Murder by Death is a movie made in 1976, at a high time for detective novels. It was directed by Robert Moore, and written by Neil Simon as a spoof of all the popularity that these detectives were having. It stars Truman Capote in his only main role in a film, as well as having a great role for Alec Guiness.
The movie begans with a chest being opened, containting cardboard cutouts of all the characters standing in front of the great Twain mansion, and the credits begin showing after the line: Starring (in diabolical order).
We are introduced to the blind butler, Jamesir Bensonmum, as he answers the call of his master, Lionel Twain. Twain plans on inviting five of the most famous detectives in the world, to a dinner... with a murder!
Sidney Wang, and his adopted Japanese son Willie Wang, is a great Chinese detective who does not speak his pronouns. The great detective loves to go into proverbs and the such. Very calm, and always knows what he's going to do about a problem. Sidney Wang's character is a parody of Charlie Chan, created by Earl Derr Biggers.
Sidney Wang: Conversation like television on honeymoon: Unneccesary!
Dick and Dora Charleston are two high-class husband and wife detectives. Always solving crimes for high prices, as they drink their martinis. Refined and well-known, they are also friends with Sidney Wang. Dick and Dora Charleston are spoofs of Nick and Nora Charles, who were created by Dashiel Hammett.
Dora Charleston: What a godforsaken place to get lost!
Dick Charleston: I'm sure I saw a much better spot a few miles back.
Milo Perrier, and his chaffeur Marcel, is a rather obese, food-obsessed Belgian detective. His mind is almost continously on either food or murder. But one can not fool his nose, nor his taste... now his mind is an entirely different matter. Milo Perrier is a spoof of Hercule Poirot, who was created by Agatha Christie.
Milo Perrier: He's gone!
Jessica Marbles: Who's gone?
Milo Perrier: The butler. Here's the key.
Sidney Wang: If butler gone, where you get key?
Milo Perrier: In his pocket.
Jessica Marbles: What pocket?
Milo Perrier: The butler's pocket.
Sidney Wang: Butler gone but pocket still there?
Sam Diamond, and his assistant Tess Skeffington, are from the hard side of town. Sam grew up on the streets learning from the detective school of hard knocks. A shady fellow, in his dirty trenchcoat and hat. Sam is a little insane. Always carries around his trusty revolver. Sam Diamond is a spoof of the hard-boiled detectives, but most of all Sam Spade, written by Dashiel Hammett. One might want to note that the Charleston's characters were also written by Hammett as there is a joke relating the two togethor in the film.
Sam Diamond: Nobody move!
Jessica Marbles: What is it, Sam?
Sam Diamond: I have to go to the bathroom again! But I don't want to miss anything!
And last but not least, is the famous Jessica Marbles, and her nurse Miss Withers. Marbles was sick for such a long time, improved and now has to take care of her old nurse. One of the oldest and most respected detectives out of the bunch. Jessica Marbles is a spoof of Miss Jane Marple, the old woman who solved detectives out of her wheelchair, created by Agatha Christie.
Jessica Marbles: I smell gas!
Miss Withers: I can't help it, I'm old.
Jessica Marbles: No, not that kind of gas! The kind that kills!
Miss Withers Well, sometimes my gas...
Lionel Twain is offering them a deal that these detectives can't refuse. At exactly at midnight, one person will be murdered in this manor that has become a prison. The detective that solves the crime will receive "one million dollars, and the marketing for the paperbacks and films."
Lionel Twain: You've tricked and fooled your readers for years. You've tortured us all with surprise endings that made no sense. You've introduced characters in the last five pages that were never in the book before. You've withheld clues and information that made it impossible for us to guess who did it. But now, the tables are turned. Millions of angry mystery readers are now getting their revenge. When the world learns I've outsmarted you, they'll be selling your $1.95 books for twelve cents.
Eileen Brennan - Tess Skeffington
Truman Capote - Lionel Twain
James Coco - Milo Perrier
Peter Falk - Sam Diamond
Alec Guinness - Jamesir Bensonmum
Elsa Lanchester - Jessica Marbles
David Niven - Dick Charleston
Peter Sellers - Sidney Wang
Maggie Smith - Dora Charleston
Nancy Walker - Yetta the maid
Estelle Winwood - Miss Withers
James Cromwell - Marcel the Chauffeur
Richard Narita - Willie Wang
Murder by Death was also followed by The Cheap Detective starring a character similar to Sam Diamond, who is once again played by Peter Falk, in his own setting. Many of the cast from Murder by Death were in the movie, such as, Eileen Brennan, James Coco, Peter Falk, and James Cromwell.
Composed through help from the IMDB, and with chatterboxers.. thank you, guys!