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Clue is a 1985 comedy film based on the board game of the same name. The film is a murder mystery set in a Gothic Revival mansion, and is styled after Murder by Death (which starred 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 and Madeline Kahn.

In keeping with the nature of the board game, in theatrical release the movie was shown with one of three possible endings, with different theatres receiving each ending. (In the film's home video release, all three endings were included.) The film did poorly at the box office and received mixed reviews, ultimately grossing $14.6 million domestically.

Plot

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, arrives. After dinner, Wadsworth reveals the true nature of the party: all of the guests are being blackmailed to hide their secrets. Mrs. White (Madeline Kahn) was drawn in to avoid a scandal regarding the mysterious death of her nuclear physicist husband. Professor Plum (Christopher Lloyd), a psychiatrist, has committed adultery with his female patients. Mrs. Peacock (Eileen Brennan), a senator's wife, has accepted bribes to deliver her husband's vote. Miss Scarlet (Lesley Ann Warren) operates an illegal bordello. Colonel Mustard (Martin Mull) was a war profiteer who made his money from selling stolen radio components on the black market. Mr. Green (Michael McKean) is homosexual, a secret that would cost him his job with the State Departmentmarker if it were widely known. Wadsworth reveals he has also been blackmailed to keep secret that his wife had socialist friends. 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.

Wadsworth (Tim Curry) and the other guests answer the door after discovering Mr. Boddy has died
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 while he continues to blackmail them. Mr. Boddy turns out the lights in the room, creating a moment of chaos, and when they are brought back up, Mr. Boddy is dead. The guests all quickly deny killing him. 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 also murdered, along with three others that visit the house during their investigation: a stranded motorist (Jeffrey Kramer), a police officer (Bill Henderson) investigating an abandoned car, and a singing telegram girl (Jane Wiedlin).

Wadsworth comes to the conclusion that he knows who the murderer is, and runs through a frantic 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 release 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 provides the option of a random single ending.

Ending A: Miss Scarlett 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 FBImarker agent and arrests Miss Scarlett as police secure the house.
Ending B: 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.
Ending C: 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, Ms. Scarlett killed the cop, Mrs. White killed Yvette, and the singing telegram girl was shot and killed by Wadsworth. It is revealed that Wadsworth is really 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."


Fourth ending

A fourth scenario was scripted and filmed, but was very different from the comedic nature of the main plot and has never been released. It survives only in the original novelization of the film, with a single photograph.

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 Hessman), 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 German Shepherd from the backseat.

Production

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.

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, Californiamarker. 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.

Reception

Clue was released on December 13, 1985 and ultimately grossed $14.6 million domestically. The film was received with mostly Positive 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 has a 74% "fresh" rating on the film aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes.

Release

The film was released theatrically on December 13, 1985. In 1986, it was released on VHS in Canadamarker and the U.S. In other countries, it was released on VHS on February 11, 1991. The DVD was released in June 2000.

Remake

In February 2009, Universal Studios announced that a remake of the film was in the works. It will be directed by Gore Verbinski, and is set for release in 2011.

Notes

  1. IMDB
  2. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1385861/


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