This story takes place in the early
1950's, during Senator MacCarthy's communist witch hunt era, and
when J Edgar Hoover was in charge of the F.B.I. This hilariously
funny murder mystery that has the spirit of an Agatha Christi
mystery, combined with the humor and timing of a great Broadway
stage play, begins simply with Wadsworth, the butler (Tim Curry)
walking up the walkway of a huge mansion that is perched on the
top of a large hill. Upon arriving, he is greeted by two vicious
sheppards, whom he summarily disarms with some meat and bones
that he throws at them.
He proceeds into the mansion, checks
with Yvette (Colleen Camp), the maid, and Mrs. Ho (Kellye Nakahara)
the cook, to see if preparations were being made for the evenings
upcoming dinner party. Observant viewers will pick up some clues
from these scenes.
Soon, the guests begin to arrive:
the straight-laced, take charge military man, Col. Mustard (Martin
Mull), the peculiar Mrs. White (Madeline Kahn), the eccentric
Mrs. Peacock (Eileen Brennan), clumsy Mr. Green (Michael McKean),
the seductive Miss Scarlet (Lesley Ann Warren), a Madame and the
skirt-chaser Professor Plum (Christopher Lloyd), each with their
unique characteristics and personalities. It becomes evident that
some of the guests recognize Yvette and Miss Scarlett. Hmmmm!
During a rather awkward dinner, when
Mrs. Peacock tries to get a conversation going, we learn all the
guests live and work in Washington D.C.The slimy Mr. Body (Lee
Ving) arrives to join them. After dinner, they all proceed to
the study for brandy and coffee, where Wadworth states the shocking
truth; that all of them were being black-mailed. Mr. Body tries
to escape but gives up, and he comes back and sits down quietly.
Wadsworth proceeds to expose the guests' secrets, one person at
a time. Mr. Body admits that he is the one who is black-mailing
Wadsworth then informs them that
the police will be arriving in 45 minutes and if they expose Mr.
Body, their problems will be over. To help them make up their
minds, Mr. Body retrieves gifts wrapped in black paper. Inside,
are various weapons of murder: a gun, a rope, a wrench, a knife,
a pipe, and a candle stick holder. Mr Body then suggests that
instead of telling the authorities, that they kill the butler
instead. Because by exposing him, they will bring embarrassment
and ruin to them all! The lights suddenly go off, a shot is fired,
and Mr. Body is pronounced dead on the floor by Professor Plum
- perhaps too soon, as Mr. Body is later found dead in the bathroom!
Thus, starts this complicated multiple
murder mystery, fast-paced tale, with twists and turns, surprising
plot twists, which accompany the mounting corpses, all which is
done in a humorous vein. After discovering that the cook has been
stabbed, they decide to draw straws for partners and split up
to look for the murderer, not knowing if their partner is the
murderer, or if the murderer is loose somewhere in the rather
large mansion. In between their search expeditions, close calls,
adventures and other murders, a lost motorist, a policeman, and
a singing telegram girl join the party, much to their doom.
Wadsworth stops the murders by announcing
that he knows who did it! He humorously has them running from
room to room, reliving the moments of the evening in a hilariously
frenetic fashion, before revealing who the murder is in reality,
just before the arrival of the calvary.
The audience is kept guessing "who
done it," how they did it and when they did it." All the different
characters in this film are either victims or accomplices who
helped to gather the dirt on these black mail victims. There are
three different endings to this entertaining tale, which have
a different multiple murderer in each version. The video, the
laser disc and the DVD have all three endings.
This film is a classic because of
its clever, fast-paced humorous screenplay, great direction, and
a fabulous comedic cast that did their best to bring this suspenseful
screenplay to life with a roar, fully getting into their characters
and the spirit of the moment.
The marvelous screenplay by John
Landis and Jonathan Lynn, is cleverly written with building suspense
and witty dialogue, made hilarious by the perfect comic timing
and delivery of the ensemble cast, who make the parts their own.
The screenplay has some great physical humor, flawlessly executed.
The film takes place in the various rooms of the mansion, giving
the film the feel of a stage play.
The direction was well done by Jonathan
Lynn, a well known and acclaimed writer / director from British
Television, who won a ton of awards for his British TV series,
Yes, Prime Minister. As a director of films, he is best known
for his work on MY COUSIN VINNY.
They could not of gotten a better
cast for the parts. Each cast member is a comedian in his / her
own right, making the most of their character.
Tim Curry does a fabulous portrayal
of Wadsworth the butler, who finds himself not only serving and
confronting the guests, but also trying to keep them all alive
until he can figure out who is doing the killing and why. Curry
portrays a range of emotions, and is very good at mimicking the
other characters as well.
Talented character actress, Eileen
Brennan excels as the Senator's wife, with a weakness for bribe
money who has a variety of personalities, ranging from a chatty
conversationalist at dinner, determined to have a good time, who
transforms into a terrified witness, who transforms again by the
end of the story.
Madeline Kahn - This late, great
comedic character actress really brings the strange character
of Mrs. White to life, as only she could do. Twice in her career,
she was nominated for best supporting actress for her roles in
PAPER MOON and BLAZING SADDLES.
Christopher Lloyd - This versatile,
comedic / dramatic actor does a great job portraying the mildly
lecherous Professor Plum, who was a former psychiatrist who works
for the U.N., who has an eye for the ladies, a weakness that got
him into trouble.
I enjoyed Martin Mull's performance,
portraying Colonel Mustard. "This is war Peacock! Casualties are
inevitable. You can't make an omelette without breaking eggs,
every cook will tell you that."
John Morris composed the suspenseful,
spooky music which adds a nice touch to various segments of the
Clue is rated PG and is enjoyable
and suitable for family viewing.