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Rehearsal for Murder (1982)
Where the curtain comes up on Terror
Director: David Greene
TV Movie

A year after his fiancée's death, a playwright schedules a rehearsal for his new play, which proves to be a trap for her killer.

Rehearsal for Murder (1982)

Mixed Audiences

God I love this stuff.

What happens here: a playwright has his wife murdered. He assembles the suspects to read a new play, and this play concerns events that implicate each of them. Each of these suspects is placed under increasing pressure by what he seems to know until the climax where the murderer is revealed.

For background, consider two techniques. One is mentioned in the film: the play within the play of Hamlet, wherein the murderer sees his act played out and gives himself away. This is far more sophisticated, as we have many suspects, not one. And they each are forced to be actors in the play, not spectators. Moreover, they play themselves!

The second thing is the great innovation that Poirot brought to the genre. At the end of his stories, he gathers all the suspects, confronts each one with some damaging new insight and reveals the murderer. In this, we share the role of audience with the gathered suspects as they hear the solution. It is a way of folding us into the story, increasing our engagement.

I will not reveal the trick this film plays on us, other than to say that it is extraordinarily clever and turns these two dynamics inside out so that the effect of each is transferred to the other. Genius.

Posted in 2015

Ted’s Evaluation — 3 of 3: Worth watching.


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