A group of detectives, each accompanied by a relative or associate, is invited to "dinner and a murder" by the mysterious Lionel Twain (Capote). Having lured his guests to his mansion (the address of which is shown early on as "22 Lola Lane" and spoken later as "Two-Two Twain") managed by a blind butler and a deaf-mute cook, Twain announces that it is in fact he who is the greatest detective in the world. In order to prove his claim, he challenges the guests to solve a murder which will take place in the house at midnight that very night; a reward of $1 million will be presented to the winner.
Before midnight, the butler is found dead, and at midnight Twain himself appears, also dead; the cook is discovered to have been an animated mannequin, now packed in a storage crate.
The party spends the rest of the evening investigating, dining and bickering. They are manipulated by a mysterious behind-the-scenes force, confused by red herrings, baffled by the "mechanical marvel" that is Twain's house and ultimately find their own lives threatened. The ending piles on twist after twist as each sleuth presents his or her theory on the case.
After a brutal night during which one pair is almost killed by a snake, another by a scorpion, another by a falling ceiling, a fourth by poison gas and the fifth by a bomb, they all collect in the office where the butler—believed to have been murdered earlier—is sitting behind the desk very much alive and not at all blind: "The butler did it".
This movie is filled with comedic twists and turns, and the scenes with the blind butler and deaf cook are priceless.
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