Movie of the Week: Clue

If I were rich, like multimillionaire rich, I’d probably be penniless in no time flat.  I’d at least have a house to live in, though.  The possibility arises that, if I had the financial means to do so, I would have four dream houses built because I wouldn’t know which one I’d actually want to live in.  The houses are the following:  the Bates house from Psycho, the Marsten house from ‘Salem’s Lot ( the 1979 miniseries), the Jonathan Corwin House in Salem, and the house from the movie Clue.  I think if the money ever came my way, the Clue house would barely edge out the others, but it would, most likely, depend on my mood at the time.  Today, I’m in a Clue mood.

If you are familiar with the board game upon which the movie is based, you will recognize the names of Colonel Mustard, Mrs. White, Mrs. Peacock, Mr. Green, Professor Plum, and Miss Scarlet.  If you are familiar with late ’70s to early ’80s television and film, you’ll recognize the faces portraying them, including Christopher Lloyd, Michael McKean, Martin Mull, Lesley Ann Warren, and Tim Curry as the butler, Wadsworth.  The ensemble cast alone is enough to recommend a screening or umpteenth viewing.

All the characters are mysteriously invited to a dinner at a stately New England mansion on a dark and stormy night.  As the guests convene, small talk begins.  None of them seem to know each other, or at least not in any way they will admit to so early in the evening.

Then the seventh guest arrives, Mr. Boddy.  He is the (first) murder victim.  Each guest, including the butler, has a motive for killing Mr. Boddy, and they each have reason for not wanting the police to investigate.  Mr. Boddy has been blackmailing each of them, and they really do not want their secrets to be made public.

It is up to the group to solve the mystery (mysteries, really) before the police actually do arrive.  Any dinner party with a dead body is tough to explain, but when you have this many piling up (including the cook, the maid, and a cop), it’s near impossible.  It’s a good thing this film comes with multiple endings.

I have always been endlessly fascinated by Clue.  I don’t know if it is the concept of the mystery, the overall atmosphere, the setting, or the zeal of the cast which enthralls me.  Whatever it is, the ingredients all gel and the parts add up to a delectable sum.  Despite hokey jokes, or maybe because of them, it’s still consistently amusing even after repeated viewings.  What should be a mediocre movie is actually quite special.

I watched this movie not so long ago with my son.  He is seven years old, and he laughed quite a lot at the pratfalls and zingers.  His laughter was contagious and I was giggling madly right along with him.  Clue, if nothing else, offers a general sense of fun and good times.  We all need a little bit of something silly to make us smile every now and then.

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