MURDER BY DEATH
1976, Sony Repertory (Columbia), 94 min, USA, Dir: Robert Moore

Eccentric millionaire Truman Capote invites six of the world’s greatest detectives to his mansion for “dinner and a murder.” When the sleuths (Peter Sellers, David Niven, Maggie Smith, James Coco, Peter Falk and Elsa Lanchester) arrive and discover that the host is the apparent victim, they attempt to solve the puzzle and survive the evening themselves. Neil Simon’s dazzling script parodies virtually all the conventions of the murder mystery while throwing in enough red herrings to keep the audience guessing until the very end. With Alec Guinness.


THE PARTY
1968, MGM Repertory, 99 min, Dir: Blake Edwards

For most of its length, THE PARTY is a wonderfully restrained homage to Jacques Tati, with Peter Sellers in perfect pitch as an awestruck Indian actor who disrupts a chic Hollywood gathering with the help of French songbird Claudine Longet and an elephant. The final 15 minutes prove that any great joke deserves a totally outrageous punchline. Look for Steve Franken as an inebriated waiter and Denny Miller as a hilarious rhinestone cowboy


A SHOT IN THE DARK
1964, MGM Repertory, 99 min, Dir: Blake Edwards

Blake Edwards’ follow-up to THE PINK PANTHER is a non-stop barrage of pratfalls, sight gags and linguistic nonsense, courtesy of Inspector Clouseau (Peter Sellers). Everything seems freshly minted, from Herbert Lom’s hysterics as Chief Inspector Dreyfus to Burt Kwouk’s first appearance as Cato.


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