Murder by Death

1976 film by Robert Moore

Murder by Death is a 1976 comedy film that spoofs the traditional whodunit mystery. The five greatest detectives are assembled in a remote mansion for a "dinner and a murder" weekend.

Directed by Robert Moore. Written by Neil Simon.
You are cordially invited to dinner…and a murder! taglines

Inspector Sidney Wang

  • Conversation like television set on honeymoon…not necessary.
  • Questions like athlete's foot…after a while, very irritating.
  • Man who argue with cow on wall like train with no wheels, very soon get nowhere.
  • Treacherous road like fresh mushroom...must always— [Willie drives the car away.] Idiot! Not finish mushroom story! You Idiot!
  • Someone gone to great trouble to make welcome guests, not so welcome.
  • Son will get bags. That is why I adopted him.
  • Big house like man married to fat woman…hard to get around.
  • No pulse. No heartbeat. If condition does not change, this man is dead.
  • Answer simple, but question, very hard.
  • Someone just put deadly snake in room. Wake me when it come near bed.
  • You feed cat…dog food?
  • Miss Marbles, I have admired you since I was tiny little detective.
  • Voice come from cow on wall!
  • Room filled with empty people.
  • He loved me very much, but he was not very observant. One day when I was nineteen, he called me to his study, realized for the first time that I was Oriental, and kicked me out of house!
  • Went back to theory seldom used today: "Butler Did It."

Milo Perrier

  • You should not speak with an accent when you know I'm so hungry.
  • Monsieur Twain, we have been here nearly four hours and there has not been a hint of a hot dinner or a cold corpse. I must therefore bid you adieu.
  • You don't have to say "dead butler." It's bad enough I have to put my hand in his pocket.
  • One of us will be one million dollars richer, and one of us will be going to the gas chamber to be hung.
  • Forgive me, but I was talking about patricide, not uncle-cide.
  • Mr. Twain would come to France every season…to hunt poodles.
  • I am not a Frenchie, I'm a Belgie!
  • You look taller to me. Why is that?
  • As a man you are barely passable, but as a woman you are a dog.

Tess Skeffington

  • There's nothing on him until '46, when he was picked up in El Paso, Texas for trying to smuggle a truckload of rich, white Americans across the border into Mexico to pick melons. He was sent to the Dallas state hospital for mental observation.
  • Please, excuse Sam. He was shot in the head last week. He shouldn't even be out of the hospital.

Sam Diamond

  • Why don't you ask the moose on the wall? He's been watching us since we came in.
  • All right, we'll take turns. You look over the first dead, naked body that we find and I'll look over the second.
  • That can only mean one thing—and I don't know what it is!
  • My motive is unimportant—let's just say I hated him enough to kill him.
  • Where was ya, Wang? We was worried.

Dick Charleston

  • The motive is simple: ego. If we were not to solve this crime, he would indeed be named the world's foremost detective. And with an ego like his, the fact that he had to die for it would be a small price to pay.


  • Ten people for dinner, and I'm serving them hot nothing! You can't get good help today.

Dora Charleston

  • I don't understand. Why would anybody want to steal a dead, naked body? (after she is told in a whisper:) Oh. That's tacky.
  • I want you to know, Dickie darling, that if you're the murderer, I'll still love you. I don't think it would be right for us to make love, but I'd still love you.

Lionel Twain

  • You've all been so clever for so long you've forgotten to be humble. You tricked and fooled your readers for years. You've tortured us all with surprise endings that make no sense. You've introduced characters in the last five pages who were never in the book before! You 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 how I've outsmarted you, they'll be selling your $1.95 books for $.12!


Willie Wang: ...I covered him (Twain's body) up, Pop...I can't believe you missed it. The world's five greatest living detectives, and not one of you noticed that Twain was clutching a note in his hand!
Sidney Wang: Give it to me.
Willie: No, it's mine.
Milo Perrier: Oh, give it to your father, you idiot!
Willie: (gloating) "Idiot!?" We'll see who's the idiot, Mr. Perrier! The $1 million goes to whoever solves the crime, and that could be me just as easily as you! I've got more brains than my father gives me credit for! "#3 Adopted Son?" I'm sick and tired of being just your #3 Adopted Son. I'm Willie Wang, Young Detective! This clue belongs to me, and nobody's getting it from me, you understand? Nobody!
Sam Diamond: (with his gun leveled at Willie's head) Better stand back, Tess. I don't want you to get hurt when the bullet comes out his other ear. (takes the note and reads) "Please call dairy and cancel future deliveries of milk; Lionel Twain deceased." (hands back the note) So much for your clue, kid.
Willie: (very sheepish) Uhm...Sorry about that, Dad.

Dr. Watson: ...I say, old boy! Could you possibly direct us to - Hello, it's Mr. Sidney Wang!
Sherlock Holmes: Good evening, Mr. Wang.
Sidney Wang: Good evening. You need directions to where?
Watson: Ah, yes - We've been cordially invited to dinner and a murder by one Mr. Lionel Twain.
Willie Wang: Lionel Twain!? Listen, you guys don't want -
Sidney: (cutting him off) Never mind him, please. You just go up this road, past bridge, "22 Twain." No can miss it.
Watson: Ever so much obliged! Good day, then! (He and Holmes drive off)
Willie: I don't get it, Pop! Why didn't you just tell them it was all a ripoff?
Sidney: Ah, let idiots find out for themselves! Drive, please.

Dick Charleston: Darling, I smell crime in the air!
Dora Charleston: I'm not surprised; you just ran over a small animal.

Dora Charleston: What a godforsaken spot to get lost!
Dick Charleston: Yes, I saw a much better spot a few miles back.

Dick Charleston: I say, you don't happen to have a seen a little white...Wang!
Willie Wang: A white wang?
Dick Charleston: Good heavens, Sidney Wang! What are you doing in this godforsaken spot?
Sydney Wang: No doubt same as you: looking for bridge that lead to home of host, Mr. Lionel Twain.

Tess Skeffington: If you ask me, Sam, this is a wild goose chase.
Sam Diamond: Nobody asked you, baby.
Tess Skeffington: Yes, they did. You asked me. You asked me back there if I—
Sam Diamond: That was then. This is now. And nobody knows what tomorrow will be. That's the way things are, whether we like it or not.

Sidney Wang: Weight of two men may be too much for bridge.
Willie Wang: Then why do I get to drive the car?
Sidney Wang: Because I smart enough to get out first.

Willie Wang: Are you nuts, Pop? Someone's trying to kill us!
Sidney Wang: Yes, should make exciting weekend. Ring, please.
Willie Wang: I wish it was Monday morning.

(A dark figure walks past a draped window above)
Sidney Wang: Did you see that?
Willie Wang: No.
Sidney Wang: Neither did I.

Sidney Wang: Strange weather: storm only outside, when...inside.
Butler: Oh, that. That's just one of Mr. Twain's little toys.

Dora Charleston: What's your name?
Butler: Bensonmum.
Dora Charleston: Thank you, Benson.
Butler: No, no. Bensonmum- my name is Bensonmum.
Dick Charleston: Bensonmum?
Butler: Yes, sir. Jamessir Bensonmum.
Dick Charleston: Jamessir?
Butler: Yes, sir?
Dick Charleston: Jamessir Bensonmum?
Butler: (slightly annoyed) Yes, sir.
Dick Charleston: How odd.
Butler: My father's name, sir.
Dick Charleston: What was your father's name?
Butler: Howard. Howard Bensonmum.
Dick Charleston: Your father's name was Howard Bensonmum?
Dora Charleston: Leave it alone Dickie, I've had enough.

Tess Skeffington: Twain picked up Sam in a gay bar.
Sam Diamond: I was workin' a case!!!
Tess Skeffington: Oh, Sam - every night for six months?!

Willie Wang: Why would anyone want to hire a blind butler?
Sidney Wang: For one thing, very cheap. How butler know how much he get paid?

Dick Charleston: Up there, Dora, look - the blind butler.
Dora Charleston: Don't let him park the car, Dickie.

Dick Charleston: Died of what?
Butler: She murdered herself in her sleep, sir.
Dick Charleston: You mean suicide?
Butler: Oh, no. It was murder, all right. Mrs. Twain hated herself.

Marcel: You have chocolate on your face.
Milo Perrier: What?
Marcel: The candy bar, it is all over your face.
Milo Perrier: That is my moustache.
Marcel: Lick it and see.

Sam Diamond: And I owe Ms. Skeffington here three years and two months back pay. Ain't that right, angel?
Tess Skeffington: I don't care about the money, Sam.
Sam Diamond: Neither do I.

Dora Charleston: Mr. Diamond, you have a bullet hole in your back!
Sam Diamond: You should see the other guy.

Milo Perrier: One moment. Where is the soup?
Butler: In your dish.
Milo Perrier: There is nothing in my dish but my dish.
Butler: (sipping from empty spoon) I see what you mean, sir. If you'll excuse me, I'd better have a little talk with the cook.

Dick Charleston: Just as I thought. Another test that could have cost us our lives, saved only by the fact that I am enormously well-bred.
Sam Diamond: Lucky it wasn't me; I'da been chopped liver by now.

Sidney Wang: What meaning of this, Mr. Twain?
Lionel Twain: I will tell you, Mr. Wang, if you can tell me why a man who possesses one of the most brilliant minds of this century can't say his prepositions or articles. The, Mr. Wang. What is the meaning of this?
Sidney Wang: That what I said: what meaning of this?

Jessica Marbles: What is it?
Milo Perrier: A bill. Everything here has been rented for tonight - the butler, the cook, the food, the dining room chairs, everything.
Jessica Marbles: You mean...?
Milo Perrier: Yes, this entire murder has been...catered.

Milo Perrier: He's gone.
Jessica Marbles: Who's gone?
Milo Perrier: The butler. His body is missing. Here's the key
Sidney Wang: If butler gone, where you find key?
Milo Perrier: In his pocket.
Jessica Marbles: What pocket?
Milo Perrier: The butler's pocket.
Sidney Wang: Butler gone but pocket still there?
Milo Perrier: Exactly.

Sidney Wang: Man who argue with cow on wall is like train without wheels - very soon get nowhere.
Milo Perrier: Oh, be quiet. I'm sick of your fortune cookies.
Sidney Wang: Oh, man who is sick of fortune cookie...

Milo Perrier: What do you make of all of this, Wang?
Sidney Wang: Is confusing.
Lionel Twain: It! It is confusing. Say your goddamn pronouns!

Sam Diamond: I don't get it. First they steal the body and leave the clothes, then they steal the clothes and bring the body back. Who'd do a thing like that?
Dick Charleston: Possibly some deranged dry cleaner.

Milo Perrier: When is a dining room filled with people not a dining room filled with people?
Jessica Marbles: When it is two dining rooms!

(Perrier has just returned to the room, looking disheveled in the butler's clothes)
Milo Perrier: Don't ask me!
Dick Charleston: What are you doing in the butler's uniform?
Milo Perrier: I said don't ask me! I don't know. It all happened so quickly!

Dora Charleston: Is he dead?
Sam Diamond: With a thing like that in his back, in the long run, he's better off.

(Sam fires his gun at the ceiling to get everyone's attention)
Sam Diamond: Shut up, all of youse! Nobody move! Stay where you are, everybody!
Dick Charleston: What is it?
Sam Diamond: I haveta go to the can again! I don't want to miss nothin'!

Willie Wang: Why do I do all the dirty work, Pop?
Sidney Wang: Because your mother not here to do it.

Sidney Wang: One moment, please. Very interesting theory, Mr. Charleston, but you overlook one very important point.
Dick Charleston: And that is?
Sidney Wang: (giggling) Is stupid. Is most stupid theory I ever heard!

Tess Skeffington: He wasn't my father, he was my uncle. He was very good to me; he'd take me to the circus and give me candy. We stopped going when I was about 26. I'm sorry, Sam.
Sam Diamond: 26? What the hell kinda circus was it?

Willie Wang: Pop?
Sidney Wang: Yes?
Willie Wang: Who do you think is the murderer?
Sidney Wang: Must sleep on it. Will know in morning when wake up.
Willie Wang: What if you don't wake up?
Sidney Wang: Then you did it.

Jessica Marbles: Good God - gas!
Miss Withers: I'm sorry, I can't help it. I'm old.
Jessica Marbles: No, no. The other kind of gas. The kind that kills!
Miss Withers: Sometimes my gas...

Marcel: Oh, you are unfair! I will tell everyone that you wear a toupée.
Milo Perrier: They already know!
Marcel: Then why do you wear it?
Milo Perrier: I didn't know that you knew.
Marcel: Certainly I know. It is a terrible toupée.

Butler: Very clever of you, Mr. Wang. As you can see, I can see.
Sydney Wang: So I see.
Butler: Tell me, as the only survivor, how did you deduce it was me?
Sydney Wang: Went back to theory seldom used today: butler did it.
Butler: I hadn't thought of that.

Sidney Wang: There, voice come from cow on wall!
Lionel Twain: Moose! Moose, you imbecile!
Milo Perrier: Where are they?! What have you done with the others, you short madman!
Lionel Twain: Aha! Stumped already! Need some clues, Monsieur Perrier?
Milo Perrier: Clues? I need no clues from you- I'll find my own clues, you demented lollipop!

Sydney Wang: Door locked.
Jessica Marbles: Sam Diamond probably locked it from the inside as a precaution.
Sydney Wang: Good thinking on Diamond head.

Willie Wang: I don't get it, Pop - was there a murder or wasn't there?
Sydney Wang: Yes, killed good weekend! Drive, please.

Dick Charleston: Now, let's see what we have here. We have one missing, dead, naked butler; one host with a butcher's knife in his back; and one poisonous scorpion crawling up our sheets.
Dora Charleston: Oh, is that what that is?
Dick Charleston: Yes. They can kill instantly; I suggest we don't move.
Dora Charleston: For how long?
Dick Charleston: Quite possibly, the rest of our lives.

Sam Diamond: You did good, Tess. How'd you find out all that information?
Tess Skeffington: I wrote to Twain and asked him.
Sam Diamond: Good thinking.

Butler: I'll get your bags sir.
Sydney Wang: No, son do that, that is why I adopted him.
Butler: Very good, sir.

Marcel: Zer is something very creepy about this monsieur, I can feel it in my buns.
Milo Pierre: Buns? Buns! You brought buns and you didn't tell me!
Marcel: No monsieur, I am talking about the buns in my body.
Milo Pierre: You should not speak in an accent when you know I am hungry.


  • You are cordially invited to dinner…and a murder!


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