#TBT Reviews: Clue (1985)

Sorry to break from tradition by picking films easily accessible via Netflix, but I was able to see this cult comedy classic (ooh, alliteration) on the big screen last night. A movie theater near me partners with a local brewery to bring classic films paired with their own beers on a weekly basis for a ten-week period. It’s a real fun time.

I had seen some of Clue once before. My girlfriend was watching it while I was editing my demo reel for my capstone class. I remembered thinking that the few scenes I paid moderate attention to were pretty funny, but I did not catch much of it.

I was incredibly excited to finally be able to see the full thing, but I was a little distressed to find that Clue was received very poorly on initial release. Was I wrong about those few minutes I saw? Have I been wrong in the general impression of this film the whole time?

Short answer: No.

The basic premise begins with six guests using pseudonyms all arriving at a secluded mansion under mysterious circumstances. They’ve all received letters with brief and anonymous instructions, and none of them are fully aware of why they are present. The butler, Wadsworth, has also been instructed to be here for the upcoming events.

A seventh guest shows up, referring to himself as Mr. Boddy, and things begin to move. Wadsworth reveals that the six guests share one thing in common; they are all being blackmailed by Mr. Boddy. Tensions flare and tempers fly as they try to come to some sort of conclusion about the set-up. Wadsworth explains that he brought everyone here in order to gather the evidence he needed to send Mr. Boddy away, and has called the cops. Boddy gives the six guests possible murder weapons, claiming that if one of them were to kill Wadsworth, they’d all get away free.

Suddenly, the lights go out and we hear a gunshot and yelling. The lights come back up and Mr. Boddy is dead on the ground. The guests all instantly accuse each other, and the rest of the film follows them as they try to solve the mystery while also avoiding being killed.

This. Cast. Is. Incredible.

There isn’t a weak link here. Eileen Brennan, Tim Curry, Madeline Kahn, Christopher Lloyd, Michael McKean, Martin Mull, Lesley Ann Warren. Every single one of them is wonderful. Every single one of them has several great moments throughout the film, which is endlessly quotable. It isn’t quotable in the obvious way that many movies are where everyone understands the reference, but you could say “I was in the hallway, I know because I was there” and you would get a VERY audible laugh out of me. I also may have been the loudest laugh in the theater for that line and I have no shame.

Clue is also somewhat notorious for having multiple endings. Initially, they were seen at random, but now it’s most often played with the three different endings played in a row. There was a fourth ending that was shot but ultimately cut, but I think three ends up being the perfect number to add just a little bit more silliness and physical comedy to the end of the film.

The style of humor that Clue goes for is definitely not for everyone, but it absolutely would go on my list of great comedy films that I could throw on for friends as we all have a beer and laugh.

It’s a great comedy film and you deserve to see it. Watch it with a friend too. It makes the laughs even bigger.

Nick Potter

Co-founder of The Filmsmiths. Degree in Broadcast & Cinematic Arts with a minor in Cinema Studies from Central Michigan University. Pretty much the barbecue sauce of people but I'm doing my best.

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