Clue (1985)

Clue (1985)

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As the service had been sub-par, the guests took matters into their own hands.
As the service had been sub-par, the guests took matters into their own hands.

Twitter Plot Summary: The board game comes to life as a group of very funny people try and work out who killed Mr Boddy.

Genre: Comedy/Crime/Mystery/Thriller

Director: Jonathan Lynn

Key Cast: Eileen Brennan, Tim Curry, Madeline Kahn, Christopher Lloyd, Michael McKean, Martin Mull, Lesley Ann Warren, Colleen Camp, Lee Ving.

Five Point Summary:

1. Tim Curry = this will be awesome.
2. That dog poo gag is very, very funny.
3. The mansion is a character in itself. Most creepy.
4. So they split up into pairs to search the house? Sounds dubious to me.
5. Three endings? My brain hurts.

Try and name a film adapted from a board game that’s any good. Apart from Battleship. Can you think of any? Dungeons and Dragons (all three of them) are rather poor, and whilst there have been a number optioned by big name producers (Ridley Scott’s Monopoly is apparently festering somewhere in development hell), very few have actually made it all the way to the big screen.

On paper, Clue shouldn’t really work. Known as Cluedo in the UK (and probably everywhere else outside the United States), the film is set in the 1950s at the height of the Communist witch hunts. Six guests (Colonel Mustard, Mrs Peacock, Mrs White, Professor Plum, Miss Scarlet and Mr Green) are all called to an imposing mansion in the middle of nowhere at the behest of Mr Boddy. For various reasons he’s blackmailing all of them and, after they’re all moved into the drawing room and discover their reason for being there, the lights go out, weapons are used/discharged and the lights come back up to reveal that Mr Boddy has been murdered. What follows is an intricate murder mystery as they try to figure out who the killer is whilst all being suspicious of each other. It’s a pressure boiler that, with these particular characters, is a gift that keeps on giving. Each exchange serves a purpose, be it to push the story forward, explore a character’s history, or to just tell a joke. When you have the likes of Michael McKean, Madeline Kahn and Tim Curry on board, the funnies are never far behind.

Great Scott!
Great Scott!

Subsequently, the interplay between each of the characters is exceptional, and each of them by necessity of them all being blackmail victims, has a full backstory to explain why they are there and what they have to gain from bumping off their blackmailer. The script also deserves mention, not only for being consistently funny, not only for conjuring a genuine sense of mystery, and not only for giving each character a motive to bump off certain characters, but for tying it all up nicely in not one but three different endings. When the film was first released in cinemas in 1985 you would have seen one of those three endings. It wasn’t until the later video and DVD releases that all three would be available, one after the other. The DVD had the added bonus of picking an ending at random, emulating the cinema release. Each of the weapons from the board game also finds use throughout the film, with additional characters introduced just to be bumped off, yet these characters are also inextricably linked to our core six characters for reasons that will become apparent as you watch it.

Clue deserves mention for breaking the preconception that adaptations of board games/toy lines are bad, and the fact this happened in 1985 deserves plaudits. IMDB states that this was the first adaptation of a board game to make it to the big screen, which implies that movie makers completely missed the point with subsequent adaptations of other properties. Forget about them, just watch Clue and revel in the fun.

Favourite scene: Wadsworth welcoming each of the guests to the mansion. Does its job with the minimum of exposition.

Quote: “Why has the car stopped?” “It’s frightened!”

Silly Moment: When the obviously named Mr Boddy is bumped off. Bet you didn’t see that coming.

Score: 4/5

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