The Set of 400: #154 – My Favorite Singing Telegram

Today! Because communism was just a red herring –

Clue (1985)

Directed by Jonathan Lynn

Starring Tim Curry (x3), Lesley Ann Warren, Eileen Brennan (x3), Christopher Lloyd (x5), Madeline Kahn (x4), Michael McKean (x4), Martin Mull, Colleen Camp (x3), Lee Ving, Bill Henderson, Jeffrey Kramer (x2), Howard Hesseman

In the very limited realm of Movies Based on Board Games, Clue is far and away the king. It’s not a genre that should’ve necessarily been encouraged to expand, and thankfully it hasn’t managed to in the three plus decades hence. On the other hand, why not? While most board games don’t present enough characters or plot to facilitate a real story to emerge, I’m sure they could come up with something halfway decent for, say, Candyland. Who do you see playing Plumpy in that one? Someone get a treatment together!

Yikes – I didn’t make this graphic – this was actually in development at some point. Gah.

But if anything was going to make the leap, I guess Clue had the best potential. Murder mystery! All those characters! The game plays like a mini-movie every time you get rolling, so add in a bunch of solid comedians and twisty, gimmicky endings and boom! Cross-marketed corporate synergy! I really enjoy the idea of the multiple-endings novelty, but have only ever seen the movie on TV, with all three endings stacked together. Was this cool or frustrating in theaters? And if you’re going to go so far as to play different endings at random, doesn’t it seem like maybe they should’ve made more of them? I mean, considering that the same film leads to three different conclusions we’re supposed to take as plausible, logic wouldn’t have held them back from just creating endings where each character was the murderer. Right? Maybe it’s just hoping for too much – maybe it was super complicated just having the three – but I think this is an idea that absolutely could be revisited today with great intrigue. Maybe Candyland could have a whole bunch of solutions! Work that into the treatment, why don’t you!

It’s a pretty light film, but there is a ton of murder and loads of corpses strewn about considering how often we watched this thing as kids. I’m not even real sure what the appeal was for us as children – it’s a decidedly grown up film containing plot points dealing with nuclear fission, extramarital affairs, J. Edgar Hoover, communism, government secrets, and Yvette’s skimpy outfit. But I can’t even ballpark how many times I’ve seen Clue. In rewatching it recently, all of a sudden a lot of jokes made sense (I may not have recognized the United Nations slams as jokes before) and the innuendos were clear. But what did eight-year-old Joe make of the phrase in flagrante delicto? Maybe it was just the falling chandeliers and generally goofy tone – I mean, while there are a lot of adult concepts and plot points kids couldn’t possibly follow, this is still a movie with a bunch of silly wordplay and fast-paced action. I remember as a kid we’d slog through the set up over and over again, but it wasn’t until Wadsworth starts rapidly recounting all the prior events of the evening that it really came alive.

And also, the greatest double slap ever

The film features such an overall balanced comedic attack that you may think it impossible to choose an MVP – but you are wrong! More for the surprise than anything else, the great uncredited Johnny Fever himself Howard Hesseman turning up as the door-to-door religious fanatic/police chief takes the honor!

“The kingdom of heaven is at hand!”

Much of the main cast is advancing today, headed by Christopher Lloyd (#393 The Dream Team, #344 Back to the Future II, #182 One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, #281 Buckaroo Banzai) to the Five-Timers, and Madeline Kahn (#157 High Anxiety, #214 Nixon, #273 Cheap Detective) and Michael McKean (#294 1941, #389 Memoirs of an Invisible Man, #373 Planes, Trains, and Automobiles) to the Fours! Spotlight!

Three-Timers Brennan and Camp with McKean, Lloyd, and Kahn, and First-Timers Mull and Warren!

Coming Monday! Underneath the mango tree my honey and me can watch for the moon –

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