Q: Upon watching the movie “Knives Out” I noticed a dead-on (pun intended) similarity with a movie adaptation of the Broadway play “Deathtrap,” which starred Michael Caine and the late Christopher Reeve. One striking similarity found in both is the existence of a prop, a mannequin of a British sailor in uniform. I am curious to know if the one that appears in “Knives Out” is an homage to the one in “Deathtrap,” especially since “Knives Out” is, in itself, an homage to the Agatha Christie genre of whodunits with multiple plot lines and multiple suspects.

A: “Knives Out” is an homage to many mysteries. Susan King of Goldderby.com offered a detailed comparison to the movie “Sleuth,” including the sailor mannequin in both films. Mark Olsen in the Los Angeles Times noted references to “Sleuth” and “Deathtrap,” and to “Agatha Christie adaptations or lighter genre spins like ‘Clue’ and ‘The Private Eyes.’ ”

Olsen continued: “The movie also includes a glimpse of a ‘Murder, She Wrote’ episode, dubbed in Spanish, a made-up Danica McKellar Hallmark movie called ‘Murder by Surprise,’ and the voice of [director Rian] Johnson’s longtime collaborator Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a David Caruso-like cop on a TV crime show.” “Knives Out” is accordingly the sort of movie that invites audiences to obsess over details beyond the killer’s identity.


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