Without a Clue Cover Now upon inspecting the following article, I have deduced that it's contents relates to a 107-minutes movie made in 1988; Directed by: Thom Eberhardt; and Starring: Michael Caine with Ben Kingsley. However, having said that, who the devil might I be? A Reviewer perhaps? Or someone who is...  

Without a Clue

What in hell was I thinking of when I hired that clown to play the part of Sherlock Holmes (Michael Caine)? I mean, I'm Doctor Watson (Ben Kingsley) for crying out loud. The noted author of the Sherlock Holmes novels. Not some drunken actor called Reginald Kincaid (Michael again). Who I picked up from the gutter to play the real-life part of the 'Worlds Greatest Detective'.

But then again, without Reggie by my side no one will believe a God damn word I say. Will they? Well, except for the Bow Street Runners of course. They believed me when I told them I knew who stole the templates from the royal mint.

Oh! Wait a minute. I'm getting ahead of myself here, aren't I? You see, just the other day, I was paid a visit by Inspector Lestrade and Lord Smithwick (Jeffery Jones and Nigel Davenport), who asked me to figure out who stole these monetary templates from their possession.

OK. Not just me. They wanted Holmes too. Mainly Holmes. But I couldn't give him to them, could I? To the chagrin of my publisher, Norman Greenhough (Peter Cook), I sacked 'Holmes' after he pissed me off with another one of his loud mouthed declarations. So, just like the sap that I am, I had to reluctantly retrieve Holmes from his drunken stupor, so that we could then pull off our charade once more.

Thankfully, it worked. And over time we -- or should that be me? -- figured out that the templates in question were in the possession of the mint-employee, Peter Giles, who had somehow miraculously turned up in Lake Windermere. Furthermore, when Holmes and I then go to Lake Windermere to investigate matters further, I also discovered that Peter and the templates have been lost at sea, plus that my arch-nemesis, Professor Moriarty (Paul Freeman), was somehow behind it.

Still. That's most probably why what next transpires all kicks off when Peter Giles’ daughter, Leslie Giles (Lysette Anthony), awaits for her fathers return. As I get unexpectedly killed - Holmes gets unexpectedly thrilled - Moriaty takes part in a risky venture - and at the end of the day both Holmes and myself learn something new about the true nature of adventure.

Before I tell you what I think about 'Without A Clue', please allow me to present you with a number of factual nuisances associated with this film and the original Sherlock Holmes. Firstly, in the books Holmes' exploits where always told from Doctor Watson’s perspective. Secondly, at one point in time the creator of Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, did kill him off, although his publisher then forced him to bring him back again. And thirdly, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Doctor Watson are both in the medical profession, and utilized Holmes as a tool to narrate their ideas through.

Now I hope you've understood all of that, dear reader. Or otherwise you wouldn't quite get me when I say this film was both cleaver in its approach, silly in its execution, whilst dashing about heavy doses of British humor at the drop of the hat.

Ben Kingsley and Michael Caine in Without a Clue Movie Poster
Admittedly, this conjoined adventure wasn't all flowers or roses. Despite it having a very intriguing pretext to follow, certain scenes did hinder the overall story-line because they 'never held much water' in retrospect. All they did was deliberately delay the central narrative by presenting a number of jovial situations that didn't go anywhere at all.

Also, here and there the production values on this flick didn't sit quite right with me either. For some unexplained reason the processing of this film felt dated and 'low budget' in tone. Where as the set-dressing occasionally seemed rather incomplete too

But apart from that -- hey -- I was more than happy to sit back and watch the rest of this movie.

What I enjoyed about it the most was how it tried to define the true nature of perception and warped perspective. Cause as we all well know, at times reality it isn't always as it would appear. Furthermore, I thought most of the jokes worked, the actual story was an engaging one to purview, plus the cast did a blinking brilliant job at playing their respective parts.

Of course, Michael Caine and Ben Kingsley were the stand-outs of the bunch. With Cain depicting Holmes as an idiot-braggart, whilst Kingsley inhabits a frustrated super-sleuth to a tea. OK. I'm sure that some of you out there would have much rather preferred it if these two roles were reversed. Having Caine play the super-sleuth whilst Kingsley plays the idiot-braggart. Yet to me, personally, I thought these two great actors were a charming pair on the screen. Hamming it up to the cameras as if their dear lives depended on it.

Ben Kingsley and Michael Caine in Without a Clue

Without a Clue DVD
Anyway. That's enough of that for the moment methinks. Here, folks, lets us now have some filmic-facts. (1) 'Orion Pictures' first released this production in America on the 21st of October, 1988, and clawed back $8.5 million dollars at the box office. (2) The majority of this movie was shot at 'Pinewood Studios', Buckinghamshire, 'Shepperton Studios', Surrey, 'Blenheim Palace', Oxfordshire, as well as in select parts of the Lake District, London, Gloucestershire, and Cumbria. (3) Loosely translated, this project was entitled 'Clue' in West Germany; 'Without a Trace' in Poland; and 'The Misadventures of Sherlock Holmes' in Portugal. Also, during pre-production it was given the working-title, 'The Impostor of Baker Street', plus used the alternate title of 'Sherlock and Me' too. (4) Some of the taglines used to promote this picture, include, 'He's got his hat. He's got his pipe. But he hasn't got a clue!'; 'Meet the world's greatest detective...and Sherlock Holmes'; plus 'The flip side of Sherlock Holmes'. (5) The opening sequence of this adventure was based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's original Sherlock Holmes story, 'The Red-Headed League', where Holmes managed to capture John Clay and his accomplice, Archie. (6) Larry Strawther, who was one of the writers assigned to script this comedy, has also penned such TV shows as 'Laverne & Shirley', 'Happy Days', 'My Sister Sam', and 'Night Court'. (7) The legendary comedian who played the editor, Norman Greenhough, in this flick -- Peter Cook -- once played Sherlock Holmes himself in a 1978 comedic version of, 'The Hound of the Baskervilles'. (8) After this movie minced like a good-en, Michael Caine starred in the Steve Martin comedy, 'Dirty Rotten Scoundrels'; Ben Kingsley starred in the historical-drama, 'Testimony'; and Lysette Anthony starred in the TV movie, 'The Lady and the Highwayman'.

Lysette Anthony in Without A Clue

Overall I'd say ‘Without A Clue’ was presented in the same vein as some of the earlier 'Lampoon' series of movies. It was well paced. It was well funny. It somehow reminded me of the 1985 Jonathan Lynn comedy, 'Clue'. And for me, that alone makes it well worth a watch. Nice.


WITHOUT A CLUE WITHOUT A CLUE Reviewed by David Andrews on March 11, 2014 Rating: 5
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