"The book is a film that takes place in the mind of the reader." ~ Paulo Coelho

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Movie Review: Clue (1985)

Hello, and thanks for coming!

In the past I have written movie reviews for The Pirates of the Caribbean which is based on an amusement park ride, but this is the first time that I have reviewed something that is based on a board game! The game first came out in 1949 and this movie came out 36 years later. How do the two compare? Letʼs find out!

My guarantee: On ALL of my reviews there are NO spoilers unless I give you warning. My review of this is spoiler free!

Movie Review: Clue (1985):

Based on: the board game created by Anthony E. Pratt.
Six guests arrive at a mansion because they got a letter telling them to be there and are instructed to call themselves by an assigned name when they arrive. No one is sure why they are there until the butler Wadsworth reveals that they all have something in common: they are being blackmailed. Wadsworth lays out a plan on coming clean so the blackmailer can be arrested. Things go awry when the lights go off and someone is killed. Now there is a murderer among them and they have to find out who it is. Who killed Mr. Boddy and more importantly, who will be next?
And guess what, there are several answers because there are three different endings!
Genre: Mystery, Crime, Thriller, Comedy.
Length: approx. 96 minutes.
Script: 7, a name in vain is used several times.
ʻ“Are you trying to make me look stupid in front of the other guests?”
“You don't need any help from me, sir.”
“That's right!”ʼ
Crew: Directed by: Jonathan Lynn.
Written by: Jonathan Lynn & John Landis.
Eileen Brennan as Mrs. Peacock.
Tim Curry as Wadsworth.
Madeline Kahn as Mrs. White.
Christopher Lloyd as Professor Plum.
Michael McKean as Mr. Green.
Martin Mull as Colonel Mustard.
Lesley Ann Warren as Miss Scarlet.
Lee Ving as Mr. Boddy.
Colleen Camp as Yvette.
Kellye Nakahara as The Cook.
Bill Henderson as The Cop.
Jane Wiedlin as The Singing Telegram Girl.
Jeffrey Kramer as The Motorist.
Will Nye as Cop #1.
Rick Goldman as Cop #2.
Don Camp as Cop #3.
Costumes: 5, the costumes are mostly all fitting for the 1950ʼs (which is when this is set), but there are two outfits that are either low, short, or tight, and they wouldnʼt be that bad, but the characters are constantly pointing them out or exaggerating them.
Costumes by: Michael Kaplan.
Cinematography: 9, this is a neat aspect! I mean, it is not 100% something original that Iʼve never seen before, but the darker atmosphere is so fitting.
Cinematography by: Victor J. Kemper.
ʻ“Why has the car stopped?”
“It's frightened.”ʼ
Music: 8, it very effectively gets you into the mystery mood right away. Each time that we have watched this our first comment is, “Nice score!”
Music by: John Morris.
Notes: I mentioned it above, but my favorite thing about this movie is that THERE ARE THREE DIFFERENT ENDINGS. So cool!
Quotability: 9, ah yes. My sisters and I quote this movie so often. One part especially, there isnʼt much to put here because it is mostly a facial expression and repeating the same thing over and over again, but it is hilarious! “Flames...flames...”
Hey, look, I found a gif!
Content: 4, there is smoking, murder, killing, suicide mentioned, so much suggestive stuff along with open discussion about it, lots of touching each other in bad places, and body parts mentioned.
Originality: 10, a murder mystery with three endings? Iʼm going to keep saying this throughout this review just because I think it is so cool. Why donʼt more movies do this? 
Good For: Mystery fans, anyone who has played the board game, fans of the actors. 
Age Range: Even though I think it is only PG, I would say that it is at least PG-13. Just because of all of the comments that are filled with innuendo.
Overall Score: 7. I take the mean total of all of the numbers, and having such an original storyline really bumped it up!
Worth watching?: Oh yes! All of the actors had hilarious parts and, everybody say it with me, three different endings! My family and I watched a different ending each time we saw it, and I had no idea about endings #1 and #3, but on the last one that we watched (#2) I focused so much and guessed it! I was so proud of myself.
Will I watch again?: Iʼve seen all of the endings now, but I can still see this becoming a yearly thing that my family watches. Clue is one of my favorite board games, and I love that they made it into a movie!

What is “breening”? It is a term coined in the magazine Variety about the head of the Hays Motion Picture Production Code (in place between 1934-1968), Joseph I. Breen (he worked there between 1934-54). Certain things were or were not allowed in the Code. But, it was unlike just censoring things because self-regulators helped filmmakers during the production of films to come up with alternatives when there was a problem with anything that didnʼt fit in the Code.

What Iʼll be doing today is talking about what this movie would look like if it had been made in Code years when Mr. Breen was in charge.

I mean no offense to anyone who likes this movie! If you disagree with my suggestions and you like the movie how it was made, then lucky you! That is the final product that was released into the world! I really like the movie myself and have seen it three times and enjoyed it all three. I look forward to many rewatches in years to come! I just thought that this would be a fun challenge for me and because I did the murder mystery Gosford Park (2001) (which is one of my favorite posts that Iʼve written) for PEPS's last Great Breening Blogathon, I thought that I would carry on the tradition and since I had just watched this for PEPSʼs #AMonthWithoutTheCode2020,  it is what came into my head first.

This is a film that is actually impossible to “breen” as it is a “black comedy”, meaning a comedy that makes fun of murder or other dark subjects. There could be murder, mysteries, or difficult topics in a Code film, but they always had to be shown as something that was serious.

That being so, I decided to change anything that I could (without taking away from the story) to see how close we can get to a Code film.

Now, Iʼm going to give away a lot of details from the movie, but I will NOT tell you “who done it”. All of my changes will apply to the characters as a whole and the ending will not change that. I am still making you see the movie if you want to see the three endings for yourself!
Final disclaimer:
I am not an expert on the Motion Picture Production Code! Iʼve never read the whole thing, and my only knowledge of it comes from reading Tiffany and Rebekahʼs posts. This is just my second time, but they do it a lot, so for a full list of all of their “breened” films, check out HERE. Plus, if you want more information, about the Code itself, go HERE.

The writers of PEPS, the Brannans, have said that there are two kinds of problems when trying to “breen” a film: surface ones and core ones. Surface problems are bad language, poor costumes, and the like. It doesnʼt affect the plot and can easily be changed. Core problems are not gotten rid of so easily, as the deal with main parts of the story. But, instead of just saying, “You have to fix it!” the self-regulators would have discussions with the filmmakers about other possibilities. This is where “breening” a film by typing it is hard, as there is none of that good conversation about all of the possibilities. Iʼll do my best, though!

Surface problems in Clue (1985):
There are so many hilarious parts about this movie, what with clever lines, funny confusion, and expressions. But there are a few that are just distasteful and clog up all the good bits. My sister hates it when I use the term “suggestive”, but Iʼm going to be using it a lot here, sorry!

To be changed: 
Costumes and the constant staring at Yvette and other ladies. As I said in my Costumes part of my review, they are short, low and tight. Those two costumes are the ones belonging to Yvette and Miss Scarlet. A big part of the humor is making fun of this with suggestive staring and touching of body parts. This just isnʼt funny to me and I role my eyes in annoyance every time it happens. The costumes would be more covering and all of that would be taken out.
So many open and suggestive comments are present in this movie. The script is so good without it, I would just say that they could be removed! There is a mention of “sleeping with my wife”. Itʼs kind of a famous line, but in Code years it wouldʼve been changed to “be with my wife”.

A few times a name in vain is used and a different expression could be put in.

Part of the Code was that when a character was killed it was never shown on screen. Now, itʼs been two months since I saw it, but I think that it was pretty good in this regard. A light is turned off or we see the character's face before, but not during as it goes to a different shot when it actually happens.

Iʼm still trying to stay away from too many spoilers, but in one part the characters are trying to hid bodies by pretending that they arenʼt dead and decided to do it in the most suggestive way. One way was where they stuck a bottle in that personʼs hand and gave them a hat and it just looked like he was intoxicated and sleeping. While a cover up nearby is that two alive people were doing very suggestive things. They, for one, could just be sitting talking like regular people or playing cards or something. For the rest of the bodies, it could be changed to something similar to the "drunk" man.

Core problems in Clue (1985):
Here is the rundown for all of the main characters. Spoilers will really begin here, so it is your last chance to stop reading if you havenʼt seen the movie!

How all of the characters are being blackmailed:
Miss Scarlet - Ran a house of “ill dispute”. (When my sister reads this she will roll her eyes at my dancing away from words that I donʼt want to use). Yvette worked for her and Colonel Mustard was a “client” (How vulgar!).
Colonel Mustard - Besides the aforementioned thing, he was a war profiteer.
Professor Plum - Had an affair with a patient (“Oh, how disgusting!” That quote sums up my thoughts).
Mrs. Peacock - Was paying people to vote for her husband who is a senator.
Mrs. White - Had husbands who all died mysteriously.
Mr. Green - Is a homosexual who doesnʼt want that revealed because he could lose his job.

Possible changes:
This is very difficult because instead of having good characters vs. bad, they are all “shady”, they are meant to be unlikable, and we are supposed to be suspicious of all of them. So, most of this is fine and I donʼt have to change it!

The only one that I would change is Miss Scarletʼs. Maybe she ran some sort of speakeasy or forbidden saloon thing? Yvette wouldʼve been a waitress and Colonel Mustard would visit there but not for other reasons besides drinking.
Professor Plum should probably be changed too. Maybe he was experimenting with different toxic chemicals and it got him fired from his job? Itʼs also fine to just leave the affair as a rumor but remove the comments. As I said above, either way we should take out the really suggestive comments about it all.

I canʼt think of a way to change Mr. Green, but I donʼt think it is that necessary? I'm not sure what the Code's stand on that was. I've done some research, but I couldn't find anything. I'll leave it in, but any offensive comments to Mr. Green about it should be taken out.

There is “proof” of the things that each person is being blackmailed for, which takes away all of our suspicion, so I would remove it, but there is a critical reason why it is there. Part of it is that “the murderer” reads it and knows about the how the blackmailer got his information. Instead of the “proof” that we see in this movie (which is content heavy), maybe there could just be a list with names of everyone who might know something.

In each of the three endings when revealing who didnʼt do it, they should be proved innocent for the thing they are being blackmailed about. Somehow. My brain is starting to run out of ideas at this point, so I don't have any good suggestions.

ʻ“...and to make a long story short...” 
“Too late!”ʼ

That finishes off my “breening”! Check HERE for the other entries in this blogathon!

Remember though, I do have so much fun watching this movie! To prove it to you, Iʼll leave you with my sistersʼ and my favorite scene in the movie that we quote nearly on a daily basis:

ʻ“Wadsworth, am I right in thinking there's nobody else in this house?” 
“Um... no.”
“Then there is someone else in this house?”
“Sorry, I said ʻnoʼ meaning ʻyes.ʼ”
“ʻNoʼ meaning ʻyes?ʼ Look, I want a straight answer, is there someone else, or isn't there, yes, or no?”
“No there is, or no there isn't?”

A little later

ʻ“Well, there is still some confusion as to whether or not there is anybody else in this house!”
“I told you, there isn't.”
“There isn't any confusion, or there isn't anybody else?” 
“Either! Or both.”
“Just give me a clear answer!”
“Certainly!....What was the question?”
“Is there anybody else in this house?” 

Thanks for reading! If youʼve seen this what do you think of the changes that wouldʼve had to be made for the Code? Any changes that I missed? Has anyone else played the board game and loved it like I have?



  1. Clue is so good! I loved the different endings that they had.

    1. It is! Having three endings is one of the best ideas in a movie, ever!

  2. Oh, I love this movie. I've seen it many times, and I love all the different endings. It's so quotable, too. And the actors all did such a good job.

    1. I was wondering if you'd seen this, McKayla, because it seems like something that you'd enjoy! Ah, the quote are AMAZING. I've seen Tim Curry, Christopher Lloyd, and Madeline Khan in things, but now I want to see the others in different roles.

  3. I agree about some of the language and suggestiveness for sure. I never like those things. However, I absolutely love it as a mystery and comedy, with so many quotable lines!

    1. Ugh, yes! Those things are so unnecessary! Whenever I find something that doesn't throw it in randomly I get excited. But, the mystery is so complicated and well put together!

  4. Congratulations on a wonderful breening job! You did a great job! I have never seen this film, but I have played the game! The first boardgame of Clue was themed for the film, although I think it was a later film version, if there is such a thing. Anyway, this sounds like a really interesting movie. I am intrigued by the idea of three different endings. How fascinating! I loved the way you revealed more and more information as your article progressed without ever revealing who did it. All your points were very valid. You suggested some excellent ways to fix those problem, such as some common PCA tactics of the "house of ill repute" becoming the "speakeasy" and affairs being implied or untrue. Excellent! As always, I appreciate your differing to us on all matters Code. I am so impressed by how much you have learned about the Code! Thank you for participating.

    Yours Hopefully,

    Tiffany Brannan

    1. Why thank you, Tiffany! I'm glad that you and Rebekah hosted this so I had the opportunity! I don't know of a later film, but I have heard rumors of remakes in the process which could be interesting. I'm glad to find someone else who likes the game! My first introduction to it was actually through a card game variation, have you ever played that one? I've never seen different endings in any other movie, so I love that this has that. Thank you again! I am really picky about spoilers and I didn't want anyone to accidentally read the endings. I used the "speakeasy" approach because I thought that I read about you doing something like that in I've of your articles, but I can't remember what it was. I didn't know that it was an actually PCA tactic. Nifty! Absolutely, thank you for the chance!

  5. This movies is so funny! My family really enjoyed it, especially Tim Curry's character. And honestly, Mr. Green looks and acts like Thomas Sanders (like, he could be Thomas almost), so when he came out as homosexual, I wasn't that surprised.

    1. It is so hilarious! All of the dialogue is so clever and lithe details crack me up. I hadn't thought of how they look alike, but that's true, they do resemble each other!

  6. Clue is awesome. Mr. Breen would have had a field day with it, but it's awesome. :-)

    1. Oh boy, I can't even imagine how shocked he would've been! It's fun for us, though. :-)

  7. I think this movie is really cool. I love the game so much!!!


    1. Isn't it? Such a neat concept! The game is awesome. Taking about it has made me want to play again!


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"If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, where you stop your story." -Orson Welles