Review of “Clue” (1985)

trailer for “Clue”

This is our latest Saturday pizza and bad movie offering for a rainy evening. We didn’t have the thunder and lightning the flick showed—or any of the murders—but we had every bit of the downpour.

Plot:

In 1954, six strangers arrive at an old mansion in the middle of nowhere, having received a dinner invitation with a further promise of relieving a financial burden. All these people are quite wealthy. What sort of money worries could they have? As they appear, Wadsworth, the butler (Tim Curry), addresses them with pseudonyms—the familiar names from the game. Nevertheless, a couple of people recognize each other.

Dinner begins without the appearance of the homeowner/Wadsworth’s employer, Mr. Boddy (Lee Ving). (Not a red flag or anything.) When he does show up, he’s obviously surprised to see everyone and declines food, as he’s already eaten. Wadsworth reveals that the six have one thing in common; they are all victims of blackmail. Mr. Boddy is the one blackmailing them.

Mr. Boddy reminds the assembled that all their dirty little secrets will come to light if he is arrested. He passes around boxes containing weapons—the familiar ones from the board game (lead pipe, rope, candlestick, etc.). He suggests someone kill Wadsworth. Oh, he’ll keep blackmailing them, but their secrets will remain safe.

He turns the lights off. In the darkness, there are thumps and bangs. A gunshot rings out, and a woman screams. When the lights come back on, the six find Wadsworth fine, but Mr. Boddy lies on the ground, unresponsive. No one can determine how he died. The bullet grazed the side of his head, broke a vase, and lodged in the wall.

Wadsworth then ‘fesses up that he sent the invitations. Mr. Boddy blackmailed his wife, who took her own life over the matter. He wanted to free others from the schemes. Mrs. Peacock sips champagne until warned it might be poisoned. She screams, long and loud, covering any sounds that might be coming from the kitchen, where someone sticks a knife into the back of the cook (Kellye Nakahara).

And the night is young.

Thoughts:

When this was released to theaters in 1985, it had three different endings. A fourth was shot but never used, as the production thought not very good. The DVD includes all three endings, interspersed with intertitles: “How it Might Have Happened,” “How About This?” and “Here’s What Really Happened.”

In all honesty, at this point, it almost doesn’t matter whodunit. All solutions are equally improbable. The movie is peopled with outlandish characters whose actions are exaggerated and silly. It’s fun to watch them.

When the doorbell rings, the entire cast of living characters runs to the door to find an innocent (…maybe…) motorist explaining his car broke down and asking to use the phone. Wadsworth turns from him and confers—in front of the guy—with everyone. He then turns back with a smile on his face. Of course, he can use the phone. Sure. Step into the stud—er, the library. He doesn’t add—though he could have— that the study was, um, occupied.

The dialogue is fast, full of misunderstandings and witticisms. This is cute and amusing, but it doesn’t have any bearing on the plot per se. For example:

Colonel Mustard: Just checking.
Mrs. Peacock: Everything all right?
Colonel Mustard: Yep. Two corpses. Everything’s fine.

Tim Curry as Wadsworth is a joy: sinister, vulnerable, officious, and befuddled all rolled into one character. Madeline Kahn as the widowed Mrs. White is also great—the moment she and the maid Yvette (Colleen Camp) set eyes on each other, you know the two have history, and the phrase “shtupped my husband” is going to appear. Frankly, there isn’t a slouch in the bunch. Even hackneyed slapstick gags (a built-in ironing board lands on a character’s head while they’re searching the house) become chuckle-worthy.

The three endings make the movie a little long—not to mention confusing. This did not pose an obstacle for me, but a few things struck me as rather cold. In the midst of the six characters scurrying around trying to find who might be causing all the death and destruction, the doorbell rings (it does that a lot in the movie). On the doorstep—in the rain—is a young lady (Jane Wiedlin) with a singing telegram. She barely gets out a few lines before someone shoots her dead.

Overall, I enjoyed this movie. It was darkly humorous, didn’t take itself seriously, and didn’t over-tax the intellect.

I could not find this available for free download.

Title: Clue (1985)

Directed by
Jonathan Lyn

Writing Credits
John Landis…(story) and
Jonathan Lynn…(story)
Jonathan Lynn…(screenplay)
Anthony E. Pratt…(board game Cluedo)(uncredited)

Cast (in credits order)
Eileen Brennan…Mrs. Peacock
Tim Curry…Wadsworth
Madeline Kahn…Mrs. White
Christopher Lloyd…Professor Plum
Michael McKean…Mr. Green
Martin Mull…Colonel Mustard
Lesley Ann Warren…Miss Scarlet
Colleen Camp…Yvette
Lee Ving…Mr. Boddy
Bill Henderson…The Cop
Jane Wiedlin…The Singing Telegram Girl
Jeffrey Kramer…The Motorist
Kellye Nakahara…The Cook

Released: 1985
Length: 1 hour, 34 minutes
Rated: PG

Published by 9siduri

I have written book and movie reviews for the late and lamented sites Epinions and Examiner. I have book of reviews of speculative fiction from before 1900, and short works in publications such Mobius, Protea Poetry Journal, and, most recently, Wisconsin Review and Drunken Pen Writing. I'm busily working away on a book of reviews pulp science fiction stories from the 1930s-1960s. It's a lot of fun. I am the author of the short story "Always Coming Home," a chapbook of poetry titled "Sotto Voce," and a collection of reviews of pre-1900 speculative fiction, "By Firelight."

2 thoughts on “Review of “Clue” (1985)

  1. Talk about a small world. Last night I was playing Clue with my eleven-and-a-half-year-old granddaughter and my nine-and-a-half-year-old grandson. I add the halves to their ages because I’m trying to give them full credit for all their years and months of wisdom. While we played the game, I told them there was a movie based on the game. After the game I looked up the movie, thinking we might watch it. But I determined they were too young for it. Then I checked my email quickly, and I excitedly told them that a blogger I followed had just reviewed the movie! There is a remake of this movie in the works, and I hope they cut out all the male characters who grope women.

    1. How funny. Small world indeed! Yes, there was a lot of groping and ogling in the movie. The last I heard about the remake it was on hold or abandoned. Too bad. It could have been a lot of fun. I miss playing games like that.

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a note.

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