/Answers: Our Favorite Movie Mysteries

Ethan Anderton: Who Framed Roger Rabbit

I’ve always loved the classic film noir mystery at the center of Who Framed Roger Rabbit. The usual darkness that comes with a mystery like this is made lighter by the presence of cartoon characters being involved, but it still retains those signature film noir traits. What works so well about the mystery is how it seamlessly incorporates cartoon elements into it. The fact that Marvin Acme had a safe dropped on his head to kill him is simultaneously twisted and hilarious because of the goofy violence that classic cartoons inflicted upon each other is suddenly very real. Furthermore, the fact that the mystery at the center of the movie ends up tying into the tragic backstory of our detective is a classic mystery trope that works incredibly well here. On top of that, Judge Doom being a toon in disguise is a genius use of the universe the film establishes. The mystery also ties into the signature corruption of infrastructure and capitalism narrative that was at the center of countless film noir titles back in the 1940s and 1950s. The mystery in Who Framed Roger Rabbit is one that is both amusing and dark, a balance that can be hard to strike so well, but director Robert Zemeckis crafted a compelling one within a unique world.

Vanessa Bogart: The Prestige

I am a sucker for a good mystery. I have almost an entire bookcase devoted to the genre. I like a good whodunit, but when running through the catalog of mysteries in my head for this week’s question, I kept passing up my typical murder mysteries and landing on The Prestige. At first I thought that it wouldn’t work, because when it came down to it I couldn’t really think of what the big mystery was. I knew there were clues and I knew that there was a big reveal, but I was sitting there scratching my head trying to pinpoint what the actual mystery was. And then I realized the whole film is a mystery. It is an illusion. A magic trick.

When I think about The Prestige two things come to mind: David Bowie playing Tesla (which I could honestly write sonnets about) and the feeling of being absolutely fooled. Like I said, I love mystery, but once you get used to a certain genre you start to learn its rules and its tells. I pride myself in being a couch-bound Sherlock Holmes of sorts, figuring out the reveal before I am supposed to. However, The Prestige has so much misdirection, so much what-the-fuckery, and so many little mysteries, that you don’t even know which way is up, who is who, and what the hell is going on. Between figuring out how The Transported Man works, how they keep misleading each other with fake diaries, whether or not Borden murdered Angier, and figuring out how The Real Transported Man works, I was so wrapped up that I really did not see the end coming at all. When Borden and Angier’s highly coveted magician’s secrets were revealed my head exploded in a way that would have made Cronenberg proud.

The Prestige is a favorite go-to film for my husband and I, but it wasn’t until recently that I felt like all of its cards were on the table. For years I would watch The Prestige and pick up on a new clue, a new hint, that I had missed before, and like any spoiled magic trick, once you know exactly how it works some of it becomes almost painfully obvious. Regardless of knowing the outcome, I still get wrapped up in the mystery of The Prestige every time I watch it.

Murder on the Orient Express Trailer

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