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CLUE (1985)

Six people, given assumed names by their mysterious party host, are invited to a dinner party at Hill House, under the hospitality of Wadsworth, the Butler. Mr. Body is revealed by Wadsworth to be the one who has been blackmailing them all. When Mr. Body is shot in the dark, the 6 guests soon find themselves embroiled in an escalating multiple murder mystery where they must find the murderer, or risk being the next victim before the police arrive.

The cast includes: Eileen Brennan, Tim Curry, Madeline Kahn, Christopher Lloyd, Michael McKean, Martin Mull, Lesley Ann Warren; with Colleen Camp, Lee Ving, Kelly Nakahara, and Howard Hesseman.

Directed by: Jonathan Lynn. Screenplay by: John Landis and Jonathan Lynn, based on the CLUE board game by Anthony E. Pratt.

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"Seven Suspects, Six Weapons, Five Bodies and Three Endings."

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 (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 (Camp), the maid, and Mrs. Ho (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 (Mull), the peculiar Mrs. White (Kahn), the eccentric Mrs. Peacock (Brennan), clumsy Mr. Green (McKean), the seductive Miss Scarlet (Warren), a Madame and the skirt-chaser Professor Plum (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 (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 them all.

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 storyline.

Clue is rated PG and is enjoyable and suitable for family viewing.

If you enjoyed CLUE, you may like MURDER BY DEATH, SLEUTH, TEN LITTLE INDIANS, THEN THERE WERE NONE, DEATH ON THE NILE, MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS, and/or A SHOT IN THE DARK.

 

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