out there that one can only fall in love with this movie.
Being a big fan of mysteries, parodies, and all-star casts, this was the movie for me. The whole cast has a ball and hams it up to High Heaven. I love David Niven and Maggie Smith as Dick and Dora Charleston. Smith especially soars, giving an offhanded, almost nonchalant performance that leaves you rolling in the aisles. Elsa Lanchester is great as Jessica Marbles, and Estelle Winwood, in a very small role, gets a few good lines as her senile nurse. (Watch for their entrance!) James Coco is a comic riot as the always-hungry Monsieur Perrier. Peter Sellers is classic again as Inspector Wang (with every line funnier than the last). He has more proverbs than all the fortune cookies in Chinatown: "Treacherous road like-a fresh mushroom..." Peter Falk is insane as really-not-quite-there Sam Diamond, and Truman Capote gets in a fun cameo appearance as their puckish host, Lionel Twain. Smith, Coco, Sellers, and Falk shine. But two of the best performances are in rather small roles played by a pre-"Star Wars" Sir Alec Guiness (so don't expect to hear the Force theme on his entrance) showing his comedic talent as the blind butler, Bensonmum, and "Rhoda" alum, the great Nancy Walker, as the deaf-and-dumb cook, Yetta. These two have some of the funniest scenes in film history, each playing marvelously off the other's shortcomings.
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1 Comment 57 of 61 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: DVD
I will never forget the day a college professor of mine bad-mouthed this movie. He hated anything with Neil Simon's name on it. Well, I must say he seriously lost credibilty with me at that very moment... This is the classic spoof on Hollywood's murder mysteries. "Clue" pales in comparison. Just look at the casts.
The performances are outstanding (indeed these are final performances for several of the cast members). And yes, I love Neil Simon's over-the-top one-liners and sight gags, and this talented cast can pull them off. Truly this is a showcase of lively writing and brilliant comedic acting.
OK -- now here's my grumpiness (which I did not allow to lower my rating of the overall film) -- what happened to the original cover art? Is Peter Falk really the star? It makes it look like a Columbo episode.
Second, the gag ending is missing. Isn't this what DVD is all about? It should have at least been included as a "deleted scene." Ah well, perhaps there will be a special edition later on down the road -- get a commentary out of the remaining actors before they are all gone!
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Topic From this Discussion
What was wrong with this movie
hell yes, MDT! wise one seems not to be so wise........
May 19, 2008 by M. Alarid |  See all 3 posts
Alternate Sherlock Holmes ending
I also saw this ending on the version broadcast for television...I cannot find it either, but it was hilarious!!
Jul 16, 2007 by Douglas J. Carroll Jr. |  See all 6 posts
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