4K UHD Review: Clue (Collector’s Edition)

Blu-ray Reviews, Reviews

You ever get into a conversation with someone about a movie and you’re left wondering, “Did we see the same movie?” Sometimes people do fall asleep during a movie and dream the second act. Or maybe they complete missed a key moment of the film by getting a popcorn refill. But once upon a time there was a film that had people completely describing different endings and everybody was right. When Clue came out before Christmas of 1985, it attempted to be like famous board game in more than the plot, characters and location. Each time you played the game, the identity of the killer, weapon and murder room in the mansion was different. The film took this attitude and released three versions of the movie with different endings. Depending which cineplex you went to in your town to see Clue, you came away with a different real killer. The new 4K UHD not only gives you a chance to see Clue with a theater quality resolution, but an option to have the disc randomly pick an ending.

In the middle of the night, a group of people show up at a large mansion outside Washington D.C. What could possibly bring these six people together? Wadsworth the butler (Rocky Horror Picture Show‘s Tim Curry) reveals that everyone received a letter about how they’ve been caught up in a blackmail scheme. The invitation promised that this will come to an end if they attend. Each member of the party is given a cover name in the letter (which is the names of the suspects in the board game). Mrs. Peacock (The Last Picture Show‘s Eileen Brennan) is a senator’s wife who has been taking bribes to influence her hubby. Mrs. White (Young Frankenstein‘s Madeline Khan) has lost five husbands under unusual circumstances. Professor Plum (Back to the Future‘s Christopher Lloyd) is a disgraced shrink. Mr. Green (This Is Spinal Tap‘s Michael McKean) is a State Department member with a deep secret. Colonel Mustard (Fernwood 2 Night‘s Martin Mull) is a war profiteer. Miss Scarlet (Mission: Impossible‘s Leslie Ann Warren) is a Madam with important D.C. clients. They all have reasons to keep from being exposed. The blackmailer arrives at the mansion. Mr. Boddy (Streets of Fire’s Lee Ving) seems ready to take the six guests deeper into his schemes. He gives them six murder weapons and wants one of them to kill Wadsworth. Except things go wrong when he turns out the lights. When the lights come back, Mr. Boddy is a body. The evening turns into a hunt to figure out who is the real killer in the mansion. Besides the six suspects and the butler, there’s also a French maid (The Swinging Cheerleaders‘ Colleen Camp) and a cook (M*A*SH*‘s Kellye Nakahara). The people who drop by the mansion during the night turn up dead rather quickly. Is all this connected? Will we learn who is the killer and which of the suspects will solve the case? Which of the three endings is the truth?

The cast of Clue is what keeps it such an addicting experience. They do more than play a name and a clue card as found in the game. The frantic physical chemistry between Tim Curry and Michael McKean when they re-enact the murders in overdrive is hilarious. While she’s not a real part of the game, Colleen Camp causes mischief as the maid. We also get a fun cameo from Jane Wiedlin of the Go-Gos that seems right since Lee Ving was the lead singer of Fear. It’s a double dose of L.A. punk pioneers. While not listed in the credits, you’ll get to experience Howard Hesseman (Dr Johnny Fever on WKRP in Cincinatti). Writer-Director Jonathan Lynn gives the film the classic Whodunnit feel as the mysteries of the guests and murders unravel. This is what you imagine when you play the game.

When Clue came out, they advertised in major markets which version of film was playing at which theater by calling them A, B and C. The hope was people would spend the weekend driving around to see a different version each weekend night. But the film didn’t do well at the box office. Perhaps filmgoers didn’t want to choose. When the movie arrived on VHS, they included all three endings. This became a big rental since now you didn’t have to see it three times to get all the endings. The good news is that the 4K UHD has an option so you can see all three endings together or let it randomly pick the ending. Do you want to guess who did it like playing a game of Clue?

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The Video is 1.85:1 anamorphic. The transfer was taken from the original camera negative. The Audio is DTS-HD MA 2.0 Mono. It seems natural that a film that takes place in the early ’50s goes back to Mono. The movie is subtitled in English.

Blu-ray has the movie and bonus features.

The Perfect Motive: Directing Clue (27:47) has Jonathan Lynn explain how he turned a board game into a script and film. He was originally hired to write the script. He points out that John Landis didn’t have much of a script although his concept had Wadsworth the Butler. He placed the action during the Red Scare since Lynn knew quite +a few people who fled to England after being blackballed in Hollywood. He created a Screwball Noir atmosphere. He used the game board to define elements of action. He came up with the multiple ending element. This excited everyone involved. When John Landis decided to do Spies Like Us, Lynn was offered the gig. He was friends with Tim Curry since they were teenagers. Lynn was originally an actor and played Danny Hooley on the Doctor In The House series. Lynn would later direct My Cousin Vinny.

Scene of the Crime: Producing Clue (22:04) has associate producer/ unit production manager Jeffrey Chervnov discuss how important Debra Hill was to his career. He started his career working as second AD on Escape From New York. Hill asked him what did he want to do. He talked about production managing. He worked on Halloween II & III. He then got brought along to do Clue and was offered an Associate Producer credit too. He and Hill played Clue and discussed how the film had to be made. He suggested a set that would be big enough so they wouldn’t have to take walls down. This also allowed Lynn to shoot the film in the order of the scenes in the script.

Not Just A Game: Scoring Clue (9:07) has film music historian Daniel Schweiger discuss the work of composer John Morris. Morris had worked with Mel Brooks on The Producers. He composed for Mel’s greatest hits and even The Elephant Man. Schweiger gets into the musical themes for the characters.

Original Trailer (1:34) doesn’t mention the multiple ending.

Shout! Studios presents Clue: Collector’s Edition. Directed by Jonathan Lynn. Screenplay by Jonathan Lynn. Starring Eileen Brennan, Tim Curry, Madeline Kahn, Christopher Lloyd, Michael McKean, Martin Mull, Lesley Ann Warren, Colleen Camp, Lee Ving, Bill Henderson, Jane Wiedlin and Howard Hesseman. Running Time: 96 minutes. Rating: Rated PG. Release Date: December 12, 2023.

Joe Corey is the writer and director of "Danger! Health Films" currently streaming on Night Flight and Amazon Prime. He's the author of "The Seven Secrets of Great Walmart People Greeters." This is the last how to get a job book you'll ever need. He was Associate Producer of the documentary "Moving Midway." He's worked as local crew on several reality shows including Candid Camera, American's Most Wanted, Extreme Makeover Home Edition and ESPN's Gaters. He's been featured on The Today Show and CBS's 48 Hours. Dom DeLuise once said, "Joe, you look like an axe murderer." He was in charge of research and programming at the Moving Image Archive.