I'm not sure if Keating was working with an earlier draft of the screenplay or if there were changes made on the spot when filming was done, but there is a definite difference in the ending as filmed and as it appears in the book And when checking a few things on Wikipedia, I was reminded that the televised version (but apparently not the theatrical release) used to have an added scene with Holmes and Watson arriving as the other Great Detectives are leaving. I had forgotten all about that...but do remember that ending from the very first time I saw it. There are also some added exchanges between Twain and his butler to enhance the fun.
Just as a reminder (or a teaser for those who have never seen this campy spoof of the country house murder mystery), Lionel Twain, mystery story aficionado and the 17th richest man in the world, has become disgusted with the tricks and cheats and unbelievable solutions that he has found in the stories based on the "real" cases of the Greatest Detectives on earth. He invites five of them--with their spouses, sidekicks, what-have-yous--to a "dinner and murder" where he challenges them to solve a murder of his own devising. If any of them reach the correct conclusion, he will give that detective a million dollars. If none of them solve the murder, then Twain will, by default, take his (ahem) rightful place as the Greatest Detective. What follows is a fun send-up of a number of familiar sleuths and some of their most famous plots, from Poirot and Miss Marple to Charlie Chan and Sam Spade, as well as Nick and Nora Charles.
The book is a quick read and makes for a nice jaunt down memory lane for those who either saw the movie in the theater or (like me) who grew up watching it on television. Clearly intended as parody, there is no effort on the part of Simon and/or Keating to make this a fair play mystery, but it's pretty obvious who culprit is meant to be. Read it for the humor and to recognize the various standard mystery tropes. Watch the film for some good in-your-face comedy. ★★★
This counts as my first entry for Rich's Crimes of the Century feature for September. This month is focused on crime fiction from 1976. Got mysteries from 1976 that you can read and review? Come join us!