- Clue (film)
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Jonathan Lynn Produced by Debra Hill Written by Jonathan Lynn
Based on Board Game
Anthony E. Pratt
Starring Tim Curry
Lesley Ann Warren
Music by John Morris Cinematography Victor J. Kemper Editing by David Bretherton
Studio PolyGram Filmed Entertainment Distributed by Paramount Pictures Release date(s) December 13, 1985 Running time 94 minutes Country United States Language English
Box office $14,643,997 (USA)
Clue is a 1985 comedy mystery film based on the board game of the same name (Cluedo outside North America). The film is a murder mystery set in a Gothic Revival mansion, and is styled after Murder by Death (which also featured Clue star Eileen Brennan) and other various murder/dinner parties of mystery. The film was directed by Jonathan Lynn, who collaborated on the script with John Landis, and stars Tim Curry, Eileen Brennan, Martin Mull, Lesley Ann Warren, Christopher Lloyd, Michael McKean, Madeline Kahn, Colleen Camp, and Lee Ving. The film was produced by Debra Hill.
In keeping with the nature of the board game, in theatrical release the movie was shown with one of three possible endings, with different theaters receiving each ending. (In the film's home video release, all three endings were included.) The film received mixed reviews and did poorly at the box office, ultimately grossing $14,643,997 domestically in the USA alone.
Clue was Paramount's first adaptation of a now current Hasbro property (though Clue was owned by General Mills' subsidiary Parker Brothers under license from Waddingtons at the time, not Hasbro), predating by 19 years its deal to distribute other films and television series based on Hasbro properties. Universal Studios announced that a remake is in the works with a release date set for 2013.
In 1954, against a backdrop of McCarthyism, six strangers are invited to a party in a secluded New England mansion. They are met by the house butler, Wadsworth (Tim Curry), who reminds them each that they have been given pseudonyms to protect their true identity. During dinner the seventh guest Mr. Boddy (Lee Ving) arrives. After dinner, Wadsworth reveals the true nature of the party: all of the guests are being blackmailed to hide their secrets:
- Mrs. Peacock (Eileen Brennan), a Senator's wife, has accepted bribes to deliver her husband's vote. Initially extroverted and gregarious with the guests, her true neurotic personality comes through when the murders start. She is often prone to hysterics when under anxiety.
- Miss Scarlet (Lesley Ann Warren), a madam, who operates an illegal bordello in Washington, DC. She is a brash, voluptuous woman who relies on her sardonic sense of humor as a "defense mechanism" in stressful situations.
- Mr. Green (Michael McKean) is homosexual, a secret that would cost him his job with the State Department if it were widely known. He is a clumsy, timid man, who is often accident-prone.
- Professor Plum (Christopher Lloyd), a psychiatrist, who lost his license because he had an affair with a female patient. He now works for the World Health Organization. He's an eccentric intellectual, who harbors some perverted tendencies toward women.
- Mrs. White (Madeline Kahn), an alleged black widow, who was drawn in to avoid a scandal regarding the mysterious death of her nuclear physicist husband who knew the secret of the next fusion bomb. She was previously married to an illusionist, who incidentally disappeared under mysterious circumstances. An icy femme fatale-type, who is often emotionally detached.
- Colonel Mustard (Martin Mull) is at first thought to be being blackmailed for some scandalous pictures. It was later revealed that he was a war profiteer who made his money from selling stolen radio components on the black market and now works at The Pentagon. When he answers the door, he begins to reveal his real name, but is interrupted by the butler. He is a good strategist, and under his suggestion, arranges for the guests to split up and search the house for the murderer, but is often dim on matters of common-sense.
Finally, Wadsworth reveals Mr. Boddy's secret: he is the one who has been blackmailing them. Wadsworth has gathered all the guests together to confront Mr. Boddy and turn him over to the police, which he later reveals is as revenge against Mr. Boddy, who is his former employer, because Boddy's blackmail had resulted in his wife committing suicide.
Mr. Boddy reminds the guests that he can reveal their secrets in police custody and offers them an alternative proposition: by using weapons that he has provided to each of them, they can kill Wadsworth and destroy the evidence, keeping their secrets safe. Mr. Boddy turns out the lights in the room, creating a moment of chaos, in which someone shoots the gun. When they are brought back up, Mr. Boddy is dead, seemingly murdered by an unknown cause in the study (there is no gunshot wound, just a bullet hole in the wall). The guests all quickly deny killing him, and are later proven right as Mr. Boddy (previously faking his death) is ultimately found murdered with the candlestick in the hall. Wadsworth and the guests try to deduce who killed Mr. Boddy by exploring the house. During their slapstick explorations, Mrs. Ho, the cook (Kellye Nakahara), and Yvette, the maid (Colleen Camp), are murdered with the dagger and the rope in the kitchen and the billiard room, respectively, along with three others that visit the house during their investigation: a stranded motorist (Jeffrey Kramer), a police officer (Bill Henderson) investigating the motorist's abandoned car, and a singing telegram girl (Jane Wiedlin), with the wrench, the lead pipe, and the gun in the lounge, the library, and the hall, respectively.
Wadsworth comes to the conclusion that he knows who the murderer is, and runs through a frantic, madcap re-enactment of the entire evening with the guests in tow. Wadsworth points out that the victims in the other murders were tied to the secrets of the guests. In preparation to reveal the murderer of Mr. Boddy, Wadsworth turns off the electricity to the house. At this point, the story proceeds to one of three endings: A, B, or C. In the film's initial theatrical run, some theaters announced which ending the viewer would see. In the VHS home video and releases, and most television broadcasts, the three endings are shown sequentially, with the first two characterized as possible endings, but ending C being the true one. The DVD home release also provides the option of a random single ending.
Miss Scarlet is the true culprit, having used her former call girl Yvette to murder Mr. Boddy and the cook, while she herself killed the others to keep her true business of "secrets extortion" safe, planning on using the information learned tonight for her own benefit. Wadsworth reveals himself to be an FBI agent and arrests Miss Scarlet as police secure the house.
Mrs. Peacock is revealed as the murderer of all the victims, and escapes after holding the others at gunpoint. However, Wadsworth reveals himself as an FBI agent with the night set up to spy on Mrs. Peacock's activities, believing her to be taking bribes by foreign powers, and the police quickly capture her as she flees.
It is revealed that no one person committed all of the murders. Professor Plum killed Mr. Boddy, Mrs. Peacock killed the cook, Colonel Mustard killed the motorist, Mrs. White killed Yvette, Miss Scarlet killed the cop, and the singing telegram girl was shot and killed by Wadsworth. It is revealed that Wadsworth is the true Mr. Boddy, and that the man that was killed was his own butler. Wadsworth had brought the other victims (his accomplices in the blackmail scheme) to the house to be killed by the guests, and thus plans to continue to extort his blackmail scheme over them. Mr. Green then reveals himself as an FBI agent and shoots Wadsworth; as police raid the house, the other guests are arrested for murder. It is also revealed that his earlier stated homosexuality was part of his cover, signified by his final line in the movie: "Okay, Chief, take 'em away. I'm gonna go home and sleep with my wife."
A fourth scenario was scripted and filmed, but was very different from the comedic nature of the main plot. It survives in the original novelization of the film and the Clue Storybook, the latter with a single photograph. It has been screened on network television but is not included on the DVD.
Wadsworth, after pretending to be dead, says that he killed Boddy as well as the other victims, and then reveals to the guests that he has poisoned them all so that there will be no witnesses and he will have committed the perfect crime. As he runs through the house to disable the phones and lock the doors, the chief detective – who had earlier been posing as an evangelist (a cameo by Howard Hesseman) – returns, followed by the police, who disarm Wadsworth. Wadsworth then repeats the confession that he had given earlier to the guests, physically acting out each scene himself. When he arrives at the part about meeting Colonel Mustard at the door, he steps through the door, closes it, and locks it, leaving all the guests trapped inside. The police and guests escape through a window, while Wadsworth attempts to make a getaway in a police squad car, only to hear the growling of a Doberman Pinscher from the backseat.
According to Tim Curry, the fourth ending involved Wadsworth killing all of the other characters. It didn't involve the characters escaping.
- Eileen Brennan as Mrs. Peacock
- Tim Curry as Wadsworth
- Madeline Kahn as Mrs. White
- Christopher Lloyd as Professor Plum
- Michael McKean as Mr. Green
- Martin Mull as Colonel Mustard
- Lesley Ann Warren as Miss Scarlet
- Colleen Camp as Yvette
- Lee Ving as Mr. Boddy
- Bill Henderson as The Cop
- Jane Wiedlin as The Singing Telegram Girl
- Jeffrey Kramer as The Motorist
- Kellye Nakahara as The Cook
- Howard Hesseman (uncredited) as The Evangelist/The Chief
Clue was filmed on sound stages at the Paramount Pictures film studios in Hollywood. The set design is credited to Les Gobruegge, Gene Nollmanwas, and William B. Majorand, with set decoration by Thomas L. Roysden. After the completion of the movie, the set was bought by the producers of Dynasty, who used it as the fictional hotel The Carlton.
All scenes were filmed within the studio lot, with the exception of the ballroom scene and the driveway gate scene, which were filmed on location at a mansion located in South Pasadena, California. Exterior shots of the mansion were enhanced with matte paintings by famed matte artist Syd Dutton, in consultation with Albert Whitlock. This site was destroyed in a fire on October 5, 2005. To decorate the set, authentic 18th and 19th century furnishings were rented from private collectors, including the estate of Theodore Roosevelt.
The film was released theatrically on December 13, 1985. In 1986, it was released on VHS in Canada and the U.S. In other countries, it was released on VHS on February 11, 1991. The DVD was released in June 2000. In February 2011, La-La Land Records released John Morris' score for the film as a limited-edition soundtrack CD.
Clue was released on December 13, 1985 and ultimately grossed $14,643,997 domestically, just short of its $15,000,000 budget. The film was received with mixed reviews. Janet Maslin, of The New York Times wrote negatively of the film and stated that the beginning of the movie "is the only part of the film that is remotely engaging. After that, it begins to drag." Despite mixed critical reception, the film currently holds a 70% "fresh" rating on the film aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, with an average score of 6 out of 10. It has also amassed a cult following.
- ^ a b "Clue (1985)". Boxofficemojo.com. 1988-07-05. http://boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=clue.htm. Retrieved 2009-08-07.
- ^ a b IMDb.com
- ^ Clue Review - Roger Ebert. December 12, 1985.
- ^ "Clue - The Movie Guide". Cluedofan.com. http://www.cluedofan.com/movie/movie.htm. Retrieved 2009-08-07.
- ^ Trivia
- ^ UGO.com
- ^ "Full cast and crew for Clue (1985)". www.imdb.com. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0088930/fullcredits#cast. Retrieved 2007-08-15.
- ^ "Photos from Filming Location - 2003". www.theartofmurder.com. http://www.fast-rewind.com/. Retrieved 2007-08-15.
- ^ "80s Rewind, Clue (1985)". www.fast-rewind.com. http://www.fast-rewind.com/. Retrieved 2007-08-15.
- ^ "Clue Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/clue/?dvd_ver=1#sell_thru_main. Retrieved 2009-08-07.
- ^ "Clue Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/clue/?dvd_ver=7#sell_thru_main. Retrieved 2009-08-07.
- ^ "La-La Land Records Clue Soundtrack". La-La Land Records. http://www.lalalandrecords.com/Clue.html. Retrieved 2011-02-22.
- ^ "'Clue,' from Game to Film". The New York Times. December 13, 1985. http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9C05E3DE143BF930A25751C1A963948260. Retrieved 2009-08-07.
- ^ "Clue Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/clue/. Retrieved 2011-01-13.
- ^ Interview with Tim Curry
- ^ By (2009-02-24). "Gore Verbinski to develop 'Clue'". Variety. http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118000533.html?categoryid=13&cs=1. Retrieved 2009-08-07.
- Clue at the Internet Movie Database
- Clue at Box Office Mojo
- Clue at Rotten Tomatoes
- Clue at Metacritic
- Clue film transcript
- Clue Movie Guide fan site
Films directed by Jonathan Lynn 1980sClue (1985) 1990s 2000s 2010sWild Target (2010)
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