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Top 5 Murder Mysteries


The new adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express concerns – avert your eyes, if you’re spoilerphobic – a murder that is committed on the Orient Express, the famed luxury train. If you want to know whodunnit, or why they dunnit, you’ll just have to go see the movie – or watch the Oscar-winning 1974 adaptation, or read Agatha Christie’s original novel – but we reveal a different kind of secret on this episode: our favorite cinematic murder mysteries of all time. It’s wall to wall shifty butlers, untraceable poisons, and well-timed thunderstorms.

In Worth Mentioning Tim covers the aforementioned Murder on the Orient Express, while the entire crew try managing an episode without Rob.

Rob

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
3
Memento (2000)
0
L.A. Confidential (1997)
0
Brick (2005)
2
Clue (1985)
8

Carrie

Memento (2000)
0
And Then There Were None (1945)
0
Clue (1985)
8
The Bone Collector (1999)
0
Vertigo (1958)
11

Tim

The Thin Man (1934)
0
D.O.A. (1949)
0
Chinatown (1974)
0
Laura (1944)
3
Rear Window (1954)
0

33 Responses so far.

  1. dsiliman says:

    ooo fun!

    1. Gosford Park (2001)
    2. Touch of Evil (1958)
    3. Laura (1944)
    4. The Long Goodbye (1973)
    5. Clue (1985)

    (I know Laura is a controversial pick, but I still think it counts!)

  2. Memories of Murder
    Laura
    Lone Star
    Zodiac
    Se7en

  3. Too many to mention, really. I love this genre. But:

    1. Chinatown
    2. Silence of the Lambs
    3. And Then There Were None (1945)
    4. Witness For The Prosecution
    5. The Name Of The Rose

    Honorable mentions:

    The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939)
    Tell No One (2006)
    The Hateful Eight
    Murder By Death

    Probably all the Peter Ustinov/Angela Lansbury/Helen Hayes Agatha Christie movies from the 70s and 80s.

  4. Tyler "Bio" Rodriguez says:

    Witness for the Prosecution. is it cheating to use Christie in this list? Ah I don’t care, best adaptation of any of her work, Laughton steals the show so effortlessly. Absolute classic.

  5. nitrateglow says:

    Vertigo
    Chinatown
    Rear Window
    Rebecca
    The Maltese Falcon (1941)

  6. WBTN says:

    Gonna try keeping it strictly to whodunnits, i.e. the whole film is driven by finding the murderer, and the audience doesn’t know who it is until at least the final act.

    In no particular order:

    Twelve Monkeys (apocalyptic sci-fi or not, it is about finding out who killed most of humanity)

    Se7en (my one police procedural pick. Zodiac and Memories of Murder are arguably better, but this one is more to my tastes)

    Deep Red (my sole giallo pick if I have to pick one, and probably my favorite Argento to revisit, though Tenebre is a hell of a whodunnit)

    Rear Window (Psycho might count, but this one gets to the murder much quicker)

    Who Framed Roger Rabbit (my one private eye movie, and yes it’s a parody, but I’ve watched it too many times to count it beneath Chinatown or The Maltese Falcon or Laura, no matter how great they all are)

    HM to Twin Peaks’ first season and change (better than any of these, but it’s TV), and Mother (2009)

  7. To me, what defines a murder mystery is not the murder but the fact that several people are suspected of being an enemy, the audience is drawn into speculating who, and if the mystery is good, the audience is surprised to learn who that person turns out to be. Whether the mystery is about a murder, a theft, or anything else is immaterial. But the mystery has to be central to the story. (I love The Caine Mutiny, but Capt. Queeg’s quest to uncover who stole the strawberries is not the film’s focus.)

    1. Reservoir Dogs. Reversing the usual mystery, this time everyone’s a criminal and trying to figure out which person is secretly a cop. If the reveal doesn’t stun you, you’re a better sleuth than I was.
    2. Memento. Who killed Lenny’s wife? Is it Teddy? Jimmy Grants? Or someone altogether different?
    3. The Maltese Falcon. The novel surpasses any film version, but the Bogart film still rocks. And like the novel, it cleverly throws us off track by leaving us to guess which mystery we’re supposed to solve and which ones are already closed cases.
    4. Veronica Mars. While the movie was not as good as the TV show, it still worked, and the ending startled me.
    5. My Bloody Valentine (2009). Three major suspects, and the climax brings them all together to threaten our Final Girl. No slasher film has used a mystery aspect as effectively as this one.
    6. Clockwatchers. Petty crimes, big impact.

  8. Grant Hagey says:

    1. The Thin Man
    2. After the Thin Man
    3. The Thin Man Goes Home
    4. Murder She Said
    5. Witness for the Prosecution

    Not my favorite genre. I got comedies and a trial movie.

  9. vilsal says:

    * Gosford Park (2001) – Robert Altman analyzes the best-known prohibition in mystery writing.
    * Komisario Palmun erehdys (1960) – A comic Agatha Christie pastiche shifted to 1930s Helsinki, with light Nouvelle Vague influences and a talented, game cast. One of those light, frivolous films that work so well you have to accept them as masterpieces.
    * The Maltese Falcon (1941) – The solution scene is so cold it started film noir,
    * Tenebre (1982) – Profondo Rosso is usually considered Argento’s best giallo, but this is more bonkers and thus better.
    * Zodiac (2007) – Two and a half hours of masterly dread, and I had to pick one where the murderer wins.

  10. victor says:

    Mon faves:

    5. “Memento” (2001)
    4. “Clue” (1985)
    3. “Gattaca” (1997)
    2. “Murder By Death” (1976) “It’s Two Two Twain house.”
    1. “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” (1988)

  11. M.C. Steffen says:

    1. Vertigo
    2. Psycho
    3. Sleuth (1972)
    4. Laura
    5. Chinatown

  12. Alex Frith says:

    1. Laura
    2. Gosford Park
    3. Basic Instinct
    4. Sleepy Hollow
    5. Deep Red (Tenebre’s solution is just too bonkers for my tastes, although it’s a fun film)

  13. Yourself says:

    Movies where there’s a murder, and we know the person who did it, but we don’t know that they did it, and we do know we don’t know (a twist != a mystery, e.g. Psycho). There’s a lot of overlap here with crime films and detective films, so I don’t think this list really represents the spirit of Orient Express-style whodunnitery, but I don’t care enough about this genre to try harder.

    1.) The Long Goodbye
    2.) The Big Sleep
    3.) Dick Tracy
    4.) Clue
    5.) Chinatown? I don’t think this counts but I haven’t seen it in years.

  14. I’ve just been to see the new Murder On The Orient Express.

    My list hasn’t changed.

  15. CRD says:

    I love murder mysteries, so this was a hard list to whittle down to 5.

    1. Chinatown
    2. Laura
    3. Gosford Park
    4. The Big Sleep
    5. Lone Star

    Also a shoutout to Manhattan Murder Mysteries, which to me, is one of Woody Allen’s lightest and funniest works.

  16. Cannon Kruk says:

    Firstly, I’m excluding The Silence of the Lambs along with Manhunter and the likes for what seem like a fickle reason, in that I don’t view them as whodunit mysteries but serial killer thrillers: the murderer is revealed early on or midway through, leaving the bulk of suspense predicated not on their identity but rather how they’re caught. Again, that’s just my own take. Secondly, I’m excluding the admittedly great Laura solely on the basis that, if I’m going to rank as a favorite any 40s noir film starring Gene Tierney, then it can-and-should only ever be Leave Her to Heaven, which doesn’t fit the criteria in question. Anyways…

    5. The Name of the Rose

    Connery as a 14th century, Holmesian Franciscan friar? I’m in. For all its macabre weirdness and abject medieval depictions, the movie is often contrarily a whimsy celebration of the joys of innocence, intellect and enlightenment.

    4. Presumed Innocent

    I feel like this one’s kinda fallen by the wayside. A critical and commercial hit at the time, it’s nonetheless seldom mentioned anymore. Alan J. Pakula opted out of explicit sensationalism and steered the film’s R-rating towards the darker, moodier, classier side of things, resulting in one of the best adult thrillers retrospectively unique to the late-80s/early-90s. Beautifully shot by Gordon Willis and well-acted by a strong cast all around, including one of Ford’s most haunted performances. And that closing scene …so simple in staging, yet, what a twist. What a doozy.

    3. Rashomon
    I would actually rank High and Low as the best of Kurosawa’s mysteries, but it likewise technically doesn’t count as a murder mystery. Still Rashomon is what it is: a game-changer in structure and narrative, along with everything else any self-respecting cinephile comes to admire about Kurosawa. In short, near-perfectly executed.

    2. Minority Report

    Nothing less than a treasure trove of sophisticated visual storytelling & motifs including eyes, water, Lincoln, reverse motion; liberty, temporality, ghost memories, predetermination versus free will and even a filmmaking meta-play on the idea of complex image editing. The action spectacle of futuristic maglev freeways, flying jetpacks and whatnot is, for a change, inverted to the film’s first two acts that in turn succeeds in raising dramatic stakes towards the end by reducing the scale of suspense to ever-simpler circumstances: a bathtub of ice water, hiding behind a bouquet of balloons, a hotel bed covered in Polaroids, two men alone on a balcony with only a single-shot Derringer between them. And it all works masterfully—Spielberg firing on all six cylinders.

    1. The Big Sleep

    So much to choose from the Golden Age of cinema for it’s striking styles and impressionism (Hitchcock, Huston Preminger, Wilder etc.) Ultimately, though, I gotta go with the low-key tact that was Hawks, and of course the legendary chemistry between Bogie and Bacall. The Big Sleep postures nothing yet delivers a consummate screenplay of the highest order (Falkner, Brackett) as translated with the unassuming effortlessness of Hawks’ filmmaking.

  17. Does anyone else think it’s a little suspicious that Rob suddenly disappears? Carrie has the obvious motive to get rid of him, but it’s always the one you least suspect, which would mean Tim. But that’s what they WANT us to think. I’m betting it turns out Rob took himself out and deliberately staged it to look mysterious so he could frame Tim after we predictably learn Carrie was innocent the whole time. Or was she???

    • Robert Jarosinski Robert Jarosinski says:

      Lol! I like to think I never really existed at all.

    • Aaron says:

      I’m going to have to start listening to these podcasts.

    • Grant Hagey says:

      Carrie was definitely practicing her Rob voice. I’m guessing she’ll have it down pat by next episode.

      • Carrie Jarosinski Carrie Jarosinski says:

        Ah that was was supposed to be the twist! My spot-on impersonation would lead you to believe that he was there, when he’s really in the basement freezer. AND THEN, you come to find that there never really was a Film School Dropout on the show because he was muuuurdered 20 years ago.

  18. Mr Tinkertrain says:

    No-one’s mentioned Scream yet – great murder mystery as well as being a great slasher film

  19. victor says:

    At first I thought Rob’s absence was going to be a part of some sort of podcast meta mystery, like “Oh, no! Rob is missing. Carrie and Tim are suspects. Let’s figure out whodunnit!” but then the real reason turned out to be a lot more serious so now I’m sending healing thoughts his way!

  20. Aaron says:

    The only other ones I can think of are The Lady Vanishes and season one of Veronica Mars. I wish I could suggest Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, but actually I think it’s just sort of okay.

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