#1970s #1980s #1990s #2000s #2010s
Clearing up the mystery with ten reasons why I love this genre…
My investigations into the mystery genre are now revealed with some all too familiar film and TV suspects.
Anyone who has delved into the contents of this blog or my A – Z pages will deduce that I adore film and TV mysteries. Be it TV crime whodunnits from the 1970s or murder mystery movies from Agatha Christie, I’ll watch these again and again even after knowing how things turn out in the end and the mystery is solved.
After rewatching a certain mystery movie or TV show recently, I really couldn’t resist the lovely Rachel at Hamlette’s Soliloquy’s tag in her We Love Detectives week. Rachel is celebrating this genre with a tag, blogathon and quiz and all the other entries are found HERE.
And in my own wee detective themed twist, this inspiring movie or TV show will be revealed as one from this list with 10 of my favourites. So without peeking can you guess what it is with these three clues…?
Its director was also behind the camera for an all-star cast 1970s movie.
It has two Dallas (1978-91) stars in the cast, and one played the victim and the other a suspect.
It won an award for Costume Design…
After a lot of deliberation, here are my answers to my favourite mysteries in films and TV in ten different ways… And you can discover the answer to my mystery, after reading these…
1. Death on the Nile (1978) for its historical setting…
DEATH ON THE NILE (1978) TRAILER, BRITISH SECRET AGENT 007
Death on the Nile (1978) is an Agatha Christie whodunnit. The suspects line up after American socialite, Linnet Ridgeway (Lois Chiles) is found murdered on her honeymoon. Set in 1937, it also tells of the lead-up, murder and the aftermath. The film contrasts the beauty of these Ancient Egyptian landmarks – listed by Wikipedia HERE “as the Great Pyramids, the Sphinx, and temples at Abu Simbel and Karnak” – with the ugliness of murder.
As this socialite and her new husband, Simon Doyle (Simon MacCorkindale) join a paddle steamer cruise on the Nile, there is literally a boat full of suspects. These include Linnet’s grasping lawyer (George Kennedy), Linnet’s best friend (and Simon’s jilted ex-girlfriend (Mia Farrow)), ageing kleptomaniacs (and their companions, Bette Davis and Maggie Smith respectively) and others with personal grudges (Angela Lansbury, Jane Birkin and more…) and of course, the omnipresent Belgian detective, the Hercule Poirot (Peter Ustinov).
The Ancient landmarks are also skillfully added into the screenplay turning the exotic ambience of these landmarks eerier. The flamboyant Oscar-winning costume designs for the characters in this film are as mesmerising as those monuments. I’d recommend this film which also has a bombastic score as you are taken back to that time and place…
2. Endless Night (1972) for its (then) modern setting…
Endless Night Trailer 1971, Video Detective
Endless Night (1972) is narrated by one of the characters in this murder mystery film which was set and filmed in the 1970s. The working class Michael Rogers (Hywel Bennett) tells his story to an unseen person.
On his travels as a photographer, Rogers tells how he immediately fell in love with a piece of land called Gypsy’s Acre, situated with views to kill for on the Devon coast. He adds that he has a dream to live there with the woman he loves in his dream house designed by his architect friend, Santonix (Per Oscarsson).
Then it’s flashback time as he remembers his wife, Ellie… Their story begins while he is on a photographic trip at Gypsy’s acre, when Rogers meets her not knowing she’s a rich American girl, Ellie (Hayley Mills). They have an instant attraction but are informed by a local woman that Gypsy’s Acre is in fact, cursed land. He marries Ellie and she makes his dreams come true, and they build their dream house there, despite this warning.
But her stepmother (Lois Maxwell) and her new husband (Peter Bowles), other family members and lawyer (George Sanders) are not happy. They believe Rogers married Ellie for her money, but Rogers won’t be paid off and tells them he loves Ellie.
Ellie’s best friend, the controlling Greta (Britt Ekland) – Ellie’s young one-time personal assistant, who is disliked by Ellie’s family – moves in with the newlyweds and in time she clashes with Rogers. Then the nightmare for Rogers continues as Ellie’s relatives rent a place nearby. After Ellie’s found dead after a riding accident, Rogers believes his wife has been murdered…
3. The Astral Factor (1978) features a lone detective…
TRANSFORMER / THE ASTRAL FACTOR – TRAILER (1978, GERMAN), VHS TRAILER PARK
The Astral Factor (1978) begins as a prisoner learns about the paranormal. After he discovers how to make himself invisible, he escapes. He then plans to stalk and then strangle the five women who testified against him in court which led to his jail sentence. So he begins to do just that, like a serial killing invisible man…
Robert Foxworth is Lt. Charles Barrett is the lone detective who hunts him down and he is also assigned to protect these women. This 1978 film was later recut and rereleased as Invisible Strangler in 1984, with more scenes added to the earlier film. These scenes add more credibility (!) to the storylines which were edited out of the original film. One scene reveals this killer. The cast also included Stefanie Powers and Elke Sommer.
4. McMillan and Wife (1971-77) feature a pair of sleuths…
1971-72 TELEVISION SEASON 50TH ANNIVERSARY: MCMILLAN & WIFE TELEVISIONVANGUARD
McMillan and Wife (1971-1977) is my favourite of those married couples turned detectives and not just as the husband, Stuart McMillan is played by the always dreamy, Rock Hudson. This seventies television series had him cast as a San Francisco police commissioner with Susan St James as his non-detective wife, Sally.
The pair investigated skulduggery of all kinds and together were a winning team. They had on-screen comic support from his police assistant, Sgt. Charles Enright (John Schuck) and Nancy Walker as the McMillan’s maid, Mildred. The show featured some fantastic guest stars such as Jessica Walter and Larry Hagman.
The Mcmillans’ investigations included a murder mystery as they take part in a car race – to win an inheritance – with stars Van Johnson and Bert Convy in Downshift to Danger S4 Ep1. They even look into the shooting of a relative in Scotland in Death of a Monster, Birth of a Legend S3, Ep 1 with Roddy McDowall.
Sadly, the final season only featured the newly widowed McMillan (and the “and Wife” was dropped from the show title) – after Sally dies in a plane crash off-screen – but he has many love interests in this final season. In Affair of the Heart S6 Ep5, Stefanie Powers’ character makes doe eyes at him and this episode stars a couple of Dallas cast members.
5. Pretty Maids All in a Row (1971) features a professional/police detective…
PRETTY MAIDS ALL IN A ROW (1971) – TRAILER, BLAZING TRAILERS
Pretty Maids All in a Row (1971) has a plotline of a serial killer killing several girls at Ocean Front High School. These murders – believed to be carried out by a serial killer – are investigated by Telly Savalas in the role of Sam Surcher, the professional/police detective in charge of the investigation.
The story implies that an unconfident with girls, high school kid, Ponce is attracted to the substitute teacher, Miss Smith (Angie Dickinson). Ponce gets a wee bit flustered in her presence as she brushes past him and he runs to the toilet. There discovers a lifeless body of a murdered high school girl in one of the stalls. Ponce immediately alerts Michael “Tiger” McDrew (Rock Hudson), the happily married, school guidance teacher and the headmaster (Roddy McDowall) who now make it a police matter.
We know from previous scenes that McDrew has been sleeping with his female students and he is also a much-loved coach for the football team. He’s also been encouraging Miss Smith to help Ponce gain more sexual confidence with the more precocious girls in the class. Detective Surcher believes that McDrew is guilty… but is he?
6. Moonlighting (1985-89) features an amateur detective…
MOONLIGHTING TV SERIES TEASERS, INTHISCORNER100
Moonlighting (1985-89) is a TV Series with Cybil Shepherd as Maddie Hayes, a model who discovers that her accountant has spent all her assets. After discovering her remaining investment is a private detective agency, this model turns amateur private detective after she declares bankruptcy.
She teams up with the sarcastic, private detective David Addison (Bruce Willis) and the pair become business partners. They rename this agency, Blue Moon Investigations and become involved with mysteries of all kinds over the series run.
Later a third private detective joins them as Curtis Armstrong played Herbert Viola who helps the pair on these cases. He was also added as a love interest for the Blue Moon Investigations secretary, Agnes DiPesto (Allyce Beasley). The Dream Sequence Always Rings Twice S2 Ep4 is a memorable episode that pays homage to film noir and is just one of many episodes with pop culture references.
7. Crooked House (2017) features a young sleuth…
CROOKED HOUSE – OFFICIAL TRAILER, SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT
Crooked House (2017) is the third and final Agatha Christie film adaptation on the list. The film boasts an all-star cast including Glenn Close, Julian Sands and Gillian Anderson. The plot begins as the granddaughter of a Greek Tycoon, Sophia Leonides (Stefanie Martini) enrols her ex-boyfriend, Charles Hayward (Max Irons), a private investigator to investigate the recent death of her grandfather.
Sophia has evidence to prove that her grandfather was murdered, and this time it’s a huge household of family members that are under suspicion. Her extended family all suspect his new young widow, (Christina Hendricks) who was a dancer in Las Vegas as his murderer. Yet, she seems to be a scapegoat, as all of this family have their own personal motives and hated this man because of the ways they were treated by him.
Hayward is helped in his investigations by Josephine, Sophia’s wee 12 year old sister who carries out her own investigation into the murder. Josephine often hints to the family about finding clues and she takes down notes on her “findings” in her notebook.
However, after she’s injured after an inexplicable fall from her treehouse – where she keeps her notebook – Hayward suspects that it was an attempt on this kid’s life. Later his suspicions are aroused once more, after Josephine’s nanny is murdered. She’s been found poisoned after drinking a hot chocolate prepared for herself and Josephine…
8. Columbo (1971-2003) is an ageing detective…
I KNOW WHO THE MURDERER IS | COLUMBO, COLUMBO
It’s a return to the TV detectives with Columbo (1971-2003) as the ageing detective on this list. So far, one of my favourite episodes about this dishevelled looking detective is the one with Ruth Gordon as a guest star in an episode titled Try and Catch Me, S7 Ep 1.
In this episode, Gordon plays an elderly crime and mystery writer, Abigail Mitchell with murder on her mind. She kills her niece’s husband after believing he killed her niece. She does this by suffocating him in a walk-in safe. All newcomers to this series should know that the last couple of sentences are not spoilers.
This is as this detective series comes with a distinctive twist to this genre. Each episode shows the murderer and the murder as it happens in those opening scenes. The episode then has Lt. Columbo – often after befriending the culprit – solves the murder by the end of the show.
Columbo then reveals all… and usually, like his catchphrase discovers after just “one more thing”… The lengthy guest star list for this show included Martin Landau, Mariette Hartley, Ray Milland, William Shatner, Janet Leigh and Ricardo Montalban.
9. The Six Million Dollar Man (1978) has an episode with a cosy feel…
THE CENTER, MIRCOCHEN
In this The Six Million Dollar Man (1974-78) TV episode, Steve Austin (Lee Majors) is joined by our favourite Rocket Man singer, Star Trek actor and recently a real-life astronaut (thanks for that reminder, Darlin Husband) William Shatner as a guest star.
Shatner is Josh Lang – a good friend of Austin’s – in the episode Burning Bright, found at Se1, Ep 11. Lang is a one time astronaut with possible mental health problems. The mystery for Austin is whether Lang is fit enough to resume his astronaut work.
It seems his mental health is fine after the always supportive, Austin discovers that as many of his friend’s more bizarre and paranoid ideas are seen as true. In his never-ending non-judgemental relationship with Lang, he believes Lang is being judged wrongly, although it does seem Lang is haunted by a childhood accident that happened on an electricity pylon.
Lang proves to Austin can talk with dolphins and it seems something more supernatural is happening with him. Others who try to help him or believe him unwell are hurt as Lang teleports his sonar language – as gained from talking to these animals – to their heads. This sound causes unconsciousness or death for those concerned…
10. Shutter Island (2010) has a shocking reveal…
“SHUTTER ISLAND” – OFFICIAL TRAILER [HD], WATCHCULTURETAINMENT
Shutter Island (2010) is my favourite mystery film with a shocking ending scene, but this is a spoiler-free review. The film set in 1954 has Leonardo DiCaprio as Federal Marshall Teddy Daniels. Daniels and his partner, Aule (Mark Ruffalo) are on a ferry heading for Shutter Island. The pair are investigating the disappearance of a client at the island’s secure forensic, mental health hospital. This patient is Rachel Salando, who killed her children by drowning them.
As a storm develops, Daniels and his partner must stay there overnight as there is no way to return to the mainland. Daniels has other reasons for going there. He is keen to confront the arsonist Laeddis – who killed Daniels’ wife in a fire – who is now a patient in this mental health hospital.
There’s a gothic feel to this story, with as many twists and turns as the corridors of this hospital, as Daniels is flooded with tragic memories – seen as flashbacks – telling more about his earlier life.. and it has a killer of an ending scene.
And finally… after nine red herrings of the film and TV kind add your answer below in the comments… Then CLICK HERE to find the film or TV Show, in a list with one of the cast members’ filmography. And you’ll see if you are more clued up than most…