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Clue is a great classic that falls under the category of cult. It’s not hugely popular, it’s a little cheesy, and those who do like it, love it. Not many board games can be turned into films. They just aren’t built for it. A few other attempts have been made, but they fell flat. Clue is the exception. It takes the basic concept of a murder mystery and turns it into a great story. Granted, murder mysteries are a whole genre of film that are quite successful. Though that may be true, none of them do it quite like Clue.
Let’s start with the premise. For those of you who have never played the game, here’s how it goes. You are one of the guests at a party. Someone has been murdered. The point of the game is to figure out who killed them, where they were killed, and with what weapon. Everyone has various cards representing guests, rooms in the house, and weapons. One of each is selected at random and placed into an envelope. This is the who, where and with what. You move around the board to different rooms and make a guess. If another player has a card of something you guessed, they secretly show it to you and the game continues. You have a check list of guests, rooms and weapons. As you find out what cards aren’t in the envelope, you check them off to narrow down your answer. Whoever comes up with the correct guess is the winner.
On the whole, this isn’t an easy premise to translate directly to screen. Part of what makes it so good is how it manages to incorporate various elements of the game into the movie. All of the guests arrive because they’ve received letters telling them to do so. Once they’ve had dinner, it’s revealed that they’re all being blackmailed by the same person. The point of this evening is to confront him and turn him over to the police. Things go wrong when people start dying. Afraid for their lives and suspicious of one another, the guests try to figure out who the killer is. They are all trapped together because the police are on their way, and they are all suspects.
The characters really are extremely entertaining. They are each quirky and a bit off, so watching them interact throughout the film is quite funny. First we have the butler, the man who arranged this evening and likes to keep the house tidy. Then we have the various guests, all using aliases to protect their secrets. Colonel Mustard, a military man who has no trouble making himself look stupid. Mrs. White, a widow with a dark past when it comes to her husbands. Miss Scarlet, a flirtatious Madam who runs a service for lonely men. Mr. Green, an easily flustered and frightened man. Professor Plum, a doctor who’s no longer allowed to practice. Finally, we have Mrs. Peacock, a woman prone to overreaction and fainting spells.
The greatest thing about this film has to be the endings. There are three possible endings to the story, and all are completely plausible. When it was first released in theatres, a theatre was only given one ending. On the DVD, you can choose either to watch all three back to back, or have one selected at random. The angles and shots of various scenes are extremely clever and creative. They allow you to seee what’s happening, while leaving enough ambiguity that any of the characters could be sneaking away or simply off screen.
This film is crazy, hilarious, confusing, and entertaining. Truly a gem of a film that more people need to watch.