How 'The Mousetrap' and 'Witness for the Prosecution' inspired modern whodunnits

The Mousetrap and Witness for the Prosecution influenced the acclaimed films.

Sophie Thomas
Sophie Thomas

Ahead of the BAFTA nominations on 19 January, there's already one popular movie genre over the past 12 months — whodunnits. Films like See How They Run and Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery placed a large magnifying glass over the murder mysteries.

Both See How They Run and Glass Onions: A Knives Out Mystery take inspiration from the queen of murder mystery, Agatha Christie. Glass Onions: A Knives Out Mystery’s lead protagonist, detective Benoit Blanc, is inspired by Christie's fictional character, Belgian investigator Hercule Poirot. There's even elements of The Mousetrap in the film's plot, as Glass Onion follows a group of friends as they unsuspectingly find themselves at the centre of a murder case.

See How They Run takes the Agatha Christie references one step further, adding a meta layer. The central murder takes place backstage after the opening performance of The Mousetrap in the West End, and the movie's plot and characters are loosely based on the stock characters of Christie's play. The script also sends up a real-life clause in The Mousetrap's theatrical contract, which says the play can't get a film adaptation until it closes in the West End. Of course, it never has, but See How They Run is a clever workaround.

Plus, The St. Martin’s Theatre — where The Mousetrap's actual performances take place — is the central location for the movie. The Ambassadors Theatre and the Old Vic are also used throughout the film.

There's currently two Agatha Christie plays running in London. The Mousetrap continues as the longest-running play in history, meanwhile Witness for the Prosecution celebrates its fifth anniversary at London County Hall. Discover more about the courtroom dramas and whodunnits in London.

See How They Run is longlisted for Outstanding British Film and Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer.

Glass Onions: A Knives Out Mystery is longlisted for Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress (for Janelle Monáe), Best Costume Design and Best Original Score.

Aimee Lou Wood is nominated in the BAFTA Rising Star category. She’s soon to play Sally Bowles in Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club.

Book The Mousetrap tickets on London Theatre.

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Book Witness for the Prosecution tickets on London Theatre.

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Photo credit: See How They Run (Photo courtesy of Searchlight Pictures)

Originally published on

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