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FRIDAY

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Perhaps it’s an American obsession with the murderer over the victim that allows us to laugh at the death of a blind butler. In 1976’s Murder by Death—a Neil Simon-scripted flick with minimal plot cohesion and a lot of Airplane!-style humor—Truman Capote invites five big-shot detectives to “dinner and a murder,” and soon their lives are in more danger than their reputations. Sure, some of the jokes approach the potty realm, and the creepy-painting-with-watching-eyes moments get tedious, but director Robert Moore wisely keeps the focus on the comic abilities of the actors (including Alec Guinness, Peter Falk, and Peter Sellers). The result is an original take on a well-worn genre that should hold you until they re-release Clue on a fancy new DVD. The film screens at midnight at the American City Diner & Cinema Cafe, 5532 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. (202) 244-1949. (Kelly Manion)