5 films like “See how they run”: With all the excitement surrounding Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (2022) ahead of its Netflix release later this year, Tom George’s See How They Run (2022) delivers a cozy mystery that promises to warm you like a bowl of chicken soup For the soul. It chooses to be a parody of the classic thriller mystery we typically associate with Agatha Christie books and looks inward for a meta commentary. If you’re a fan of both of those elements in movies, you’ll love this one.
The film opens in 1953, nearly a decade after the end of World War II. We are immediately introduced to an Agatha Christie play, The Mousetrap (1952), described as a second-rate murder mystery by American director Leo Köpernick (played by Adrien Brody), which has successfully drawn audiences to the theater for one hundred performances. Unfortunately, the film’s original narrator, Köpernick, is murdered at the play’s success party, and now Scotland Yard detectives – a limping war veteran, Inspector Stoppard (played by Sam Rockwell), and an inexperienced young widow, Constable Stalker (played by Saoirse Ronan) – must find out who the killer is. It doesn’t help that everyone on the play crew hates Köpernick. To garnish this hodgepodge, we are also promised the presence of the famous author herself, Agatha Christie. He speeds along the track, repeatedly warning us not to jump to conclusions, but can you help him when you have so many clues lying around? We’re on the same boat as Agent Stalker until the very end.
It’s an elegant thriller that doesn’t hit the bullseye with its meta-mystery, but it comes pretty close. An obvious Double Bill for this one would be Knives Out (2019), written and directed by Rian Johnson. In it, Detective White (played by Daniel Craig) must uncover the secrets behind the death of aging mystery novelist, Harlan Thrombey (played by the late Cristopher Plummer). It has an all-star cast and a well-honed plot full of age-old murder mystery tropes, which makes it equally charming and entertaining to watch. More importantly, Knives Out is a clever, subversive thriller that turns the genre upside down.
Here is a list of five suggested murder mysteries you will enjoy if you liked the movie, See How They Run (2022). More like a warm-up exercise for your curiosity, these movies have a few common factors, including the World War II setting in a Western European or American setting, female detectives, and a narration or film adaptation. inspired by Agatha Christie. More importantly, all of these movies make for a very entertaining watch! Good reading!
5. The Grand Hotel in Budapest (2014)
This is a lovely eighth feature from director, Wes Anderson, and an obvious re-read whenever I want to feel comforted on a gloomy day. It immerses us subtly in the middle of a well-staged thriller while the spectacle of (dis-)ordered nostalgia transports us to a large mansion that has now lost its prestige.
This story within a story within another story from 1932 chronicles the time when Zero Moustafa (played by Tony Revolori) was newly appointed as the lobby boy at the Grand Budapest Hotel. The hotel concierge, Monsieur Gustave H. (played by Ralph Fiennes), was quite close to the former Madame D. (played by Tilda Swinton) when the latter’s mysterious death and the codicil to her will bequeathing a chef -of inestimable work to Gustave raises eyebrows and arms. The film unfolds as a comedic murder mystery against the backdrop of Europe’s dim historical landscape.
One of the superficial similarities between them is that Saorise Ronan and Adrien Brody both play major characters in both films, whose narratives are peppered with a star cast. Although there are no direct references to World War II, there is a display of fascist emblems in the hallways of the hotel, unscrupulous power is manifested through the dramatic invasion of Zubrowkan which hints at fascism, and some of Zero’s black-and-white memories of wartime. Anderson’s distinct visual grammar order gives this film a particularly beautiful finish as “See How They Run,” which caricatures with parallels and split screens to replicate a similar order. It’s a bizarre delight to watch the social dysfunction of Western Europe in the form of a warm hug.
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4. Charades (1963)
Directed by Stanley Donen, Charade brings together the best of both worlds – romantic comedy and murder mystery. This film erupts in sheer chaos, in general, which takes the protagonists to the streets of Paris in eccentric schemes, making for a kitsch thriller dripping with high-end drama.
Regina Lampert (played by Audrey Hepburn) returns from her vacation in the French Alps to find that her husband, Charles, has been murdered. Charles had sold all their belongings except a small travel bag. She soon learns that her husband may have stolen around $250,000, and now she must find the money and save herself from three strange men and the US government who are hot on her heels. To help her, she has Peter (played by Cary Grant), who conveniently lies about his identity throughout the film.
Charade is a glamorous toast to the post-WWII era in the west. As in “See How They Run” (where we look specifically at 1953), the war is still fresh in people’s minds. Lampert, dressed in her signature Givenchy dresses, is embroiled in the affairs of her late husband and his wartime associates. The object of desire at the center of this mystery is also related to war. There are no detectives involved in solving the mystery except for Lampert and Peter, who share bubbly chemistry in this film. It’s a classic best known as “the best Hitchcock movie Hitchcock ever made”.
3. Clue (1985)
Directed by Jonathan Lynn, this film is inspired by the nature of the Cluedo board game designed by an Englishman, Anthony E. Pratt. It’s elegant and funny in the style of Mel Brooks comedies, keeping itself from tipping into slapstick comedy by the cleverness of the complex, well-planned and simultaneously stupid murders.
Six guests arrive at a New England mansion following an anonymous dinner invitation. A seventh guest, Mr. Boddy (played by Lee Ving), arrives and after a while his apparent death leaves the guests and the butler, Wadsworth (played by Tim Curry), for clues to find the murderer. The film, Clue, has three possible endings arranged sequentially, if you can get your hands on the right copy, and seven suspects, making it a rare thriller that leaves you curious even after it ends. Fun fact: There was also a fourth ending, but it was rejected as not good enough by the director.
Full of quotes and characters in campy costumes, the film has garnered a cult following in recent years. Additionally, each of the six suspects is given a pseudonym based on the color of the vehicle they arrive in. Its premise – a secluded mansion and mysterious invitation – is very reminiscent of And Then There Were None (1939), a much-loved film. Christie’s novel which found itself at the heart of several film adaptations. In fact, See How They Run (2022) follows in the same footsteps and takes us to Christie’s mansion for its climax. ‘Clue’ is like a maze that keeps on giving with each new watch. If I say one more word about this movie, I’m bound to spoil it for you.
2. Shubho Mahurat (2003)
Directed by Rituparno Ghosh, this Bengali-language crime novel has its roots in Agatha Christie’s novel The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side (1962). It’s a film like “See How They Run” in its bringing together Christie’s story and influence and in tracing the movie stars’ personal lives to get to the cause of the crime.
On the first day of filming an NRI producer’s film, its lead actress, Kakoli (played by Kalyani Mandal), succumbs to death under mysterious circumstances. At the time of his death, only journalist Mallika Sen (played by Nandita Das), was present at the crime scene. A police investigation ensues and the dark past of each of the characters involved in this film is brought to light. Unraveling these threads with superb deductive logic and expertise is Mallika’s aunt, Ranga Pishima (played by Raakhee), who ultimately solves the crime.
The film is mostly a faithful adaptation of Christie’s story, recontextualized to fit the Tollywood film industry. Ghosh carefully unfolds the story and each of its characters, keeping the tension slow throughout the film. The character of Ranga Pishima also epitomizes Miss Marple’s eloquence and patience. It went on to win the National Award for Best Bengali Feature Film in 2003. Ranga Pishima’s character was also set to be serialized for a television detective series. Unfortunately, Ghosh’s untimely death stalled those plans, and we are now left with a singular example of his brilliant understanding of the mystery-mystery genre of cinema.
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Murder on the Orient Express (1974)
Directed by Sidney Lumet, it is a British thriller based on the Agatha Christie (1934) novel of the same name and arguably the best film adaptation of the novel to date. It’s not so much a mystery, but indulges in the finest form of cross-examination distinguished by famous fictional detective, Hercule Poirot (played by Albert Finney here).
The hated American millionaire, Mr. Samuel Ratchett, is on board the Orient Express from Istanbul. A menagerie of eccentric characters – from a Russian princess to an American theater agent – and Poirot travel with him on the same train. Ratchett worries about the death threats he has received and is found stabbed to death in his cabin the next day. Poirot must identify the killer before they reach their final destination. This brilliant adaptation of Christie’s novel manages to thrill you just enough while carefully balancing the high comedy that Finney’s performance as Poirot brings to the film.
Poirot’s eccentricity, especially Finney’s version, is unmatched by any other Christie character of this nature. The Inspector Stallard character from the film, See How They Run (2022), is vaguely reminiscent of this crazy behavior, without the ridiculous accent that Poirot displays. Just as the theater backdrop functions as a character in the latter, Lumet’s film train is almost as important as Poirot in the plot. Sleek and fast, this film is reason enough for you to pick up a Christie book the next time you visit a bookstore and snuggle up with it on lazy winter afternoons. This is Agatha Christie’s work at its finest, and Lumet does it justice in every way.