Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Movie Poster Spotlight :: Foreign Jobs :: A Set of Italian Photobustas for Robert Moore's Murder By Death (1976)











Speaking frankly,  Murder By Death (1976) didn't do a whole lot for me when first encountered, but it has grown on me considerably with each successive viewing. The plot of throwing a bunch of old school literary detectives from the pages of Dashiell Hammett (Sam Spade, Nick and Nora Charles), Agatha Christie (Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot) and Earl Derr Biggers (Charlie Chan) into an Old Dark House Murder Mystery is a bit inspired as far as spoofs go, but if there is one problem with Neil Simon's script it's that all these characters crammed into one place aren't given any space to breath, with only James Coco's prissy and buffoonish take on Poirot making any real hay out of this crowded ensemble. The interplay with his chauffeur (James Cromwell) is hilarious. And Alec Guinness, of course, is hilarious but he has the advantage of interacting with everyone. The rest of the casting is spot on, mind you, I just wish they were all given just a little bit more to do.


Murder by Death (1976) Rastar Pictures :: Columbia Pictures / P: Ray Stark / AP: Roger M. Rothstein / D: Robert Moore / W: Neil Simon / C: David M. Walsh / E: John F. Burnett / M: Dave Grusin / S: Peter Falk, Alec Guinness, Peter Sellers, James Coco, Eileen Brennan, Elsa Lanchester, David Niven, Maggie Smith, Nancy Walker, Estelle Winwood, James Cromwell, Richard Narita

3 comments:

Josh Shepherd said...

I thought Peter Falk and Eileen Brennan got quite a bite of mileage out of their roles. But the kicker for me these days, which I could not have appreciated when I saw the movie back when I was 11, is Dame Elsa Lanchester's take on Miss Marple. She makes the most out of her grand entrance into the movie in which an enfeebled old lady is brought in a wheelchair and all the actors stand in honor, only to have Elsa delivering a robust welcome and appreciation. Talk about a joke buried deep within a comic parody...

Randy Monk said...

I wouldn't say my comment has nothing to do with this movie, but it is close. Everytime I think of this movie, I think of Maggie Smith. And whenever, I think of Maggie Smith, I remember the fantastically titled MAD spoof; THE PRIME OF MISS JEAN'S BODY. The movie it spoofed was terrible (a slight that I never forgave a girlfriend who drug me to it in 1969), and to tell you the truth, the MAD spoof was also pretty lame. But, part of the greatness of that eras MAD issues were the titles.

W.B. Kelso said...

Agreed. Lanchester was equally fantastic. As was Niven and Smith and the film could've used a lot more of them.

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