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Murder by Death (1976)

“You are cordially invited to dinner and a murder” – so read the invitation sent to five world-famous detectives by Lionel Twain (Truman Capote), an eccentric millionaire living in an isolated and gloomy Victorian mansion in New England.

The guests are greeted by Jamessir Bensonmum (Sir Alec Guinness), Twain’s aged, blind butler who has secured the weekend services of a deaf, mute cook, Yetta (Nancy Walker) from a local domestic agency.

The guests include the noted Belgian police detective Milo Perrier (James Coco) – and any similarity to Hercule Poirot is purely intentional – in the company of his faithful chauffeur, Marcel (James Cromwell); Sam Diamond (Peter Falk) – a trench-coated Sam Spade clone accompanied by his girl Friday and mistress, Tess Skeffington (Eileen Brennan); England’s most famous sleuth, Dame Jessica Marbles (Elsa Lanchester) who cares for her indigent, wheelchair-ridden nurse, Miss Withers (Estelle Winwood); the inscrutable Oriental detective and ace investigator for the Cataline Island Police Force, Sidney Wang (Peter Sellers), accompanied by his ingenuous son, Willie (Richard Narita), and noted sophisticated, urbane crime solvers Dick Charleston (David Niven) and his wife Dora (Maggie Smith), and their precocious pet pooch, Myron.

At dinner – which is neither prepared nor served – the egocentric Twain reveals that’s someone in the dining room will be stabbed to death twelve times at the stroke of midnight.

Twain, the foremost authority in detective fiction, defies his famous criminologist guests to solve the forthcoming crime. The person who comes up with the solution will receive one million tax-free dollars and be proclaimed the undisputed #1 detective in the world.

The doors are locked. The windows are bolted. No one can leave before dawn on Sunday.

Rooms appear and disappear, there is a disappearing and reappearing corpse, and the champion sleuths must pit their wits against each other and against their host Twain.

Tess Skeffington
Eileen Brennan
Lionel Twain
Truman Capote
Milo Perrier
James Coco
Sam Diamond
Peter Falk
Jamessir Bensonmum
Sir Alec Guinness
Jessica Marbles
Elsa Lanchester
Dick Charleston
David Niven
Sidney Wang
Peter Sellers
Dora Charleston
Maggie Smith
Nancy Walker
Miss Withers
Estelle Winwood
James Cromwell
Willie Wang
Richard Narita

Robert Moore