Six guests are united at the Hillside Mansion under mysterious circumstances. Once the unexpected seventh guest is murdered, they must work together to solve the case before the police are involved. Every guest has a secret in this zany whodunit
When Clue came out in 1985 it was a box office disappointment; a small comedy that did not receive much publicity and or attention.
Since then, Clue has slowly gone on to build an almost cult like following. It is a hidden gem loved by everyone. Over the years, I have had many conversations with all kinds of people and am constantly surprised to know that there is a world out there, full of Clue fanatics. For me, Clue isnít just a great film; it is my personal favorite of all time.
The film centers around American politics and blackmail. Six strangers gather in a New England mansion where they are thrust into a crazy night of multiple murders and mayhem.Jonathan Lynn directed a perfect little murder mystery with comedy, suspense and fantastic performance. The cast in Clue were all at the top of their game. They bought into the film and it shows.
Lynnís slapstick didnít go too far. It wasnít like ďAirplaneĒ but it straddled the fine line perfectly by offering goofy laughs along with beautifully written ones as well.
The writing was tight. Mixed in were a few cheesy clunkers but when you balance it off with the rest of the film, they were more than tolerable. Building a perfect mystery starts with the pen and trickles down. The screenplay was brilliant. Giving you likable characters based on the Parker Bros. Board game. The story starts a bit dark; a dash of evil is suggested. It then turns lighter. Ironically, once the murders begin, the comedy increases.
With Clue, the laughs came from everywhere; site gags, to one liner's, dumb humor to well thought out dialogue building and choreographed physical comedy. Not many films have been able to create the seamless balance of these varying styles like Clue.The flow of the film was effortless as well. From the slower paced beginning to the almost sprint like third act, Clue offered you twists and turns in itís pace allowing the audience to continuously be refreshed along with every new plot revelation.
Set in the 1950ís, Clue relied on some of the oldies to give it an authentic feel. With the exception of a few exterior scenes, the film takes place within the confines of the mansion. Therefore the setting needed to be welcoming to viewers while acting as a prison to the characters. The filmís choice in house was magnificent! Filmed on a mansion set, the look, colors and feel of this house are the heartbeat of the film. As with most of my reviews, a strong attention is made to location and scenery. Everything about the mansion was welcoming. It was what a murder mystery mansion should look like. If ever a template was to be set, this was it.
Wadsworth - The Butler
The maestro of the film is Wadsworth, played by the talented Tim Curry. Wadsworth conducts the whole zany night. Leading all the characters, without a clue. His rapid and excessive explanations and directions help create panic and urgency in a scene. Though Wadsworth had so many highlights in the film, his ultimate would be act three in which Curry runs down the entire nightís proceedings in order to illustrate the mysteryís solution. He literally takes over the screen for a solid 15 minutes and to Curryís credit, he held you there.
Mrs. White - The Rope
The great Madeline Kahn. Landing her for the role gave this film a huge boost. Truly one of the greatest if not greatest film comedians ever. Her delivery and timing is an art that seems lost on women today. Mrs. White was the woman to watch, in more ways than one. Her auspicious ways and fat file made her a worry to anyone with their back turned. Her greatest moment would be when she was trying to explain the feeling of rage that she felt for the maid, Yvette.
Mr. Green - The Lead Pipe
Michael McKean portrayed the homosexual and clumsy twit. Often a nervous wreck Green seemed like the prime suspect for the reason he came off as the most unlikely. Greens crowning moment, though he provided much of the physical comedy with his clumsiness, was when he and Yvette were attempting to journey up to check the attic. Though there was conviction in his voice to lead the way, his body refused to moveÖ for a very long time.
Colonel Mustard - The Wrench
The tough Colonel, played by Martin Mull, was clearly a facade. As the film motors along he clearly becomes the one of the most unglued yet continues to attempt to take charge. Mullís decision to play the Colonel with some vulnerability made him very lovable. The Colonelís shinning moment was his back and forth dialogue with Wadsworth. Particularly when he was trying to uncover if anyone else, other than the invited guests were in the house.
Mrs. Peacock - The Knife
Eileen Brennan was absolutely awesome. The scatter brained Peacock quickly became a high maintenance drama queen. Not dealing well with the pressure, her constant shouting along with Brennanís uniquely aged voice is always good for an instant laugh. Peacock was flying highest when she thought she was poisoned. Her hysterical screams sent the movie into overdrive in the panic mode department.
Miss Scarlet - The Candlestick
The one minor casting flaw in the film; I say minor because Lesley Ann Warren was great in this film, but I thought Scarlet needed to embody a more convincing old Hollywood look. The performance was lacking nothing. The tough talking, in control Scarlet may be dainty but she was no pushover. Scarletís best moment I feel was continuous banter with Colonel Mustard.Along with a great supporting cast of Mr. Body (the Victim), Yvette (The Maid) and others, the last lead characterÖ
Professor Plum - The Revolver
The comedically gifted Christopher Lloyd brought this sophisticated and sex crazed doctor to life. With delivery like only Lloyd could produce his one liner's often were enough to make you slap your knee with laughs. Plumís moment was, as predicted, a one liner when he was paired up with Mrs. Peacock to search the house. A dead pan delivery of the line ďitís you and me honey bunchĒ was a Lloyd classic.
Then ending was also a genius touch wasted on a film that dissevered a much better fate. Playing in the theatre with three different endings was a perfect fit for this type of film. Playing out the three scenarios to their completion gave viewers a fresh and new film experience all while improving the telling of the story. Even better is when the film was played later on television with only one ending and you never knew which one was going to be played.
Between the awesome house and the lighthearted and hilarious cast, the only thing missing from Clue is Ö more Clue. A special edition DVD is not yet in the making but a while back I contacted Jonathan Lynn about the possibilities and was told that if enough people wrote Paramount, it could only help the cause. Words from the director himself. So if you are a Clue fan, get the word out there. Iím not sure how much footage there is but even a reunion or modern interviews would at least fill the void that is currently standing. Clue deserves that.To close I will say this, there are a great number of films out there that top film lists. I guarantee that Clue is one of the most unappreciated and undiscovered films that heads many lists. In my day, Iíve met more than I ever thought possible. So if you havenít seen this film, treat yourself. If you have and love it, write Paramount. And if you donít like it, hey, art is subjective and that is its beautyÖ.but man, are you wrong!