Murder by Natural Causes

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Murder by Natural Causes
Directed by Robert Day
Produced by Richard Levinson
William Link
Robert Papazian
Pattee Roedig
Written by Richard Levinson
William Link
Starring Hal Holbrook
Katharine Ross
Richard Anderson
Barry Bostwick
Eve McVeagh
Music by Dick DeBenedictis
Cinematography Jack Swain
Edited by Frank Morriss
Running time
100 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Murder by Natural Causes is a 1979 American television mystery film written by the creators of Columbo, Richard Levinson and William Link.

Plot summary[edit]

A successful mentalist, Arthur Sinclair (Hal Holbrook), preys upon wealthy socialites such as Helen Carrington (Eve McVeagh) for their money. The film opens as Sinclair is talking on the phone with his much younger wife Allison (Katharine Ross). She wishes him luck as he departs to give an interview. But she is in fact in bed with another man Gil (Barry Bostwick). Gil is a trying actor in love with Allison and we soon learn that she is planning to have Gil kill Arthur by scaring him to death (as he has a heart problem). Their plan is to have Gil storm the house pretending to be a burglar and then point a gun at Arthur who would die from the shock. The night comes and Gil storms the house but Arthur sees him before he can reach the gun. Gil presents himself as a journalist there to make an interview with Arthur. He and Gil have a hearty conversation and it turns out that both men have something on each other. Gil knows that Arthur is a fake and that he somehow knew the information about a killer in a different town and Arthur knows that Gil is not a journalist. Gil is not panicked by that and he uses Arthur's competitive behavior to make him do 50 push-ups which tires Arthur's heart. Soon Gil draws the gun, the two men struggle, and Arthur apparently shoots Gil. When Allison comes home, he is distraught by the incident; then Gil (who loaded a blank bullet into the gun) comes behind him, and Arthur stumbles across the house and screams in pain ... then laughs and applauds as the two lovers look on. He knew about Gil and Allison for a long time and now he is out to get them, but suddenly Arthur's lawyer and best friend George (Richard Anderson) comes in the house and it turns out that he is Allison's real lover and Gil was just there to do the dirty work. George shoots Arthur, then he and Allison depart. Some time afterwords Allison returns to the house and finds Arthur's body gone. It turns out that Arthur knew about George too. Arthur points the gun at Allison and she asks him what is he going to do to which he replies: "Why don't you read my mind".


The film was well received by critics and the viewers alike upon its original release. It currently holds the rating of 8 on IMDb. The script was later turned into as successful play by the same writers.


The film was aired in syndication a couple of times and was released on VHS. The DVD release is yet to be announced.

External links[edit]