A lot of folks remember Clue, the 1985 comedy based on both the board game and classic Agatha Christie-style one-of-us-trapped-in-this-mansion-is-a-killer mysteries. It had three alternate endings and an all-star cast of seven, but it was nothing on the earlier, surprisingly forgotten spoof Murder by Death. Neil Simon’s parody of the genre gave us a dozen stars, half a dozen famous detectives, and about half a dozen endings. (Let’s just say that the Scooby-Doo-esque latex mask surprise/reveal is used and reused well beyond the point of absurdity.) Peter Sellers is the movie’s Charlie Chan character; David Niven and Maggie Smith its Nick and Nora Charles, Peter Falk its Sam Spade, Elsa Lanchester its Miss Marple, and James Coco its Hercule Poirot. Add to the mix some wacky servants (Alec Guinness, Nancy Walker, Estelle Winwood, and a young James Cromwell) and an eccentric host (Truman Capote, essentially playing his own bizarre self), and you have an evening of pure, lethal silliness.
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