Encore for movie: ‘Encore for Murder’ comes to silver screen
by Margaret Hurlbert
March 14, 2023

MUSCATINE, Iowa–What started as a small fundraiser for the Muscatine Art Center grew into a historic night of theatre. With the blessing of local writer Max Alan Collins, a group of distinguished local actors, along with the well-know actor Gary Sandy, came together to perform “Encore for Murder” a radio play written by Collins from notes provided by the late Mickey Spillane. The one night only show proved a great success. As Chad Bishop, one of the performers in the show, observed, “the people who went to see it, bar none, really enjoyed the live version.” To give those who did not have the opportunity to watch the performance a chance to see it, and to usher in a new era of locally produced movies bringing Collins’ works to the screen, a showing of the recording for the performance will take place March 31.

As Collins observed the efforts put in by the actors and the technical crew to bring “Encore for Murder” to life, he started to seriously think about having it recorded. Through the efforts of Bishop and Phil Dingeldein, a filmmaker from the Quad Cities, this idea grew into a reality. Though the producers continue to explore opportunities to bring the filmed live production to a wider audience through avenues such as YouTube or a Blu-ray or streaming release, Bishop hoped to bring it to local audiences sooner as a taste of things to come.

March 31, a screening of “Encore for Murder” will take place at Muscatine Community College’s black box theatre, located at 152 Colorado Street in Muscatine at 7 p.m. A free performance, the producers will accept freewill donations of any size to support the production of the movie “Blue Christmas” an adaptation of Collin’s novel by the same name directed by Collins and produced and edited by Bishop.

The cast of “Encore for Murder” rehearsing in the Muscatine Community College black box theatre prior to their live performance in 2022. Photo courtesy Friends of the Muscatine Art Center.

A feature length film, it will tell the story of Richard Stone, a private detective whose former partner died under mysterious circumstances the year before on Christmas Eve. In a series of visits from ghosts reminiscent of those in Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” Stone finds the inspiration to investigate who killed his partner and bring the murderer to justice. Featuring several of the actors who shone in “Encore for Murder” as well as additional talent from the region and beyond, the film will bring Muscatine’s creativity to an even larger stage. An exciting prospect, Bishop believes it will usher in several other film collaborations with Collins, which could include a horror movie and a dramatization of “Road to  Purgatory,” the sequel to Collins’ acclaimed, “Road to Perdition.”

An opportunity to experience (or relive) the excitement of “Encore for Murder” speak with its creators, and continue the celebration of Collins’ achievements past and present started at the Muscatine Community College Legends event March 30, Bishop urges anyone who enjoys local creativity to come to this film screening. “For the screening, we’ll make it more event worthy with a q and a,” Bishop said. “If you’re curious about it, it’s a great opportunity to see it.”

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