This is a blog which primarily gives some attention to movies that I find were overlooked (for whatever reason) or are simply underrated. I also comment on other, mainly movie-related issues as well. I welcome any suggestions for films to be added to this distinguished list.

One word of warning: The films listed below contain spoilers, so caution during reading is required.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Clue turns 30!


Thirty years ago this month, Clue, a film based on the popular Parker Brothers game, opened in cinemas. The movie didn't make much of an impact initially (for reasons I will get to shortly), but, as the home video market was booming by the mid-1980's, got an audience even bigger than I'm sure the film's participants could have imagined once it made it on VHS.
This article pretty much sums up why the movie is now regarding an a comedy classic, so I will attempt to add my two cents in for its birthday.
The game itself was introduced to the public in 1949 and, along with Monopoly, is probably Parker Brothers' most successful product. For the few who don't know how to play it (and why not?), the object of the game is to find out which of the six suspects (one of which you play) murdered Mr. Boddy, along with where in his mansion and with which murder weapon.
By the 1980's, John Landis thought a movie version of the game would be a good idea. He co-wrote the screenplay with Jonathan Lynn, and initially planned to direct it, but became too wrapped up in his movie Spies Like Us, and subsequently relinquished the director's chair to Lynn.
The movie takes place in 1954 New England. Like an Agatha Christie novel, the story begins with assorted people meeting at a mansion, where they are greeting by a man named Wadsworth (Tim Curry), who identifies himself as the butler. He informs his six guests-Col. Mustard (Martin Mull), Prof. Plum (Christopher Lloyd), Miss Scarlet (Lesley Ann Warren), Mrs. Peacock (Eileen Brennan), Mr. Green (Michael McKean) and Mrs. White (Madeline Khan)-to not reveal their true names and that their host Mr. Boddy (Lee Ving) is en route.
However, when the host arrives, it is revealed that it was Wadsworth who arranged the gathering in order to inform his guests that Boddy is blackmailing them.
When he is threatened with police action, Boddy gives the six weapons-a candlestick, a wrench, a lead pipe, a rope, a knife and a revolver-to the six guests (gift-wrapped, of course) and says that their reputations will not be ruined if one of them kills Wadsworth. However, Boddy is the one that is murdered. As Wadsworth and the guests attempt to solve the mystery before the police arrive, others soon fall victim to foul play, including the house's cook, Mrs. Ho (Kellye Nakahara) and the maid, Yvette (Colleen Camp).
It is later revealed that all the victims had a link to at least one of the six guests and that Wadsworth requested their appearance to help in their case against Boddy.
The film's climax is probably the reason why the movie didn't do well when it was initially in theaters. This is because there are not one, but three climaxes. One of them states that Miss Scarlet is the murderer, the second reveals Mrs. Peacock as the perpetrator and the third reveals that all the guests are responsible for at least one murder and that Wadsworth is actually Mr. Boddy.
When the movie was in theaters, only one of these endings was played. The filmmakers' idea behind this tactic was to encourage multiple viewings and have a different ending each time, much like playing the game itself. But this tactic ended up confusing most people, including film critics, as they felt each ending, viewed alone, resulted in confusion.
Happily, the film would contain all three endings once it came to home video (a fourth ending was written but not filmed although it can be found in the movie's novelization). This allowed the movie's fan base (which includes yours truly) to grow.
The film's cast could not be better as they all proved they could do comedy prior to this movie. Lynn would go on to direct the equally classic comedy My Cousin Vinny (1992). The scene-stealer is Curry, who is every bit as theatrical here as he was in The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975).
Like Rocky Horror, Clue is now shown in theaters across the country with audience members reenacting the movie as it plays. But I find Clue the more enjoyable of the two as it has more laughs and, despite a plot hole or two, a tighter script.
Clue's enormous cult following may have also indirectly led to later movies-based-on-games, such as Super Mario Bros. (1993) and Battleship(2012), neither of which are fondly remembered now.
One could also say that the multiple endings have since led to alternate endings from other movies being available on DVD.
Perhaps the movie's greatest legacy, though, is that it inspires people to want to play the board game of the same name, and understand why a movie could be made of it.

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