Happy 30th Birthday, “Clue”!

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We hope you’ve enjoyed our first Ensemble Flashback this week in celebration of the 30th Anniversary of Clue!

In case you missed anything, meet the team that’s been recapping the performances this past week! Thank you Jeff, Kelsey, Katherine, Nick, Jordan, and Maddie for your enthusiasm and fun insights! I had no idea what I was doing here, but we were determined to enjoy ourselves (and I’m so grateful). The soup’s delicious isn’t it?

I hope to have another Ensemble Flashback in the spring for you all to enjoy! Any suggestions?

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“Clue” Ensemble Flashback!: Christopher Lloyd as Professor Plum

Great Scott! (I couldn’t help myself.)

When I get that inkling that it’s time to dive into the world of my cult favorites, I usually reach for one of three movies  – The Rocky Horry Picture Show, Back to the Future, and of course, CLUE. What better than to pop open my DVD of CLUE to find the best of both worlds – Tim Curry and Christopher Lloyd. Cult films have always allowed me to celebrate strange scientists with an intriguing sex appeal. Sometimes dressed in thigh high leather boots, and other times a rumpled sweater and bow tie.

In this time of celebrating one of Hollywood’s most iconic actors – I not only wanted to drive back into the movie, Lloyd himself, but also the character of Professor Plum.

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The stock character of the mad scientists/doctor/professor has always been one that has intrigued me. I think my love for the character started when I was about seven. My grandma took us all to see THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA at The Ohio Theater – and although the exploding chandelier in the first five minutes of the show scared the pants off of me – the moment the music and show began, I was captivated. And unlike most people who end up falling in love with the story and falling for the dashing and handsome character of Roul – I was the seven year old who fell in love with The Phantom. All gore and white masked. After all, he DID have a cape. He was the mad scientist genius, who made true magic happen under the Paris Opera house. I was also that kid who dressed up like the Phantom, NOT Christine, for the next seven years for every Halloween. I have pictures to prove it.

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“Clue” Ensemble Flashback!: Tim Curry as “Wadsworth”

When the whole mystery wraps around 6 famous possible murderers, the storytellers needed to give an awful lot of plot rollout to someone else. Thus Wadsworth the loyal butler gets to drive. The entire film. Even when no one knows what’s going on, he is still the voice of reason. And when you need a charismatic Brit to carry the weight of nearly an entire 90 minute romp, you can only call one man: Tim Curry.

TM & Copyright © 2002 by Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.

Twenty years ago, I was spending the night at my aunt and uncle’s house. I couldn’t sleep and would always end up channel surfing with my uncle Ken. He stopped on a movie channel playing some old movie. “Oh hey, Clue!” he shot. “Clue? Like, the board game?” I asked. My seven year old brain processed it the same way everyone’s brain does. “That’s stupid. You can’t make a movie out of a board game!” “Oh no, this movie is awesome. Just watch it,” he assured.

Watching him now, I am blown away at his ability to capture “slow and mysterious” at the beginning of the film. He is totally in control of the dinner party and, by extension, the film itself. He is so damn creepy introducing us to the set up. Chewing up all of his tension building exposition. And I mean really chewing. His pronunciation of the “No” is a prime example. We’re left with a sound more akin to “Nnnuhhhhh”.

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“Clue” Ensemble Flashback!: Lesley Anne Warren as “Miss Scarlet”

SHE’S BRINGING SEXY BACK. Alright, y’all, let’s talk LAW: Lesley Ann Warren that is. Laying it down heavy TV-princess-style, Miss Warren brings all the sex appeal you can stuff in a size 2 dress to an otherwise unsexy cast (no offense Michael McKean lovers).

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I battled over how to go about discussing Miss Warren’s Clue performance here, and as I’m sure you’ll deduce, dear reader(s), my thoughts are by no means organized or completely thought out; let’s consider this stream of consciousness, shall we? I almost decided to point out the foibles of her performance but couldn’t find how they failed to serve the story, character, or attitude of the film, so that went out the window. For a fleeting moment, I thought it would be nice to show how she had “reinvented” herself from her former Cinderella persona, but I don’t
know enough about her career-to-personal-life trade offs as I’d like to write such a diatribe. I landed on what’s on the surface: the sultry, murdering, backstabbing, seductress/brothel-owner/operator.

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[I don’t know where all these quotation marks and hyphenated phrases are coming from, so I apologize and ask for your fun-loving forgiveness.]

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“Clue” Ensemble Flashback!: Martin Mull as “Colonel Mustard”

martin-mull-clueMartin Mull’s performance as Colonel Mustard in Clue is full of subtle hilarity. At first it seems that he is going to be a one-note, stereotypical character and serve as the straight man for the comedy. His first several moments in the film depict a career military man (who has a super sweet mustache) with all of the expected trappings. He is the first to arrive to the party, hinting at a devotion to punctuality. He is the first character to press Wadsworth for answers, and seems to be trying to achieve some position of dominance by interrogating him. He even tries to show off his classy, cultured side when he responds to Wadsworth’s Tennyson quote with a Kipling quip. This setup makes it all the funnier when it is revealed (via tiny acting moments) that he is kind of a wimp and not the brightest crayon in the box.

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The assumption when you first start watching Clue is that Colonel Mustard should be brave, tactical and posses some sort of defensive capability. He’s a freaking military officer. You know, someone that seems like he would be good to have on your side in a fight. Colonel Mustard proves to be the very opposite. He is the first to physically issue a challenge to the man they believe to be Mr. Body, but then he is taken down quickly by what looks like a Three Stooges fight move. (And is seen to still be dramatically holding his face in pain several minutes later.)   Whenever the group races into a new room to check out the latest calamity, he is always one of the last to enter, looking like he is partially hiding behind the others. The contrast between these moments and his earlier bluster is brilliant.

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