Based on the Donald E. Westlake novel A Travesty, A Slight Case of Murder stars William H. Macy as film critic and murder suspect Terry Thorpe who, in reality, is more or less responsible for the accidental death of one of his mistresses. Thorpe, perhaps having seen too many mystery movies, decides to cover up the event and try to get away with non-murder.
A Slight Case of Murder is a smart, darkly funny, made for TV mystery DVD. Macy is great as the movie critic trying to outsmart the cop (Adam Arkin) and the blackmailing but sensitive private detective (James Cromwell) while having to be resourceful enough to think of everything that can go wrong before it does. Part of the fun here is Thorpe / Macy talks to the viewer throughout the movie ("Don't worry. I know this looks like a scene out of Notorious. I'm not Claude Rains. I'm more like John Cassavetes in Rosemary's Baby.")
Timing is everything in comedy and the timing in this comic mystery is superb. It is impossible to watch A Slight Case of Murder without rewinding a bit from time to time to get the background jokes in things the constantly changing movie posters in Thorpe's apartment or the dialogue in the movie or TV show someone is watching and that seems to be related to what is going on in the movie itself.
This mystery is smartly written and features very original and surprising turns of events including Macy and Arkin at another crime scene, and Thorpe's college lecture on movie mysteries that seems to be related to his own experience or a direct comment on A Slight Case of Murder.
One way or another, being an expert in noir movies seems to help Thorpe a great deal in coping with the many various surprises and twists that keep popping up just when he thinks the coast is clear.
A Slight Case of Murder is a really smart and fun mystery DVD