Now that our daughter is older, one of the things we really enjoy doing with her is
inflicting on her sharing with her the popular culture of our youth. I don’t think she enjoys these share times as much as I wanted her to and she’s taken to plugging into her ipod as soon as we get in the car, but still everyone once in a while, I get to yell “Close that laptop and pay attention to this thing that was created before you were born!”
Clue though? Clue we can agree on.
I’ll forgive you if you have never seen the movie and are groaning over the idea of a feature film based on a board game. It’s OK. Battleship ruined it for everyone. But Clue isn’t some quick buck film. It’s a murder mystery comedy that incorporates the basic premise of the game (solving who killed Mr. Body and with what weapon), stacks the deck with some of the best comedians working at the time, and invests in a clever, witty script that the actors nail.
Seriously, look at this cast – Leslie Ann Warren (Mrs. Scarlet), Tim Curry (The Butler), Micheal Mckean (Mr. Green), Christopher Lloyd (Professor Plum), Martin Mull (Colonel Mustard), Eileen Brennan (Mrs. Peacock), and the late and lamented Madeline Kahn (Mrs. White). I can’t even imagine what the pitch meeting was like to get all of them to sign on, because, again, it’s a movie based on a board game. I don’t care what devil deal got made that day, because in the end, I got this scene out of it:
The plot in brief – six strangers are summoned to an isolated country home to meet the man who has been blackmailing them. At some point during the evening, one of the guests takes it upon themselves to off Mr. Body. The group investigates the house and each other as people start dropping like flies. There’s a conservatory, a ball room, the kitchen and secret passages, as well as the iconic weapons – candlestick, gun, noose, wrench, pipe, and the knife. The who dunnit is complicated by dialogue that zings along and a plotline loaded with red herrings, something even the characters call attention to. The film was released into theaters with three separate endings, A, B, and C, and there was no telling which one you got to watch. It’s a nod to how strong the writing and directing was that all three endings were completely plausible, requiring no rewrites or reinterpretations of the facts presented on screen. Once Clue went to videotape all three endings are included. Watching them back to back highlights how tight the comedy was.
I’ve seen the film well over a dozen times now. Every viewing uncovers a new gag or a new take on a line I hadn’t really noticed before. Mrs. Scarlet, a “scarlet lady,” loses a piece of clothing in every new scene. One of the endings is an homage to Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express while the murders are patterned after her novel 10 Little Indians. The Seanate House UnAmerican hearings play in the background of an early scene while much of the movie makes references to the communist scare and cracks jokes about J. Edgar Hoover tapping people’s phone lines. A painting in the main room gives away the identity of one of the characters – something that I just now caught in my umpteenth rewatch. Lee Ving, singer for the band Fear, was cast because of his name. His character, Mr. Body, will be LeaVing soon. This movie keeps on giving.
And you should take what it’s offering.