It’s never been a secret that I adore murder mysteries, especially ones by Agatha Christie. This has passed on to board games, where the main objective of the popular game “Clue” is to find out who killed a character by the name of Mr. Black, in what room, and with which implement.
The plot of the 1985 Johnathan Lynn flick of the same name is not unlike this setup. It retains the setup of having six eccentric individuals with colour coded pseudonyms being brought to the posh Washington based manor house of Mr Black (renamed here as “Mr Boddy”) (Lee Ving), who is blackmailing each of them for a series of scandalous misdemeanors.
They consist of batty senator’s wife Mrs Peacock (Eileen Brennan), absentminded Colonel Mustard (Martin Mull), scarlet woman Miss Scarlet (Lesley Ann Warren), the lustful and corrupt Professor Plum (Christopher Lloyd), serial black widow Mrs White (Madeline Kahn) and timid, ambiguous homosexual Mr Green (Michael McKean). Under the guidance of Boddy’s loyal butler Wadsworth (Tim Curry) and flirtatious French maid Yvette (Colleen Camp), the six suspects soon find themselves embroiled in a murder plot. When Boddy turns up dead, the suspects must try to uncover who offed him so that they can save their reputations and stop the body count from increasing. But the three different endings complicate this straightforward plan…
“Clue” is one of those movies where you can tell that the actors were enjoying themselves immensely while filming it. These instances include Wadsworth gleefully having a tiff with Miss Scarlet as to how many bullets are left in a gun, to Madeline Kahn randomly seguing into a monologue about how she hated a particular person so much that it left “flames on the sides of her face”. Watching the other actors stare at her bemusedly is even more hysterial when you learn that she ad libbed that line on the spot.
One thing that sets “Clue” apart from films of a similar concept is that it contains not one, not two, but three different endings. When the movie was originally released in December of 1985, cinemas typically aired one ending each. This meant that some moviegoers had to flock to multiple showings in order to view all three endings. However, the DVD version naturally plays all three endings back to back, so that nothing is missed.
I’d recommend watching this movie for the physical comedy and the one-liners as opposed to the actual plot. The premise itself isn’t terrible in any way, it’s just that I find that the joke eclipse it more often, particularly any uttered by Tim Curry, who is just as strong here as he was in “Rocky Horror Picture Show”.
In conclusion, if you like quirky, complicated parodies of murder thrillers, then “Clue” is for you. If not, then watch an Agatha Christie adaptation such as “And Then There Were None”, also about a group of strangers being lured into a mansion, only for death to loom on the horizon. “Clue” gets 3 and a half stars from me.