The literary term whodunit is a contraction of the phrase who has done it? And it refers to a variant of the intrigue genre in which the mystery involves different suspects and the task of the main investigator (and the reader) is to find out who is responsible for the crime.
The cinema has not been an exception and, with the premiere of Daggers in the Back: The Glass Onion Mystery, we will review the 12 best samples of the whodunit in cinema. we start.
Laura (1944), by Otto Preminger.
The first on the list and probably the best of all of them. Laura is pure film noir and yes, it’s also a whodunit in which a detective investigates the murder of a woman. To do this, he draws up a portrait of Laura’s personality from the statements of those close to her, some of them suspicious.
Thus, Laura is pure film noir, with an upright detective who ends up falling into the networks of a “dead” femme fatale, but it is still an intrigue in which our suspicions fall on one or another suspect. A gem that you have to see at least once in your life, with one of the best female characters of all time (not surprisingly, she is one of our top 20 femme fatale) .
AVAILABLE ON: AMAZON PRIME VIDEO
Ten little blacks (1945), by Rene Clair.
In essence, the whodunit is a purely literary genre whose greatest exponent was the British writer Agatha Christie (here you have some of his best film adaptations). Of his vast work full of masterpieces, his top novel is Diez Negritos, a novel without a detective in which ten people are gathered on an island and are murdered one by one.
Although there have been many versions throughout history (the best still being a 2013 BBC miniseries), none have lived up to the literary original. But we must admit that the classic version of 1945 is a nice entertainmentalthough it modifies the excellent ending of the novel.
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Sheila’s End (1973), by Herbet Ross.
In the middle of the 70sthe well-known musical author Stephen Sondheim (you know, Sweeney Todd, among others) and the actor Anthony Perkins (the immortal Norman Bates from Psycho) wrote the script for Sheila’s End, based on mystery games and treasure hunts they organized with friends.
A film producer gathers six friends whom he suspects have been responsible for the abuse of his wife and involves them in a game aimed at discovering the real murderer… The first hour is long, but when the mystery becomes clear, El fin de Sheila hooks until its end.
AVAILABLE IN: FILMIN
Murder on the Orient Express (1974), by Sidney Lumet.
The best adaptation of all Agatha Christie novels to the cinema It is a jewel that inaugurated this of shooting a whodunit with the best of the star system of the time.
In this case, we have Albert Finney, Lauren Bacall, Sean Connery, Ingrid Bergman, Anthony Perkings, Michael York, Jacqueline Bisset, Richard Widmark… and many more at one of the best casts in movie history. Everything to tell us about the murder of a millionaire on a train full of suspects. Forget about Kenneth Branagh’s pain in the ass from 2017.
In any case, continue with Death on the Nile from 1978 and Evil Under the Sun from 1982. Inferior to this Murder on the Orient Express but very entertaining, with Peter Ustinov instead of Albert Finney as the detective.
AVAILABLE ON: AMAZON PRIME VIDEO AND FILMIN.
A corpse for desserts (1976), by Robert Moore.
A mysterious millionaire (neither more nor less than the legendary writer Truman Capote) gathers the best detectives in the world to solve a murder. We are talking about characters inspired by Poirot, Miss Marple, Nick and Nora Charles, Sam Spade or Mr. Wong.
what starts as a parody of the mystery genre a la Scary Movie ends up being a masterful absurd comedy that reflects on the whodunit taking it to absurd extremes.
AVAILABLE IN: FILMIN
The name of the rose (1986), by Jean Jacques Annaud.
Umberto Eco’s novel of the same name was a bestseller based on the Measured Age in which deep philosophical and theological reflections were mixed, combined with a complex use of Latin and an intriguing plot indebted to classical literature.
The film was a masterful adaptation precisely because focus solely on the murder plot with multiple suspects, all of them monks from an obscure abbey in a Middle Ages where fear ruled over faith.
AVAILABLE ON: NETFLIX AND FILMIN
Gosford Park (2001), by Robert Altman.
As far as choral films are concerned, with a wide cast with different plots and subplots, Few have handled this type of work like the director robert altmanwhich brought together the best of the British star system for Gosford Park.
The film is a whodunit in which one of the guests at a luxurious hunting party in England is murdered. Of course, the intrigue is the least important for Altman, much more interested in use the excuse of murder to portray the class struggle between nobles and servants.
AVAILABLE ON: AMAZON PRIME VIDEO AND FILMIN
Identity (2003), by James Mangold.
During a storm, ten strangers are trapped in a motel. Soon, they will be falling one after another, as there is a murderer among them.
Using an approach similar to that of Diez Negritos, Identity is a whodunit with tinges of horror and bloody crimes that has clever plot twists. In fact, the situation itself is a plot trap in itself…
AVAILABLE ON: NETFLIX.
Brick (2005), by Rian Johnson.
The director and screenwriter Rian Johnson, who we will see later in another film on this list, directed Brick, his first production. A Intrigue story with influences from Agatha Christie’s whodunits and Dashiel Hammett’s hard-boiled novels that focused its action on an institute.
A Smart Teenager (Joseph Gordon Levitt) investigate the disappearance of his ex-girlfriend at the institute, focusing its focus on different suspects. A movie to claim.
AVAILABLE AT: MOVISTAR PLUS
The Hateful Eight (2015), by Quentin Tarantino.
I have to admit that I couldn’t stand the first viewing of The Hateful Eight in the cinema. But when I saw her again knowing what was going to happen, my impression of it improved so much that I still consider it one of Tarantino’s best films.
Yes, The Hateful Eight is a western. Also, a snowy western. But really, both in its form and in the development of its narrative, the film is a whodunit in which different characters that reflect the different personalities of deep America meet in a shelter where something strange seems to have happened…
AVAILABLE ON: HBO MAX AND NETFLIX.
Daggers in the back (2018), by Rian Johnson.
After the enormous controversy caused by episode VIII of Star Wars (in the end, the best of the last trilogy), Johnson reformulated and updated the whodunit with the successful Daggers in the Back, Successful mixture of intrigue and comedy that has a new iconic detective for the cinema: the great Benoit Blanc, played by a fun Daniel Craig in a role totally different from that of James Bond.
As in other works of the genre, Daggers in the back mixes the murder with different suspects with a social message, in this case focused on Trump’s America.
The film has counted, as you know, with a sequel for Netflix, more focused on comedy and with a focus on the world of social networks. A little minor but still noticeable.
AVAILABLE ON: NETFLIX, HBO MAX AND AMAZON PRIME VIDEO.
Bad Times at the Royale (2019), by Drew Goddard.
Undervalued and unknown film (it was a box office flop) directed by Drew Goddard, the creator of the Daredevil series. Come on, even today, the best Marvel series. Although it begins as a whodunit, with seven strangers, each with their corresponding secret, going to a run-down motel with a strange past, its plot soon leads to a surprising rehash between the Coen brothers plus Fargo and, of course, Quentin Tarantino himself. In addition, it has one of the best and most amazing roles of Chris Hemsworth. Don’t miss it.
AVAILABLE ON: DISNEY PLUS
And what do you think? What are your favorite movie whodunits?
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