Without a Clue (1988)

PG  |   |  Comedy, Crime, Mystery  |  21 October 1988 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 6,912 users  
Reviews: 61 user | 32 critic

A drunken Sherlock Holmes is really just a cover for the real detective - Dr Watson.


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1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Leslie Giles
Lord Smithwick
Pat Keen ...
Peter Cook ...
Tim Killick ...
Matthew Savage ...
John Warner ...
Peter Giles
Real Lesley
Harold Innocent ...
Mayor Johnson
George Sweeney ...
Murray Ewan ...


This is a Sherlock Holmes story with a difference. Here Dr Watson is the ace detective and has been using an actor to play the part Holmes. Holmes is a drunken actor and gets on Watson's nerves. When Watson tries to go it alone, he doesn't have much success, so he is forced to let Holmes take all the credit once more. Written by Rob Hartill

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Watson...there's an evil mastermind on the loose! ...And my dear Holmes, there's an idiot on his trail! See more »


Comedy | Crime | Mystery


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

21 October 1988 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Sherlock and Me  »

Box Office


$8,539,181 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?


One of two productions that debuted in 1988 that starred actor Michael Caine and were set in Victorian England. The other was the television mini-series Jack the Ripper (1988). See more »


When Watson throws the darts into the magazine on the door he is shown to throw four darts, but when he grabs the darts and the magazine off the door he only removes three darts. See more »


Sherlock Holmes: What are you doing?
Dr. Watson: Thinking.
Sherlock Holmes: Right. I'm going to think too.
[Long pause]
Sherlock Holmes: What shall we think about, Watson?
See more »

Crazy Credits

The opening credits are superimposed over still images of Victorian London. The final shot of Holmes and Watson form the backdrop for the end credits. See more »


Featured in Timeshift: A Study in Sherlock (2005) See more »


Rock of Ages
Music by Thomas Hastings and lyrics by Augustus Montague Toplady
Sung by Mrs Hudson (Pat Keen) at the theatre
See more »

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User Reviews

Absolutely brilliant, Watson! A Sherlock Holmes story where LESTRADE SOLVES THE BLOODY CASE!
23 September 1999 | by (Canberra, Australia) – See all my reviews

The Sherlock Holmes stories are full of monumental blunders. Watson's famous war wound, which moves about from limb to limb, is among the least of them. Most of the blame for Arthur Conan Doyle's unparallelled clumsiness has fallen upon poor old John (or, according to one story, James) Watson - as if HE could possibly be responsible for the all (or any) of the inanities in, say, `The Mazarin Stone'.

`Without a Clue' is an honest, meticulously researched film that does what it can to redress the injustice. It reveals that Watson was really the brains of the Holmes/Watson team - that Sherlock Holmes does not, technically speaking, even exist. How does this get us around all the inconsistencies that have puzzled Sherlock aficionados over the past century? To be frank, it doesn't. But no theory does. There are just too many inconsistencies to be fended off and this theory is about as likely to be right as any other. It's the theory I tend to believe. At least it's funnier than any of its rivals.

Anyone who loves the Holmes stories - anyone who has not been exposed to the stories but is genetically predisposed to love them nonetheless - MUST see this film. You don't need to know who Holmes, Watson, Lestrade and Moriarty are in order to enjoy it. Or rather, you need to know, but whatever you may think, you DO know - knowledge of the Sherlock Holmes universe has found its way into the water supply and 90% of all people are born with it. That's why `Without a Clue' is so hilarious. That's why it won Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Screenplay and Best Actor. Actually, it didn't win anything, but I presume this was only because of some footling technicality.

P.S.: I should really set readers' minds at rest by telling them that Lestrade doesn't really solve the case. `Without a Clue' offers us a radically revisionist account of history - but not THAT radical.

39 of 53 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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