Mystery Movies

As the holidays approach, we may be looking for gifts that appeal to writers. In my house, movies are always welcome. Besides the classics like Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie, here are some of my favorites in the mystery genre or movies involving writers. A happy ending is a must for my taste. This list does not include TV series or the Hallmark Channel mystery movie collection.


AMERICAN DREAMER with JoBeth Williams and Tom Conti.
One of my all-time favorites. A romance novelist wins a contest and a trip to Paris. En route to the awards luncheon, she’s in an accident and suffers a head injury. She wakes up believing herself to be the heroine in her favorite books. A spy caper follows that’s all too real, as she teams up with the author’s handsome son who thinks she’s a nutcase. That is, until someone tries to kill them.

DROWNING MONA with Danny DeVito and Bette Midler.
A funny whodunit in a small town with a wacky cast of characters.

GOSFORD PARK with Helen Mirren and Jeremy Northam.
An English drawing room mystery in the grand fashion that takes place at a country estate. Aristocrats and servants alike have secrets that slowly unravel during a hunting party weekend. Albeit a bit slow-paced, this film requires repeat viewings to catch the nuances.

HER ALIBI with Tom Selleck and Paulina Portzkova.
A hilarious escapade wherein mystery novelist Phillip Blackwood falls for a suspected murderess while searching for inspiration to unlock his writer’s block. Did the mysterious and beautiful foreigner have a hand in the victim’s death? If so, is he foolish to vouch for her alibi and bring her home? And are the accidents that ensue truly accidents, or is he next in line for her lethal highjinks?

MANHATTAN MURDER MYSTERY with Woody Allen and Diane Keaton.
A Manhattan housewife thinks her next door neighbor is a murderer. She enlists her friends to search for clues. Probably my favorite Woody Allen film out of all of them.

MURDER 101 with Pierce Brosnan.
English professor Charles Lattimore assigns his class to plan the perfect murder as a literary exercise, but when he’s framed for a woman’s death, he has to find the killer before the detective on the case finds him. Will his students help him solve a real murder, or is one of them guilty?

MURDER BY THE BOOK with Robert Hays.
A mystery novelist thinks he’s hallucinating when his hero appears in front of him and talks back. He’s been thinking of changing to a new series and scrapping the sleuth, but now he needs the fellow’s help to solve a real murder.

THE BOY NEXT DOOR with Dina Meyer and Christopher Russell.
A romance writer goes on a retreat to a small town to seek inspiration for her next story. When her next door neighbor is found dead, the chief of police suspects her. Even when her place is ransacked and someone tries to run her off the road, he discounts her theories and refuses to look into the incidents. It’s up to our heroine to prove her innocence and uncover the killer before his next attack turns fatal.

FLOWER GIRL (Hallmark Channel Movie)
This is a classic romance with an element of mystery. The heroine has to choose between two suitors: a staid lawyer approved by her mother, and a writer who answers evasively whenever she asks about his work. Guess who she’ll pick? The revelation at the end is reminiscent of American Dreamer.

What are some of your favorite films involving murder mysteries or writers? Note: I am on a cruise and will not be able to respond, but you can make suggestions and I’ll check back later.

24 thoughts on “Mystery Movies

  1. My favorite – a classic film noir from the 1940s. LAURA with Dana Andrews and Gene Tierney.

  2. I’m more of a Silence of the Lambs type of gal and shows like Hannibal, The Following, How to Get Away With Murder. But I have seen almost all the movies you’ve listed and enjoyed those too. Have a blast on your cruise!

  3. I would add a delightful little farce titles Alex & Emma:
    Alex is an author whose writer’s block and gambling debts have landed him in a jam. In order get loan sharks off his back, he must finish his novel in 30 days or wind up dead. To help him complete his manuscript he hires stenographer Emma. As Alex begins to dictate his tale of a romantic love triangle to the charming yet somewhat opinionated stenographer, Emma challenges his ideas at every turn. Her unsolicited yet intriguing input begins to inadvertently influence Alex and his story and soon real life begins to imitate art.

  4. Is there a better movie about writers than Stranger Than Fiction?” Not quite a mystery in the usual sense, but it keeps you guessing. And what a cast! Emma Thompson, Dustin Hoffman, Will Ferrell, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Queen Latifah!

  5. Sheesh, there are so many. Her are a few that stick out in my mind.

    1. Murder on the Orient Express. 1974 film with an all star cast. Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot awesomeness!

    2. Dial M For Murder. Not really a whodunit, but classic Hitchcock!

    3. Witness for the Prosecution. Another Agatha Christie. Gosh, I so love this movie! Charles Laughton at his best as an aging attorney! Don’t miss Marlene Dietrich’s part, she was amazing!

    4. The Usual Suspects (Kevin Spacey, Chazz Palmentirri, Stephen Baldwin, et al). An amazing ending! That’s all I’m going to say!

    last but not least…
    5. Identity (John Cusak, Ray Liotta). If you don’t mind the gore and the being “scared out of your gourd” feeling, this is right at the top 2-3 of my list. Again, another amazing ending!

    • I realize 4 and 5 are not movies about a novel, but they are excellent mystery suspense movies.

      Another one I neglected to add that popped into my mind is “The Name of the Rose” I stumbled upon this jewel one sleepless night as I was surfing the TV. It stars Sean Connery and Christian Slater as a monk and his monk in training. The writer is Umberto Eco.

  6. No surprise, I love Gosford Park! I also enjoyed Dennis Quaid in D.O.A and in the movie Suspect with Cher. I also don’t mind a bit of Kevin Costner for my holiday viewing – No way out is a great suspense movie for that.

    • “No Way Out” has one of the all-time great twist endings I’ve ever seen! I watched it again a few months ago after not seeing it for 20 years, and the ending is still amazing. It’s set up perfectly, and you still never see it coming. Awesome!

  7. Just went through a website with 50 movies about writers. I’m a movie goer and I hadn’t heard of half of the them. Of the one’s I’d seen, all seemed strained and pushing an agenda. They were less about a writer than one variety or another of looney toon. (see Bar Fly or anything by Woody Allen).
    But there was one on the list I really like – Shakespeare in Love. I’ve seen it twice and I’m pawing through Amazon Prime to find it again.

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