Clue (1985) Poster



The line, "Communism was just a red herring," is said in all three endings (twice by Wadsworth and once by Miss Scarlet). Not only is it is a pun (particularly after World War II, the Russian communists were frequently called "Reds", e.g. the anti-communist slogan, "Better dead than Red."), but it cleverly refers to a MacGuffin (or a literal "red herring") implemented by the screenwriters, because none of the murderers motives end up having anything to do with creating political conspiracy.
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Three endings were shot, and a different one shown at each theater. All three are included on video. The DVD, however, aside from all three endings, also offers the option to play the movie with one randomly selected ending. In some cities, the newspaper print ads indicated which version ("Ending A", "Ending B" or "Ending C") was being shown at each theater.
The parquet floor in the Hall resembles the 'Clue' game board.
Madeline Kahn's short "Flames...on the side of my face" monologue about her hatred for Yvette the French maid was ad-libbed and improvised.
The color of each character's car is the same color as their playing piece in the game.
Prof. Plum indicates at dinner that he works for the World Health Organization, part of the United Nations Organization. This means he works for UNO WHO.
Wadsworth voices the object of the board game after the characters find Mr. Boddy, the board game's only victim, dead. Wadsworth yells "That's what we're trying to find out! We're trying to find out who killed him, and where, and with what!"
According to an interview with writer Jonathan Lynn, after a screening on the 25th Anniversary of the film's release, Carrie Fisher was originally to have been cast as Miss Scarlett, until she ended up in rehab four days before filming started. Lesley Ann Warren was a last-minute substitute.
Though the picture's performance at the box-office was disappointing, the film has since developed a cult following.
The first movie based on a board game.
The entire house is a set, except for the ballroom which was shot on location at a mansion in Pasadena, CA.
Jennifer Jason Leigh, Demi Moore and Madonna were considered for the role of the buxom French maid Yvette. Eager to earn the part, Colleen Camp went to her audition in a French maid costume. In a 2013 BuzzFeed retrospective, director Jonathan Lynn admitted that although he was impressed with Camp's comedic acting skills, it was her well-endowed figure that ultimately convinced him - "There was no avoiding it."
After the production concluded, the mansion set was bought and redecorated by the producers of Dynasty (1981), who used it as The Carlton Hotel.
The secret passages in the movie lead to the same rooms they do in the board game: the kitchen leads to the study and the conservatory leads to the lounge.
The screams heard when the characters rush to the maid in the billiard room are not from the actress playing the maid. They are from the actress playing Miss Scarlett, from the scenes where the dead body of the cook and the live body of Wadsworth fall out of the meat locker.
The actor playing Mr. Boddy is the front man of the punk rock band Fear, and was chosen because his name is Lee Ving - Mr. Boddy will be 'LeaVing' soon.
In the opening scene when Wadsworth checks on Mrs. Ho the cook, the live-televised Army-McCarthy hearings are on the kitchen's television. One phrase spoken by Senator Joseph McCarthy that can be heard clearly as Wadsworth departs, is "...professors and teachers, who are getting their orders from Moscow..." This Senate hearing is also the same one in which the famous quote of '...Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?' is spoken by Head Counsel for the Army Joseph N. Welch. With the coverage of the hearings taking place on live television, the events of the movie take place on Wednesday June 09, 1954.
In an interview conducted in November 2009, Jonathan Lynn stated that he had cast the film himself. He said that whilst actors were recommended to him via the casting department, he made the final decisions. His original choice for Wadsworth was British actor Leonard Rossiter, most famous for the role of Rigsby in Rising Damp, but he sadly passed away in 1984 just prior to pre-production. He was followed by Rowan Atkinson, who was well known in England for his roles in Not the Nine O'Clock News (1979) and The Black Adder (1982), but the studio felt he was too unknown to American audiences to be the leading actor in an American production. Ironically, Atkinson would go on to huge success with his character Mr. Bean in America some years later. Jonathan Lynn had known Tim Curry since they were teenagers, and personally asked him to be in the film.
The females in the film wear the opposite colors of their namesake. Miss Scarlet wears green, Mrs. White wears black (but the inside of her coat flashes a brilliant white) and Mrs. Peacock wears gold and orange (though has peacock feathers in her hairpiece). Mr. Green wears no green at all, but instead a blue suit with a red tie. Colonel Mustard wears a dark brown suit (and a light cream overcoat), and Professor Plum wears a burgundy vest and grey suit. Interestingly, each character's car matches the color of their names and game-piece.
The film takes place in "New England," as revealed in the opening scenes. Soon after, Miss Scarlet is picked up by Professor Plum and explains that she is on her way to Hill House, which is "off Route 41." In real-life New England, there is a Route 41 that spans the northwestern section of Connecticut, continuing through the southwestern section of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. So, Hill House, story-wise, is located in either of these two New England states.
The Max Busch House, the mansion used for the exterior and ballroom scenes, was destroyed by a massive fire on October 5th, 2005. After the fire, several people left flowers on the front gate and even shed tears, evidence of how much the house was cherished by the local community.
During filming, Michael McKean, who played Mr. Green, would often spend time on the Billiard Room set playing pool.
The Paramount Pictures logo of the era seen at the end of the movie is a rare instance where it is displayed in black-and-white.
The film was one of a number of pictures, mostly comedies, made and released between the mid-1970s and mid-1980s, that revived the old dark house mansion movie. The films include Clue (1985), Haunted Honeymoon (1986), Neil Simon's Murder by Death (1976), The Spiral Staircase (1975), The Private Eyes (1980), The Cat and the Canary (1978), House of the Long Shadows (1983) and Kenny Everett's Bloodbath at the House of Death (1984).
Tim Curry had previously starred in another comedy set in a gigantic mansion. That was The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) where Curry played Frank 'n' Furter.
Wadsworth decides how the guests will be paired up to search the house by cutting matchsticks into various lengths, and the guests appear to draw these at random. Naturally the partners were assigned by the script and the process could not be left to chance. Before Wadsworth holds out the cut matchsticks to the guests, he was given them in the correct order; the guests acted as if they were picking randomly but simply drew the matchsticks in order from left to right.
The three main female suspects (Eileen Brennan, Madeline Kahn, and Lesley Ann Warren) were Academy Award nominees for Best Supporting Actress at different points in their careers.
The song Yvette is dancing to in the beginning of the film, "Shake, Rattle, and Roll," is the version recorded by Bill Haley & The Comets, only it is sped up with the pitch increased. This trick was also used in Airplane! (1980), in which a sped of version of the BeeGees song "Stayin' Alive" is played.
One of the photos burnt is a photo of Colonel Mustard and a soldier, both in US Army dress uniform. The soldier is likely his driver and the Motorist.
Mrs. White tells Col. Mustard in the kitchen "flies are where men are most vulnerable." Prior to this scene, she ended a fight between Mustard and Mr. Boddy, by kneeing the latter in the groin, literally proving her point.
In the US version of the board game, only Professor Plum and Colonel Mustard have any identifiable backgrounds given their titles. In the UK version Reverend Green's profession is also apparent. All of the other characters' backgrounds are left ambiguous. However, on some editions of the board game, the covers show Mrs. White dressed as a maid.
In non-North American editions of the Cluedo board-game such as the UK, Mr. Boddy has been known as Dr. Black, full name Dr. David Black or Samuel Black. The full name of Mr. Boddy in the 2002 US board-game is Mr. John Boddy.
The term 'Schtupping' is actually a crude Yiddish word for the sex act; this is why Madeline Kahn's character in Blazing Saddles (1974) is named "Lilly Von Schtupp" for rather obvious reasons.
John Cleese was considered for the role of Wadsworth.
Madeline Kahn and Eileen Brennan had previously worked together in At Long Last Love (1975) and were good friends up until working on Clue. According to an interview with Brennan for Kahn's biography "Madeline Kahn: Being the Music, A Life", she believed Kahn was too nervous to confront discussing Brennan's stint in rehab and kept interaction to a minimum. They rarely spoke again after shooting.
In the novelization, after Mrs. White tells Col. Mustard, "Husbands should be like Kleenex: Soft, Strong, and Disposable," Miss Scarlet interjects with a double entendre: "Their slogan is Soft, Strong, and Pops Up, Too."
Professor Plum hypothesizes to the group that the brandy was poisoned. In the original Cluedo board game, poison was included among the possible weapons, and later re-introduced in 1990's game Clue Master Detective.
Differences in two weapons in the film include that the revolver in the board game is most commonly a pepperbox revolver (an early 1800s revolver with the six bullet chambers jutting out from the main gun parts). However, it is changed to a regular .38 caliber revolver to possibly keep up with the modern time period the film is set in. The lead pipe in the game was also bent at an angle, to emphasize the fact that it was (possibly) used in Mr. Boddy's murder; the film shows it completely straight.
Eileen Brennan's first film after her release from the Betty Ford Center for painkiller addiction, caused by her recovery from a 1982 car accident. Brennan's greatest physical challenge during shooting was running around the mansion for the "re-enactment" sequence.
There is an inscription over the fireplace which reads "Nouveau Riche Oblige".
The New England mansion in the movie, "Hill House," was named after the producer of the movie, Debra Hill. This also has a possibly unintented similarity to the film The Haunting (1963), in which there is a mansion called Hill House that is also located in New England.
In the theatrical trailer, John Morris' score is not used. In its place is Elmer Bernstein's score from Airplane! (1980).
There are a few departures from the original board game; in the movie the hall has been transformed into part of the playing board and has been replaced by the front doors. This was probably done so that the rooms didn't have to stand alone.
The role of Wadsworth was written for Leonard Rossiter but he passed away. Rowan Atkinson was considered for the role but was rejected by the studio because he was an unknown in the United States at the time.
When the evidence of Mr. Boddy's letters of informants and photographs is being stacked to be burned in the fireplace, there is a photograph of Mr. Green with his glasses on leaving a government building and holding a briefcase.
Actress Eileen Brennan had previously starred in an earlier Old Dark House mystery-comedy. That was about nine years earlier in Neil Simon's Murder by Death (1976), a parody of murder mysteries, where Brennan played Tess Skeffington.
Producer of the film Jon Peters and Lesley Ann Warren were at one time married and had a son together.
The name of the butler character "Wadsworth" (Tim Curry) was similar to "Waddington" who created the Cluedo board-game.
When he was originally contacted by the crew for a part in "Clue", Martin Mull thought he would be up for the role of Mr. Green. Mull would end up playing Colonel Mustard.
Debut feature film for Kellye Nakahara as an actress and Jonathan Lynn as a director.
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The line "A monkey's brains, although popular in Cantonese cuisine, are not often to be found in Washington DC" appears in two of the filmed endings, both times said by Wadsworth.
Tom Stoppard was initially approached to write the screenplay. He worked for a year before giving up and returning all the money he had already been paid. John Landis next approached Stephen Sondheim and Anthony Perkins, both of whom asked for far too much money.
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Wadsworth says the police will arrive in 39 minutes, and the Chief rings the bell 45 real time minutes later.
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Is being remade at Twentieth-Century Fox. Announced on August 17th, 2016
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At dinner, Colonel Mustard quotes Kipling as saying, "The female of the species is more deadly than the male". By modern English rules, the comparative form of the 2-syllable adjective "deadly" is "deadlier"; however, the form "more deadly" is also acceptable and is, in fact, an exact quotation of Kipling's 1911 poem, "The Female of the Species Is More Deadly Than the Male".
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The phone in the lounge lists the number as YL-7091. The corresponding number prefix (95) was reserved for radio station use in the 1950s.
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In the early part of the movie, each of the board game characters is given one of the board game weapons in a black gift box. They are as follows Mrs. White - the rope; Mr. Green - the lead pipe; Miss Scarlett - the candlestick; Colonel Mustard - the wrench; Mrs Peacock - the dagger; and Professor Plum - the revolver.
Wadsworth is asked if the FBI is in the habit of cleaning up after multiple murders. To which he replies, of course, why do you think it's run by a man called Hoover. The gag is that Hoover was also the name of a popular vacuum brand.
Colonel Mustard makes a joke about Rudyard Kipling (The female of the species is more deadly than the male) and then asks Mrs Scarlett if she likes Kipling, to which she says "Sure, I'll eat anything!" In the UK, there is a confectioners called "Mr. Kipling", so the joke loses impact.
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Mrs. Peacock's car is a Packard.
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Madeline Kahn and Eileen Brennan had worked together before in Peter Bogdanovich's musical At Long Last Love (1975), a critical and financial bomb that was so bad that Bogdanovich publicly apologized for it, then disowned it. Brennan would work for him one more time in Texasville (1990), while Kahn never worked for him again. Their "Clue" co-star Colleen Camp would later star in another Bogdanovich directed flop Illegally Yours (1988), which he considers one of his worst movies.
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Martin Mull and Eileen Brennan had previously worked together in FM (1978).
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Proffesor Plum claims to work for the United Nations Organisation (UNO), in the branch of the World Health Organisation (WHO). This means he works for "you know who" (UNO - WHO)
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All the rooms are in the correct order as they are in the board game - (clockwise) hall, lounge, dining room, kitchen, ballroom, conservatory, billiard room, library and study, as well as a cellar (a non-suspected area in the game). There are also several new rooms not seen in the game including a bathroom, master bedroom, attic and nursery.
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When everyone is split off into pairs, the partners correspond with the rolling order of the game - Miss Scarlet & Colonel Mustard, Mrs. White & (Wadsworth), Mr. Green & (Yvette), Mrs. Peacock and Professor Plum. Arguably, the drawing lots scene is symbolic of the die roll, and the constant referring to "ladies first" is reflective of Miss Scarlet rolling first in the game.
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The film's opening title card read "New England 1954".
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The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

The painting behind Mr. Boddy's chair in the dining room depicts Mr. Boddy in a butler's uniform, foreshadowing the revelation in Ending C that Mr. Boddy was the real butler.
There was actually a fourth ending scripted and shot, in which Wadsworth committed all the murders out of a twisted need for perfection in his life. He reveals that he poisoned everyone with a slow-acting toxin in their drinks. It ended with Wadsworth being killed by dogs as he attempted to escape by car from the house. The rather grim nature of the ending is probably why it was never released. It was never shown because the film makers thought the ending would have been too obvious - it only survives in the novelization and the storybook, which features but a single photo from that ending (the Chief punching Wadsworth in the stomach).
At the beginning of the movie Wadsworth tells the guests "Of course, since you've each been addressed by a pseudonym you'll have realized that nobody here is being addressed by their real name." In the third ending the characters find that this was true - even for Wadsworth himself.
When Mr. Boddy pretends to be dead after the revolver is fired in the dark and the six guests try to figure out how he died without having been shot, Wadsworth is missing during the entire sequence in the Study up until he joins the guests in checking on a screaming Yvette in the Billiard Room. Wadsworth's absence was supposed to be intentional because there was a fourth ending filmed where Wadsworth accuses Professor Plum of killing Mr. Boddy and Mrs. Peacock of killing the Cook, but Plum correctly deduces that the reason Wadsworth knows who murdered Mr. Boddy and his five informants (the Cook, Yvette, the Motorist, the Cop and the Singing Telegram Girl, respectively) is because Wadsworth murdered everyone himself. Wadsworth reveals he had poisoned all the guests with a slow-acting toxin he put in their drinks and then he runs to every room in the house that has a working telephone and he rips them out of the wall one by one. He is interrupted when the doorbell rings and is met by the undercover Chief of Police, who disarms Wadsworth with a punch to the gut after Wadsworth attempts to shoot him. The guests tell the Chief and the policemen with him Wadsworth did it all and Wadsworth starts to re-enact to them how he did it, only to slip out of the door and lock them all in Hill House. The police break the Conservatory window to get out with the guests and Wadsworth drives off, only to find the dogs he had at the dog house and Conservatory window are in the backseat and growling at him, about to attack him. The ending was rejected for being too dark and also to keep the film's allowed running time.
Originally, there were endings in which each character killed off everyone once, and then the ending where they all did it. However, the final cut would have made the movie over two and a half hours, and director Lynn thought it to be excessive, hence the three endings that are in the final cut.
Mr. Green is being blackmailed because he is a homosexual working for the government. Later on, J. Edgar Hoover calls the house. In "Ending C" where everyone is guilty, Mr. Green is really an FBI agent sent in to infiltrate the blackmailer. In a couple of ironic twists, J. Edgar Hoover has long been suspected of being a homosexual and in the 1950's, Hoover started a case called "Operation: Babydoll" in which he gathered intelligence on possible homosexuals working in the federal government.
In Ending B, where it's revealed Mrs. Peacock murders all six people, it was revealed that Peacock is actually shot dead by the Chief of Police when he confronts her at her car. After saying they got Mrs. Peacock when Wadsworth and the other five guests run outside, the Chief then turns to Mrs. Peacock's dead body and shoots her again. This was deemed too dark and Eileen Brennan recorded a new line saying she's the senator's wife so that Peacock is arrested instead of shot. However, part of the rejected sequence remains in the film: after the police run to Mrs. Peacock to arrest her, you can see smoke in the air from the Chief's revolver as if it had been recently fired.
The pairing-up scene contains very subtle humor in its outcome:
  • Miss Scarlet and Colonel Mustard: Mustard was one of Scarlet's clients.

  • Wadsworth and Mrs. White: White coyly threatens Wadsworth after he refuses to let her leave the mansion ("If we're ever alone together..."), and Wadsworth tells her no man in his right mind would end up alone with her.

  • Mrs. Peacock and Professor Plum: Peacock is uptight and conservative, and Plum is lecherous and philandering.

  • Yvette and Mr. Green: Yvette is outwardly sexy and Green is allegedly homosexual.

When Wadsworth cuts the power to the house during his solving of the mystery, it represents the point of divergence of the three endings.
The film featured three endings, five bodies, six weapons and seven suspects. This is featured in one of the tag-lines for the film but as there are six murders, one for each weapon, there are actually six bodies, not five.
Wadsworth's true identity is different in all three endings. In "ending A" he is what he says he is, that is a real butler who is another one of Mr. Boddy's victims (and he's also a very good amateur sleuth). In "ending B" he is an undercover FBI agent and being a butler was his cover, and in "ending C" he is really the despicable Mr. Boddy pretending to be a butler.
Body count: 6 (with either Ending A or B) or 7 (with Ending C).
In Ending "B", Mr. Green remarks "Mrs. Peacock was a man?!" In ornithology, a "peacock" refers to the male of the species, and a "peahen" is the female counterpart.
When the characters decide to draw lots to search the house, Mrs. Peacock expresses fear that she will be paired with the killer. If the third ending is "what really happened," she and her partner, Professor Plum, are the only killers up to that point. The other pairs are Mrs. White and Wadsworth, who had just said to Mrs. White that "no man in his right mind would be alone together with you"; Yvette and Mr. Green, the only man who was not interested in going with Yvette to the attic; and Miss Scarlet and Colonel Mustard, who suggested the split after seeing the motorist.
The murders are as follows: (1) The Cook Mrs. Ho in the kitchen with the dagger; (2) Mr Boddy in the hall with the candlestick (his previous demise in the study from the revolver was a false death); (3) The Motorist in the lounge with the wrench; (4) Yvette the Maid in the billiard room with the rope (5) The Cop with the lead pipe in the library and (6) The Singing Telegram Girl with the revolver in the front hall.
The plot summary on the back of cover of American home video releases actually contains a minor spoiler for one of the endings ("Was it Miss Scarlet in the billiard room with the rope?").
In Ending "B" and "C", respectively, both Mrs. Peacock and Mr. Green take off their glasses when their cover is blown.
In ending C, where everyone but Mr. Green murders a character, only Colonel Mustard (With the Wrench) Mrs. Peacock (With the Knife) and Mrs. White (With the Rope) use the actual weapons they were given as gifts. Plum finishes off Mr. Boddy with Miss Scarlet's Candlestick, Miss Scarlet uses Mr. Green's Lead Pipe for her murder, and Wadsworth/Mr. Boddy, uses Professor Plum's revolver to shoot the Singing Telegram Girl. Mr. Green shoots Wadsworth/Mr. Boddy with a revolver, but it's a gun he's brought with him, and not the weapon given to Plum by Mr. Boddy (The Actual Butler).
When walking through the hall to the library, Col. Mustard pauses to look up at the chandelier that later in the film, almost kills him.
Significant characters in film that were not in the board-game included Wadsworth the Butler, The Cop, The Cook Mrs. Ho, Yvette the Maid, The Motorist, The Evangelist/The Chief and The Singing Telegram Girl.
In two of the endings (Ending A and Ending B) where multiple people are not the killers, as is the case in Ending C, a woman is the murderer in both, the film connecting with that old maxim, the female of the species being deadlier than the male.
In end the credits, where Clue game cards show pictures of the characters, only three correctly match the character with the weapon they initially received in their gift boxes: Mrs. Peacock is shown with the dagger (which she used to kill the Cook in Endings #2 and #3), Mrs. White is shown with the rope (which she used to kill Yvette in Ending #3), and Mr. Green is shown with the lead pipe (which was used to kill the Cop, but not by Mr. Green). Professor Plum is also shown with the rope, though he never used it during the course of the film or in any of the endings. Miss Scarlet is shown with the revolver, which she did use to kill the Singing Telegram Girl in Ending #1. Colonel Mustard, Wadsworth, Yvette, and Mr. Boddy are not pictured with weapons on their cards. Additionally, the candlestick and wrench are not shown on any of the cards.
The wrench given to Colonel Mustard during the "Gift" sequence is a Billings & Spencer Co. 12" adjustable "Monkey" Wrench. (Identifiable by the triangle emblem etched into the bottom of the handle, seen when the gloved hand is approaching the Motorist to kill him when he's on the phone.)
When Yvette sneaks down to the billiard room and is asked if anyone saw her the voice is clearly a male's voice. However it was a female who was revealed that killed her, Mrs. White.
In Ending C, Wadsworth, Mrs. White, and Miss Scarlett are the only ones to murder someone who is of the opposite gender. (The Singing Telegram Girl, Mrs. White's husband, and The Cop-respectively).
In "ending C" its Mrs. White who kills Yevette who is the maid. In the original board game, Mrs. White is always depicted as the maid.
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