Milo Tindle and Andrew Wyke have something in common, Andrew's wife. In an attempt to find a way out of this without costing Andrew a fortune in alimony, he suggests Milo pretend to rob his house and let him claim the insurance on the stolen jewelry. The problem is that they don't really like each other and each cannot avoid the zinger on the other. The plot has many shifts in which the advantage shifts between Milo and Andrew. Written by
John Vogel <email@example.com>
Sleuth is based on an outstanding stage play by Anthony Shaffer. Sometimes, a work which succeeded on the stage doesn't transfer well to the big screen. Movies like Equus and Dangerous Corner - which were a delight in theatres - lose their power under the close scrutiny of a film camera. Sleuth is not a failure. It retains its stagebound plot, characters and dialogue, but somehow manages to be totally engrossing as well.
Part of the joy is due to Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine. The two giants of Britsh acting don't chew the scenery in an attempt to out-shine each other; they complement each other quite brilliantly and turn in two of the finest screen performances you could ever aspire to see. Olivier plays elderly author Andrew Wyke, an obscenely wealthy, well-educated and devious man. Caine is Milo Tindle, a charming, ever-polite young hairdresser. Milo visits Andrew to ask for his blessing in marrying his estranged wife. Although Andrew seems fairly open to the idea of giving away his wife (after all, they despise each other) he still feels stung by her exit, so he engineers a cruel game to humiliate Milo. But who is playing a trick on who?
The dialogue is terrific, but it needed terrific actors to get the best out of it. Caine and Oloivier do a fine job. Ken Adams' set design turns Olivier's gorgeous palatial house into a dazzling mansion of madness. The tinkly music by John Addison creates a playful yet ever-so-slightly uncomfortable mood. Joseph L. Mankiewicz directs perfectly, getting maximum suspense from his staging of scenes and thoughtful choice of camera angles. The twists are superbly disguised, especially the awesome "shock" climax which will blow you away. See Sleuth - it's one of the best!
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