Clue is one of those movies that you’ve either never heard of or you can quote at the drop of a hat. It features an ensemble cast of some of the best comedic character actors in film history and is a fairly well crafted murder mystery. While the game it’s based on has some semblance of a plot, they create distinct characters out what was just six colored pegs, twists and turns that can be solved in three separate endings, throw in some cold war paranoia for good measure, and didn’t even have to resort to sticking aliens In there like some other movies based on a board game.
Six strangers are invited to a mysterious mansion and quickly learn they all share one thing in common, they have been blackmailed by the same man for various transgressions. The blackmailer hands out weapons (the familiar pieces from the game) and challenges them to kill his loyal butler Wadsworth (Tim Curry) who gathered them together and is also a victim of his abuse of power. He promises that with Wadsworth dead, they can all go their separate ways, but he is the one that ends up shot. The guests all deny they were the shooter and as the night goes on, the mansion’s staff and random passerbys begin dropping like flies, with no clear killer. Even though they can’t completely trust each other, the group bands together to try to keep what’s going on a secret. When a cop stops by, questioning an abandoned car close to the property, the guests animate the dead bodies to avoid suspicion. In the end, Wadsworth solves the mystery in three separate endings, which were used as a box office draw, with audiences having no clue which finale they would get. All three are included on the home video versions, but really, the final one not only has some of the film’s best lines, it makes the most sense as well, making it the true ending. There was a fourth ending where Wadsworth poisons the group and is killed by guard dogs but it was cut due to its dark tone.
The cast is perfection. Tim Curry is born to buttle as Wadsworth with Christopher Lloyd as the lecherous Professor Plum, Michael McKean as the nervous Mr. Green, Martin Mull as the military minded Colonel Mustard, Lesley Ann Warren as the sexy Miss Scarlett, Eileen Brennan as the hysterical Mrs. Peacock, and Madeline Kahn as Mrs. White – the cold widow with the hot temper. It’s an impressive line-up but Kahn steals the show. I’ve seen people fight over who gets to deliver her perfect melt down which was ad libbed by Kahn. She really is one of the most underrated comediennes of all-time and was rarely given material that lived up to her greatness.
This film is a little known treasure. It was a big part of my childhood but I’d encourage anyone who’s unfamiliar with it to check it out. While it has a somewhat slow beginning, by the end, it’s going a mile a minute. It has some of my favorite lines ever which I still quote whenever I’m given an opportunity.