My sister challenged me to write a review for Clue. I laughed at her. Then I tried it.
Warnings for self-indulgent nostalgia.
The first movie ever based on a board game. Also the best movie based on a board game. (That’s not entirely fair since I haven’t actually seen Battleship, but to hell with it.)
Six strangers are invited to a creepy house for a dinner party. It’s all fun and blackmail and monkey brains until someone gets killed, and the guests have to find out who the murderer is before the police arrive.
1. This is less of a review and more of a semi-ordered list of squee and light snark. Okay, that sounds like all my reviews, but what I’m trying to say here is that you shouldn’t be looking at this for objectivity because you will find none here. Let’s not even pretend about that.
Now. I love Clue. I LOVE it. I have said this before, and I will probably say it again. I can’t actually remember the first time I watched this movie. It just seems to be something that’s always existed. It’s also one of the two movies that I tormented my mother with by watching over and over and over again. (Actually, I think she liked it better when I was two years old and watching Cinderella non-stop. It was my sister who detested that particular phase and tried to hide the movie from me, the fiend. Thankfully, Mek was on board a few years later when it came to obsessively watching Clue and driving our mother mad. Yay, fun times.)
As this is such a giant nostalgia movie for me, I never know if I should recommend it to people. Or, rather, I will recommend it, but I’ll usually attach the “I’ve watched this movie since I was a kid” caveat because I don’t know how an adult watching Clue for the first time would react to it, particularly with the switches in tone. I mean, I’d like to think it’s clearly a silly movie the very second Wadsworth steps in dog shit, but it does seem to start out life as a quieter comedy before it progresses into Full Out Wackiness. Clearly, I don’t consider this a bad thing, but I just can’t guess how other people will react to it.
2. It can’t be said enough . . . Tim Curry is amazing.
Tim Curry, in fact, is the epitome of awesome, and while I love him in a ton of movies . . . clearly . . . this is my favorite role of his to date, and I have a really hard time seeing that changing any time in the near future. He plays Wadsworth, the butler, and he’s just . . . he’s just awesome. At first, he’s fairly dry, and that’s excellent enough —
Wadsworth: “I’m merely a humble butler.”
Colonel Mustard: “What exactly do you do?”
Wadsworth: “I buttle, sir.”
— but later on, when everything gets full on zany, Wadsworth runs around the house, reenacting pretty much every scene in the film thus far to explain whodunnit, and it’s hysterical. I really like all the other actors, particularly Lesley Ann Warren, Madeline Kahn, and Eileen Brennan, but this is clearly Tim Curry’s movie. His impression of Mrs. Peacock screaming will make me smile every time I think of it.
3. While we’re on acting, though, I should mention that the role of Miss Scarlet was not originally awarded to Lesley Ann Warren. Instead, this woman was supposed to play her:
That’s right, Carrie Fisher. Princess Leia was supposed to play Miss Scarlet and would have, if she hadn’t ended up in rehab a few days before shooting. Now, I like Carrie Fisher, but it’s hard for me to picture her as Miss Scarlet because I like Lesley Ann Warren so much here. I like scheming, sexy, business-oriented women, and Warren nails that for me in Clue. Not every strong female character has to be a badass superhero in leather. I am perfectly content with funny cutthroats in pretty dresses.
3. Both Mrs. Peacock and Mrs. White have notable speeches throughout the movie. Mrs. Peacock’s is early on at the dinner table, and whenever Mek and I watch this film, she recites this rapid-paced monologue. I, on the other hand, deliver Mrs. White’s little speech about flames. (Madeline Kahn improvised that whole thing, by the way.)
I did consider videotaping a performance for y’all for approximately six seconds and then came to my senses. Sorry. My sensibility doesn’t have much of a lag time. Anyway, I can hardly compete with Madeline Kahn.
4. There are a few inconsistencies or continuity problems with Clue, most of which I ignore because, seriously, I can’t hear bad things about this film, and anything that doesn’t make sense just becomes a part of the fun. Still, there is one part of the movie where they totally show a character in two different places at the same time, and that’s a bit problematic. Like I said, though, the occasional bit of bad editing is just part of my movie experience now. It’s fun to laugh at.
5. A few of my favorite scenes in the movie:
A: When everyone runs into each other on the staircase.
B: Wadsworth reenacting the whole movie. (Pretty much the last thirty minutes, really.)
C: The I-will-cut-off-your-testicles-and-then-also-your-head look Mrs. White gives to Colonel Mustard when he says, “Too late.”
6. Also, about six thousand quotes:
Mrs White: “Maybe he wasn’t dead!”
Professor Plum: “He was!”
Mrs. White: “We should have made sure.”
Mrs. Peacock: “How, by cutting his head off, I suppose.”
Mrs White: “That wasn’t called for.”
Colonel Mustard: “How did you know that?”
Wadsworth: “Can you keep a secret?”
Colonel Mustard: “Yes.”
Wadsworth: “So can I.”
Mr. Green: “Well, he couldn’t have been dead.”
Professor Plum: “He was! At least, I thought he was, but what difference does that make now?”
Miss Scarlet: “It makes quite a difference to him.”
Religious Pamphlet Guy: “But your souls are in danger!”
Mrs. Peacock: “Our lives are in danger, you beatnik.”
Wadsworth: “Why would anyone want to kill him twice?”
Miss Scarlet: “It seems so unnecessary.”
Colonel Mustard: “It’s what we call ‘overkill’.”
Professor Plum: “It’s what we call ‘psychotic’.”
Professor Plum: “What are you afraid of, a fate worse than death?”
Mrs. Peacock: “No, just death, isn’t that enough?”
Miss Scarlet: “Why would he want to kill you in public?”
Wadsworth: “I think she meant he threatened, in public, to kill her.” (rolls eyes)
Miss Scarlet: “Why has the car stopped?”
Professor Plum: “It’s frightened.”
Mrs. Peacock: “Everything all right?”
Colonel Mustard: “Yep, two corpses, everything’s fine.”
7. Finally, before spoilers, I should mention something I never caught after 247 times of watching this movie because, apparently, I’m just not that clever. While eating dinner, Professor Plum says that he works for a branch of the World Health Organization, which is a branch of the United Nations Organizations. And what does this mean, people who love acronyms?
Oh, Clue, you witty bastards.
First, a few more favorite quotes that are a bit more spoiler-y.
Wadsworth: “I suggest we take the cook’s body into the kitchen.”
Colonel Mustard (exasperated): “Why?”
Wadsworth: “I’m the butler. I like to keep the kitchen tidy.”
Wadsworth: “Three murders?”
Mr. Green: “Six altogether.”
Wadsworth: “This is getting serious.”
Also, I always quite enjoy the shooting of the singing telegram girl.
Funny thing about that: I cut my hair last week, and one of the nurses I work with swears I look like Jane Wiedlin from The Go-Go’s. (I’m not a dead ringer or anything, but I can at least see what she’s talking about, unlike half the other celebrities I’ve been compared to over the years.) Until approximately seven seconds ago, I never knew that Jane Wiedlin played the Singing Telegram Girl in Clue. Seriously, I love weird shit like this.
Anyway, I’m not doing a recap of this movie or anything. (For one, I’m lazy. For another, I’m okay with people reading my reviews of shitty movies so they don’t have to watch the movies themselves — and here I thought there was no altruism in my soul, ha! I’m a wonderful person; I’m a saint; I’m providing a public service here — but this is not a shitty movie, so you have to watch it on your own.) I really only created a spoiler section so I could talk about the ending . . . or, more accurately, the movie’s three endings.
If you have not seen Clue and are reading this . . . well, first off, shame on you. Second, the movie has three alternate endings. They go like this:
A. Miss Scarlet is the bad guy, and Yvette is her (now dead) accomplice. Wadsworth is a secret cop.
B. Mrs. Peacock is the bad guy. Wadsworth is a secret cop.
C. Everyone is the bad guy except Mr. Green. But Wadsworth is especially the Bad Guy because he’s not actually a butler or a secret cop but the real Mr. Boddy, who’s been blackmailing everyone.
Apparently, when people went to see Clue in theater, they would see one of the random different endings. So Betty could have gone to Showing A and Julie could have gone to Showing B, and when they went to eat pie afterwards and talk about it, Julie would be all like, What do you mean, Mrs. Peacock did it? How many shrooms did you take before you went to the movie? It was Miss Scarlet, remember?
And this, well, this is just all kinds of awesome. I kind of love this movie for fucking with the audience. You can randomize the endings on the DVD as well and see which ending you come up with . . . but I actually can’t do that, myself, because I didn’t see this movie in theater; I saw it on VHS. And on VHS, the endings just came one after the other with little title cards that say things like “But here’s what really happened.” So it’s really just not Clue for me if the movie doesn’t stop, rewind, and start all over again a couple of times. Like an early version of Run Lola Run.
The only thing that makes me a little sad about Clue is that I kind of want Wadsworth to get away with it, probably because I care a lot more about Tim Curry than I do about Michael McKean.
Sadly, in the third ending, Michael McKean — that is, Mr. Green — is the secret cop, and he shoots Wadsworth dead. (He also reveals he is neither gay nor near-sighted because we all know that dashing secret agents can’t like men or wear glasses. This is a bit unfortunate and probably the only thing I would change about this movie if I could, but I can’t, so I just choose to ignore it.)
According to IMDb, there actually was a fourth ending scripted where Wadsworth poisoned all the guests at dinner and then tried to escape in a squad car and was randomly eaten by a Doberman or something, but apparently everyone decided it would be better if this ending did not exist on film. I kind of have to agree . . . but the ludicrous nature of it kind of makes me wish it was at least a deleted scene or something.
And . . . well, I guess that’s about it. It’s funny how much easier it is to go on and on about the movies that you despised instead of the ones you adored.
Tim Curry. Obviously.
Don’t accept dinner invitations from people you’ve never met, particularly when they live out in the middle of nowhere in some creepy house on a hill.
Oh, and if you have a gun while a mysterious person is killing people left and right? You don’t just throw that gun in the middle of the floor and leave it behind.
Yvette, you totally deserved to die.