Sunday, December 14, 2014

Clue (1985)

Note:  This review was originally posted to my Epinions account.

Being born in 1976, there were a lot of movies that I was aware of.  Some were movies that were talked about, but I was too young to see.  (The Godfather was released a few years before I was born, but I had to wait to be able to see it.)  Others, I saw, but didn’t remember that well.  Clue was one such movie.  The movie is based on the board game of the same name.  I think most of what I remember of the movie came from having played the game.

For those that have never played the board game, the basic idea is to figure out which of several characters committed a murder.  You also have to figure out which of several weapons were used and which of several rooms the murder took place in.  It was one of those games that I never cared for, mostly because I could never really get the hang of it.

The movie borrows the characters, weapons and rooms.   It’s set in 1954.  We start with a butler named Wadsworth, who wasn’t in the game but is used for the sake of the story.  He’s invited several people to the house where he works, but for secrecy, he’s decided to give each person a pseudonym from the game.  (Colonel Mustard, Professor Plum, etc.)  He then reveals that Mr. Boddy has been blackmailing each of them for various reasons.  (Colonel Mustard was a war profiteer.)  An assortment of weapons (gun, lead pipe, etc.) are provided.  When the lights go out, several expected sounds (a gunshot, a thud, etc.) are heard.  The lights come back on and we have a dead Boddy.

To add to the suspense, several other murders take place.  (A police officer, a distressed motorist and a singing telegram show up, putting them in mortal danger.)   It’s up to the remaining people to figure out who did what to whom with what and where.  Not only do the main characters know each other, but the three uninvited guests are not random.

The game carries over well to a movie.  This is probably because the game was one of mystery.  All you’re really doing is taking the names, weapons and locations provided and working them into a story, which could easily have been written as a independent concept and modified slightly to fit the details of the board game.  There’s also a lot of comedy, which is a bit unusual for a murder mystery.

There are a few adultish aspects to the movie.  Many of the secrets are somewhat adult in nature, although nothing explicit is mentioned.  (Miss Scarlet tends to the desires of men.  Mr. Green is gay, which was probably more of a big deal for someone in a position of power in the 1950s than today.)  Also, there’s a maid that grownups will probably react differently to than children.  Again, there’s nothing explicit, but it is worth mentioning.  We’re talking PG-13 at worst.

One thing that I wondered about was the multiple endings.  Those that have seen it on TV or on home media know that there are three endings, each with a different set of murderers.  The movie, with all three endings, runs about an hour and a half.  (IMDb has it listed at 94 minutes.)  From what I’ve read and heard, the movie was released in theaters with each ending separately.  (Theaters had the endings marked as Ending A, Ending B or Ending C.)  This would have made the movie much shorter.  I realize that there’s no law saying that a movie has to be of at least a certain length, but the endings take up about half of the movie.  I was thinking that the movie would have had to have been something like 60 minutes if you took out two endings.

I was able to get the movie streaming through Netflix.  The only option is to watch all three endings, although you may have the option to play the endings individually if you get the DVD.  It looks like the option is available on DVD, but I’m not sure if this is something only available on certain versions.  I’d say watch it streaming or, if you get the DVD, watch the combined version.  I don’t know if you’re going to want to sit through three iterations of the movie just watch the endings separately. 

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