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31st Toronto Jewish Film Festival June 1 - 11, 2023

The Suicide Murders


Screening Information

June 1 – June 14
TJFF Virtual Cinema

Film Details

Country Canada
Year 1985
Running Time 90 MIN
Language English
Director Graham Parker

Tagged In The Following Film Lists


Saul Rubinek plays the small-town private investigator Benny Cooperman in this adaptation of the first novel in Howard Engel’s mystery series. In the first of two CBC television films, the detective is asked by the wife of a wealthy developer (Kate Trotter) to investigate her husband. The case seems routine until the husband commits suicide, leading to a larger case targeting the town’s power elite. Set in a fictional Ontario small town based on the writer’s birthplace of St. Catharines, this gumshoe is unmistakably Canadian and Jewish—we even see Cooperman taking time off for Shabbat dinner with his parents (his father is by Rubinek’s father, Israel). There are wonderful supporting roles featuring with some of Canada’s best acting talent—Gerard Parkes, Sharry Flett, Chuck Shamata, Helen Hughes—and even a terrific short cameo by Maury Chaykin.

“Engel (who contributed the script) does for this film precisely what Robert Altman achieved in The Long Goodbye. He explodes some cliches and exploits others… But where Altman upset our expectations by inverting the Philip Marlowe stereotype and by so doing creating a sleuth every bit as dumb as he looked, as confused as the rest of us, Engel reflips the coin and imprints it with a quintessential Canadian stamp. He gives us a protagonist brighter than he thinks and better than he knows.” (Rick Groen, The Globe and Mail)

See also Murder Sees The Light

Presentation Details

Photo Credit Fred Phipps/CBC Still Photo Collection