Blu-ray Review Clue: The Movie Blu-Ray Review

Neil Middlemiss

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Clue finally arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Paramount and the results are pleasing. A classic little gem of a film which assembles a fine cast of funny talent to run the gamut of word-play and physical foibles over the course of a deadly evening. Though not terribly successful, the film remains entirely entertaining and is one of the finest examples of adapting a non-traditional entity for the big screen. A remake has been on again and off again over the years (with Pirates of the Caribbean director Gore Verbinski coming close to getting a green light), but somehow I don’t think anything will match the cheeky joy of this now 27 year-old great.

 


Clue: The Move



Studio: Paramount Pictures
Year: 1985
US Rating: PG (though in all likelihood, this is not the ‘cut’ version)
Film Length: 96 Minutes (with all 3 endings), Ending A = 87 minutes, Ending B = 87 minutes, Ending C = 86 minutes
Video: MPEG-4 AVC 1080P High Definition

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Audio: English Mono DTS-HD Master Audio, French/Spanish/Portuguese Mono Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese


Release Date: August 7, 2012

Review Date: August 17, 2012


“In your hands, you each have a lethal weapon. If you denounce me to the police, you will also be exposed and humiliated. I'll see to that in court. But, if one of you kills Wadsworth now, no one but the seven of us will ever know. He has the key to the front door, which he said would only be opened over his dead body. I suggest we take him up on that offer. The only way to avoid finding yourselves on the front pages is for one of you to kill Wadsworth. NOW."


The Film

4/ 5


Clue, based in premise and parameter on the Parker Brothers’ board game of the same name (called Cluedo in the UK) is as much an adaptation as it is a loving riff on Agatha Christie mysteries - which themselves were fertile source material for the board game.


On a dark and stormy evening, guests attend a mysterious dinner and are asked to assume pseudonyms. The purpose for the gathering is a secret, their host unrevealed and their evening far more dangerous - and clumsy - than any of them could have supposed. On this evening the guests and staff include the butler, the cook, and the maid, Professor Plumb, Miss Scarlett, Mrs. White, Mr. Green, Mrs. Peacock, Colonel Mustard and the late-arriving Mr. Boddy. As Wadsworth the butler begins revealing the purpose for the gathering (and exposing secrets), Mr. Boddy hands out gifts to the assembled guests (a gun, a lead pipe, rope, and the other murder weapons from the board game) and suggests that someone take out the butler; the lights are shut off - there is a gunshot, a thud, a scream, a crash - and when the lights come back on - a dead body. Unable to leave and unwilling to stay, the guests must uncover the killer and preserve their dignity.


As a collective movie-going audience we may-well roll our eyes at the prospect of a film based on a board game (Battleship anyone?), but Clue is something entirely special; a delightfully farcical jaunt of a film rippling with sublime comedic talent who embrace their characters with near giddy delight and a prowess of funny that has aged remarkably well. The board game may well have served as the seed, but what plays out is a witty and spirited take on the turns of Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot - albeit without the insightful and modest crime-solver on hand to save the day.


Written by John Landis and Jonathan Lynn and directed by Lynn with a stage-play tone, Clue is a brisk and joyfully charming charade. An ensemble piece, the first act is heavily anchored by the brilliant Tim Curry as the Wadsworth, the Butler. His taught British accent and wry smugness run counterpoint to his accident-prone cadence. Eileen Brennan brings a haughty heiress quality to her portrayal of Mrs. Peacock while the legendary Madeline Kahn glides misanthropically through scenes as the dark Mrs. White. Christopher Lloyd is sly and more than a little free with his hands around the ladies as Professor Plum. Michael McKean pulls off the effete Mr. Green with ease while Martin Mull gives Colonel Mustard a proud and oddly impotent quality. Lastly, the lovely Lesley Ann Warren imbues Miss Scarlet with the sultriness and sexiness the name is intended to imply. It is a terrific cast whose comedic timing and bantering interplay earn even the jokes that were telegraphed ahead an easy smile. Almost three decades after its release, Clue remains fun, nearly-clever, and immensely watchable.



The Video

4/5


Clue on Blu-ray is terrific. Paramount’s 1080p transfer presents a clean image, surprisingly bright colors for the well-lit sets and a dearth of dust and debris from the print. The early exterior shots don’t fare quite as superbly but that is only by comparison to the interiors. Black levels are mostly very good and overall this is a genuinely solid HD release.



The Sound

3.5/5


The English Mono DTS-HD Master Audio is serviceable – fitting for the film and for how fans have always seen it (little by way of ambient sounds and any real depth). For a film that survives on the quality of the dialogue it is important that the center channel carries the weight of that burden without issues – and it does. It isn’t an exciting audio but quite frankly if you are enjoying the quality of the script the less than convincing claps of thunder won’t hurt your enjoyment of the film.



The Extras

1/5


Option to watch all three endings or have one ending randomly selected.

Theatrical Trailer



Final Thoughts


I love Clue and have watched the film at least once every year. Having suffered through the less than impressive DVD version over the past twelve years, this Blu-ray release is a little revelation.


For all the comedies in recent years that have swung from gimmick premises to R-Rated libidinous and raunchy fun it is genuinely refreshing to recapture something entirely more innocent and simple. Cheeky puns, twisting words, occasional pratfalls and a cast chewing up their characters makes for a wonderful movie-watching experience. Comparisons are often made with the similarly plotted Murder by Death, released years before in 1976. Also filled with a fine ensemble cast (though the stars were bigger), Murder was never quite as snappy as Clue, though which film is better may in fact depend upon which film you found first.


As with the DVD release, the option to watch all three endings or select the feature for one of the three alternates to play at random is available. I have always enjoyed the mania of all three endings playing out myself. I recommend uncovering Clue at your earliest convenience.


Overall (Not an average)

4/5


Neil Middlemiss

Kernersville, NC

 

TonyD

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Maybe I need to watch this agian because I always felt like it was a poor remake of Murder. It has been maybe 20 years since saw this so maybe my thoughts will be different now.
 

Moe Dickstein

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I'd say Clue is definitely a better film than Murder By Death which is both weirder and more convoluted and not as funny, though I do like both.
Too ad they didn't ask Jonathan Lynn to do a track or reconstruct the fourth ending as a bonus.
Just wish some physical store would carry this damn disc!
 

Dave B Ferris

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Within a seven-or-eight mile radius of my house, there are three Barnes and Noble locations that have the disc in stock.
However (and Moe, I do not necessarily mean you, personally), I think sometimes when folks say "I wish I could find such-and-such",
they really mean "I wish I could find such-and-such for a price close to the price that Amazon charges".
I know B&N's prices are high, even with a membership discount; however, as my own personal eccentricity, I just like shopping (and browsing)
at physical B&N's. Not that I have much choice - I used to shop at DVD Planet in Huntington Beach (where they had lower prices), but the store
was closed, without any warning.
 

Moe Dickstein

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No, I literally could not find a copy at any price.
Even Fry's which carries almost EVERYTHING says it's "backordered". I see you're in LA, and so you know what it means when I tell you that I couldn't even get a copy when I stopped in at Amoeba!
I will have to check out BN, honestly they don't come to mind as a place to buy movies until someone reminds me or it's time to use them as a price match at Fry's during the Criterion sale...
 

Dave B Ferris

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Actually, Orange County. When I input my zip code into the Barnes & Noble "in store pickup" dialog, I see results for five stores (all near my house; we both live in pretty dense areas).
Three of the five results (or locations) report having the disc in-stock. The other two locations, which I have visited in person, do not have media sections
in the store, so - really - they are 100% (three-out-of-three) for those stores that have media sections.
 

TravisR

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Thanks for the Barnes And Noble tip. I hadn't even considered that they'd get Clue but according to their site, it's in-stock at my local store. If it's the $22.99 MSRP, I can live with paying about $3 more than I would at Amazon for the joy of instant gratification.
 

Moe Dickstein

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Well I just use "LA" as a catchall for the parts between San Diego and Ventura ;) "LA" as opposed to Toledo. The point being that you would be aware of what Fry's and Amoeba are.
We only have one BN up here (in the valley) and I don't think they have a media section (Burbank). I'll have to look around, but honestly I'll probably just wait on this as there are about 40 other things I want too and I do have the DVD. Clue is going on the list I keep in my phone of things I want that I'll pick up when I spot them when the time is right, maybe used? Time will tell.
 

Dave B Ferris

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Sure, there are ways in which L.A. and O.C. are one big region. Our O.C. baseball team, as you probably know, now call themselves the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
I do know about Amoeba; for me it is a forty-minute drive, which I consider "too far", so I've only been there two or three times. I once read that they were considering an expansion into O.C., which would please me greatly. Evidently, however, it was a false alarm, or a trial balloon that did not float.
 

Moe Dickstein

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Dave B Ferris said:
Sure, there are ways in which L.A. and O.C. are one big region. Our O.C. baseball team, as you probably know, now call themselves the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
I do know about Amoeba; for me it is a forty-minute drive, which I consider "too far", so I've only been there two or three times. I once read that they were considering an expansion into O.C., which would please me greatly. Evidently, however, it was a false alarm, or a trial balloon that did not float.
Yes the good old LAAoA LOL. Back home in Chicago we had the "Rockford-Chicago Regional Airport" naming things doesn't make it so.
Amoeba can be a 40 minute drive for me too if I go at the wrong time of day and it's less than 10 miles away haha. It's really great for finding the obscure and older and collectible. But the real shock for me was Fry's, they usually get at least one of everything that comes out but this title for some reason is "backordered"
 

Osato

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Thanks for the review. I'll wait for a price drop on this one to about $10.
I love the film, but a little let down with the lack of new features...
 

classicmovieguy

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I think Madeline Kahn's "flames around my face" speech is a masterpiece. And correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't this Eileen Brennan's big return to movies after her car accident a few years previous?
 

gene c

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I've enjoyed Clue, Murder By Death and The Cheap Detective for many years now. No Oscar winners here but a nice way to enjoy a rainy Saturday Afternoon. I'll probably pick up the BR version when the price comes down a bit, or the next time I'm in BN etc. Being dialog driven aside, I think a good 5.1 mix, or even stereo, would have really added to the experience. I really like films/tv shows that are set in the 40's and early 50's. The cars, the furnishings, the waredrobe, even the way of life, are all hilarious viewed through 2012 eyes.
BTW, I have the "Colombo" board game that's a ripoff of the Clue game. Been on the top shelf of my closet for years.
 

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TonyD said:
Maybe I need to watch this agian because I always felt like it was a poor remake of Murder. It has been maybe 20 years since saw this so maybe my thoughts will be different now.
Honestly, I don't think Murder holds a candle to Clue. Clue is nicely paced, beautifully photographed, and the writing is witty. The comic timing of its cast is brilliant! I've always found Murder to be slow and unfunny. I was shocked when I discovered it was written by Neal Simon.
Doug
 

Matt Hough

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Originally Posted by Douglas Monce /t/323089/clue-the-movie-blu-ray-review#post_3963774
Honestly, I don't think Murder holds a candle to Clue. Clue is nicely paced, beautifully photographed, and the writing is witty. The comic timing of its cast is brilliant! I've always found Murder to be slow and unfunny. I was shocked when I discovered it was written by Neal Simon.
Doug
Well, comedy is such a personal thing. Murder by Death for me has always been a laugh riot, made more delightful by the hilarious parodies of some of the world's great detectives (plus inspired comic playing by Alec Guiness and Nancy Walker in roles not previously established). If you're familiar with the personalities of those detectives from movies that featured them, the laugh quotient is increased tremendously. Clue invented the personalities of those characters for the screen, but it's never had the non-stop laughs for me that Murder by Death has. Again, it's purely a personal reaction.
 

Colin Jacobson

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If asked to pick between "Murder" and "Clue", I'd go with the former, but I like both.

Haven't seen "Murder" in a while, but I liked it a lot when I reviewed the DVD:

http://www.dvdmg.com/murderbydeath.shtml
 

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Never a huge fan of Clue. I know how films like this can become huge on cable... didn't happen for me.
LOVE Murder. I have the DVD (unopened, but always craving it) but would still buy a blu of it. ;)
Favorite bits:
"...pocket still there?" (thought about this line the other day while reporting on the air about the Randy Travis arrest, he was in the store drunk and naked and trying to buy cigs... (pause a bit) naked... (more pausing...maybe giggle) NAKED! hee hee! the pocket thing just popped up in my brain but I didn't use it thinking everybody has forgotten about Murder... ),
"...stupid! Not let finish mushroom story!"
"oh! My mistake...NOT a bullet hole."
I can't believe folks prefer Clue over Murder. Strange... but to each his own. AND... I definitely need to give Clue a second go. I've seen the DVD in bargain bins a lot lately, but I'll wish list this Blu and wait for a price cut.
 

Douglas Monce

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MattH. said:
Well, comedy is such a personal thing. Murder by Death for me has always been a laugh riot, made more delightful by the hilarious parodies of some of the world's great detectives (plus inspired comic playing by Alec Guiness and Nancy Walker in roles not previously established). If you're familiar with the personalities of those detectives from movies that featured them, the laugh quotient is increased tremendously. Clue invented the personalities of those characters for the screen, but it's never had the non-stop laughs for me that Murder by Death has. Again, it's purely a personal reaction.
I agree completely on Guiness and Walker, however, for me, the parodies of the worlds great movie detectives was not particularly well written, and fell totally flat. It seems more like a fan film that a professionally crafted comedy.
Of course quite true that comedy is one of the most subjective kinds of entertainment there is. Its one reason that American comedies often don't play well in places like Japan.
Doug
 

Ejanss

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Well, there is a difference: Murder by Death was written by Neil Simon, while Clue was written by the co-writer of BBC's "Yes, Minister".
And certainly some of Clue's word-twisting dialogue sounds like it was written by Sir Humphrey and Bernard. ("Your double negative is proof positive!")
Douglas Monce said:
ts one reason that American comedies often don't play well in places like Japan.
(While I can think of some Japanese comedies that are hysterical over here. :D )
 

Radioman970

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Ejanss said:
Well, there is a difference: Murder by Death was written by Neil Simon, while Clue was written by the co-writer of BBC's "Yes, Minister".
And certainly some of Clue's word-twisting dialogue sounds like it was written by Sir Humphrey and Bernard. ("Your double negative is proof positive!")
(While I can think of some Japanese comedies that are hysterical over here. :D )
Gamera. :P
 

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