It Had To Be Murder The short story It Had To Be Murder was a short story published in Dime Detective magazine. You’re probably thinking “a dime? that’s cheap!” You would be correct, and as with most things in life, you get what you pay for.
So, if my intro wasn’t clear enough that I did not like this story allow me to give my reasons. The plot is interesting at first, a man witnesses what he suspects to be the murder of one of his neighbors. He spends the next couple of days spying and trying to see if he can piece together the clues. But with the setting being limited to the main characters room, and his view to the murder scene, the author is relying heavily on the psychological to drive the story. The main character has to come to terms with what was witnessed, and then he struggles to find out how to solve the crime, while being contained to his wheelchair. The bulk of the story is the main character either giving monologues to himself on what he believes is happening across the way, or giving orders to his “friend”. The friend character-who’s name I can’t recall due- is poorly utilized. He spends most of the time complaining about the main characters actions or just in general gripping about how he is treated. The only time in the story that he ever actually does anything is when the main characters sends him on a dangerous sleuthing run, trying to find intimidating evidence of the murderers guilt. The ending is also rather lack luster. While the main character and antagonist do have a confrontation it only ends when the murderer somehow takes the two story fall unharmed, and climbs up the other building to the roof, where he is then shot.
The movie does fix some of the problems with the short story. It adds in more characters and actually gives them depth and purpose. Something that was clearly missing from the short story, though that is likely due to it being just that: a short story. The movie even throws in a love interest. One thing that is rather annoying about the main character in the film version is that he is changed to being far more aggressive with his detective friend. A lot of time spent between their interaction is the main character berating the detectives actions or ideas. He comes off as more of a angry boss rather than a friends. The final conflict is more focused on the two main characters in the movie more so than it was in the story. However, the effects and action shots are really wacky. For instance, if someone blinds you with a flashbulb, why would you keep slowly walking toward them while they fumble to replace the bulbs? Wouldn’t you just sprint full speed before they can change out? This is repeated three or four times, before the antagonist finally starts to attack our main character. Then the two of them struggle and our main character is thrown over the railing, where he falls in some horrid special effects. Like original Star Trek levels of bad. Not to mention the weird camera work, where all the neighbors run outside to see what is happening, except they all move like they are on fast forward on a VCR player.
Overall I do think that the movie is a better and more fleshed out version of the original story. If you can get passed the horrid affects, terrible acting, and questionable story decisions. However, I do think that the short story does a better job at capturing the psychological thriller aspect of witnessing a murder, and trying to bring the killer to justice, without much help from outside sources.