Gwenesday Movie Night: Clue (1985)

A mysterious murder on a stormy night. But who did it? Where? With what?

Gwen Pemberton // Arts & Culture Editor
Eva Staub // Illustrator


A murder-mystery based on the Parker Brother’s blockbuster board game. I must admit that I first dismissed Clue as another studio cash grab using existing IP in order to maximize profits on an otherwise mediocre plot. How wrong I was. Despite a few dated jokes, Clue is a romp of a film, with jokes flying so fast you might miss them. Clever Monty Python-esque comedy combined with a dose of slapstick and self awareness elevates what could be a cookie-cutter whodunnit to a spooky season must-see.

A group of strangers all receive a mysterious invitation to dinner at a secluded mansion. Miss Scarlet, Professor Plum, Mr. Green, Mrs. Peacock, Colonel Mustard and Mrs. White have never met, but they all have one thing in common: they are being blackmailed. When their elusive host, Mr. Boddy, reveals himself as the blackmailer, and that he has called the police in order to expose all in attendance, mayhem ensues. Mr. Boddy’s body is discovered soon after these revelations and the mystery deepens. The guests must now discover which of them is the murderer before the police arrive.

Despite its macabre subject matter, Clue is uproariously funny. The audience quickly learns what kind of movie they are in for with a running joke about dog poop. Tim Curry as Wadsworth the butler delivers his signature over-the-top physicality and droll delivery. Lesley Ann Warren is also excellent as Miss Scarlet, acting as somewhat of an audience surrogate, willing to comment on the comedy and absurdity of the situation. Clue manages to balance big and brash comedy with quieter moments of wit that you may not catch upon first viewing.

The speed at which the plot progresses makes it very easy to watch. Occasionally things are flying at the screen so quickly that it can sometimes feel like one is barely able to keep up. However, the absurd tone does lend a bit of balance, and I found myself accepting these moments of confusion as another element of humour.

The house, like the board game, is a large part of the story. It feels like a character in itself, revealing secret passageways and hidden clues, among other more sinister secrets. Set in the mid-50s, the film delivers on its haunted house aspect with a vintage feel and very deliberate instances of colour. The costumes also serve to accentuate the already exaggerated characters, each with their own distinct style and personality.

It is impressive that all of the characters are so distinct, as the film relies heavily on their interplay. The contained mystery lends itself to snappy exchanges and constantly changing character dynamics. Accident prone Mr. Green, hysterical Mrs. Peacock and canny Miss Scarlet stand out from the pack.

As things continue to go awry at the dinner party from hell the mayhem amps up and up and up, building to a crescendo where all is revealed. Who is the murderer? How did they kill Mr. Boddy? What weapon did they use? How are all of these people connected? The web untangles, but not the way one might expect. Clue’s ending is unlike any I have ever seen in a mystery, and, if nothing else, I implore viewers to stay tuned all the way to the credits.

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