Why We Love……Clue (1985)
On the simple premise alone, this shouldn’t work: a movie about a board game? But this is 1985, when studios hadn’t realized how to make lots of money on a terrible movie based solely on marketing a familiar franchise – sure enough, Clue opened to mixed reviews and only broke even in the cash department. Instead, they made this movie the old-fashioned way: they hired a Brit who’d been writing for a popular comedy show to write and direct the film (Jonathan Lynn, Yes Minister), they found inspiration in the 1976 film Murder By Death, then a beautiful Gothic mansion set was constructed (later sold to Dynasty to use as the Carlton hotel), and finally they hired an amazing powerhouse cast of comedic talent to play all the colorfully named characters. The end result is a master class in slapstick, dry delivery, and proper punning. In other words, our beloved movie, Clue.
The plot is a murder mystery – the details are important, but really only for the sake of jokes, which is what makes Clue infinitely quotable to those of us who love the film. So when we talk about Clue, we’re really talking about our favorite lines.
Redlami is partial to Col. Mustard.
Martin Mull’s droll sense of humor is used to great effect as part of this amazing cast. One of my favorite lines in the film is this exchange between Colonel Mustard (Mull) and Wadsworth (Tim Curry).
Mustard: Are you trying to make me look stupid in front of the other guests?
Wadsworth: You don’t need any help from me, sir.
Mustard: That’s right!
Tim Curry is a solid center who slyly lets all the characters reveal themselves after some light nudging, and whenever I’m trying to mentally count something in my head, I always hear Wadsworth saying “one plus two plus one plus one plus….”
The more I’ve watched the film, the more I’ve also grown to love and appreciate Lesley Ann Warren as Miss Scarlett.
Everett knows who to quote in the right company:
Who hasn’t reenacted Madeline Kahn’s “flames. . . on the sides of my face . . . heaving, flaming. . .”? How else was I going to learn inflagranti delicto as a phrase when I was a teenager? I’ve held on to so many lines from that movie, and it would be embarrassing to blurt them out over dinner—who wants to hear about monkey’s brains while eating, anyway—except that everyone else knows and adores those lines as well.
Eileen Brennan is the one of Snarky’s Machine’s favorites.
Eileen Brennan stole the show as Mrs. Peacock with her delightfully befuddled performance. Mrs. Peacock gets some of the best lines, particularly my favorites – “Get your hands off me, I’m a Senator’s wife!” and “But look what happened to the cook!” Clue is an underrated comedic masterpiece, which makes great use of its deep roster of comedic talent. Of course, despite having seen the film eleventy billion times I’m still not sure if any of the “endings” are at all based in logic.
Ah yes, the endings. When the movie was released in theaters, the gimmick was that there was 3 different endings and you didn’t know which one you would be getting. I’m sure they were hoping for repeat customers, but most people I knew were suspicious of the content that was hidden from them – what if another ending is better? What am I missing out on? They solved this problem when it came out on VHS (that’s basically what DVDs used to be called, kids) by putting all three endings together, the first two as possibilities, but the third is offered as the final solution.
I wouldn’t normally be concerned with spoilers for a 1985 movie, but there is a certain pleasure in the surprise of one scene that was uniformly beloved by everyone who sent in their favorite characters, scenes, and lines from the movie. As Everett said, “it made me guffaw so hard I nearly lost consciousness. I had to pause our top-loading VCR and catch it again.” I initially wasn’t going to include it because I didn’t want to ruin the experience for people who hadn’t yet watched this comedy treasure, so if you haven’t seen the movie DON’T WATCH THIS. Trust me, it’ll be even funnier in context. In fact, it might not even be funny out of context. But for those of us who want to relive the joy, here we go!
Now it’s your turn: what are YOUR favorite lines or scenes from the movie? There are lots of posted clips on youtube etc., so feel free to post them in the comments.
Endnote: There is currently a remake of Clue in development, directed by Gore Verbinski and slated for a 2013 release, but we don’t like to talk about that around here.