Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Film & Water Podcast Episode 12: Murder By Death



Host Rob Kelly welcomes longtime Nuclear Sub LUKE DAAB to talk about one of their favorite films, Neil Simon's 1975 mystery/comedy MURDER BY DEATH, starring Alec Guinness, David Niven, Maggie Smith, Peter Sellers, Peter Falk, and more! Say your goddamn pronouns!

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  1. I am so glad you guys chose to spotlight Murder By Death, a film I've loved since I was a kid. I'm a sucker for those all-star whodunnits from the 1970s and 1980s: Murder on the Orient Express, Death on the Nile, Evil Under the Sun, etc. It's a silly film in the best sense of the word.

    TCM runs The Cheap Detective every so often. I saw it as a kid and again when it aired this summer. I don't think it's nearly as strong as MBD. There are some funny moments, has a stellar cast, and is a love letter to Bogie but it lacks something. And my god, when Ann-Margret turns up near the end! She is "hot" personified.

    Two films I'd humbly suggest as topics for future episodes that share something in common with MBD:

    1. It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World: Like MBD it has a once in a lifetime cast who is obviously enjoying itself. It has a anarchic spirit and wonderful car chases!

    2. Deathtrap: I just caught this mystery with Michael Caine and Christopher Reeve on TCM recently. I saw it as a kid and was truly surprised by the twists near the end.

  2. I don't think I've ever even HEARD of this film, but now I want to see it. I did catch the tail end of The Cheap Detective on TCM a while back, but I was kind of lost on what I was watching there. I think I'm going to have to go to Youtube on my lunchbreak tomorrow and give this a try!


  3. I used to have this movie on VHS, but when I started transitioning my collection to DVD and digital, this one got left behind for some reason. This was such a good movie and sadly, I had almost completely forgotten about it until Luke suggested it on Facebook. Great coverage of this extraordinary film!

    I was a big Peter Falk fan already from Columbo and The In-Laws, and I knew Sellers from Pink Panther, obviously. I had seen the first Thin Man movie (still the only one of that series that I've watched). The other detective characters, like Sam Spade and Charlie Chan I knew by reputation, so it was great seeing these types of characters play off each other, even in such an outrageous setting.

    You guys talked about whether this type of comedy could happen today. I read somewhere once that Cheers was the last TV show written by people who grew up reading books not watching TV. I think that shows in how literary that show could be. Simon's humor in Murder by Death owes to his theater background; it's all about the language itself. Word play, puns, repeating catch phrases, and jokes that punctuate visual gags rather than depending on pratfall.

    Comedy today is self-referential and based on the violation of social mores. It would take someone who has grownup in isolation, never watching TV shows like The Office or movies like The Hangover to write a film with the voice of Murder by Death, and even then I can't imagine a studio wanting to produce it.

  4. The last comedy I can think of that had a similar spirit was Noises Off back in the 90s, with Chris Reeve, Carol Burnett among others. Very witty, but silly at the same time. But educated silly, as this movie seems to be.

    And yes, Luke killed it!


  5. FYI

    Murder By Death airs on TCM on `10/27!

  6. ^Got the DVR set to record! Thanks for the heads up!


  7. I saw this for the first time on the recommendation of a friend...loved it! Was just thinking I'd have to check and see if I could get it from Netflix or find it on a streaming site...but TCM, even better! Thanks!