Picks and Pans Review: Gosford Park

updated 01/14/2002 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/14/2002 AT 01:00 AM EST

Kristin Scott Thomas, Maggie Smith, Michael Gambon, Helen Mirren

When a married aristocrat and his mistress are caught in a clinch by a servant, the blue blood assures her, "It's nobody." Such was the attitude of the upstairs classes for the downstairs masses in Britain in 1932, the year in which director Robert Altman's slight but enjoyable homage to Masterpiece Theatre and Agatha Christie mysteries is set. During a weekend party at the country estate of Sir William McCordle (Gambon), a fat cat whose earnings support his two-timing wife (Thomas) and her extended family, someone is murdered. Suspicion falls on both masters and servants. Though one can spot whodunit from across the parlor floor, it's fun seeing a huge, all-star English cast amuse themselves sipping tea and washing out finger bowls, even if it's tough to keep all the characters straight. (R)

Bottom Line: Murder most amusing

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