Without a Clue

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Without a Clue
Without a clue.jpg
original film poster
Directed by Thom Eberhardt
Produced by Marc Stirdivant
Written by Larry Strawther
Gary Murphy
Starring Michael Caine
Ben Kingsley
Jeffrey Jones
Lysette Anthony
Paul Freeman
Music by Henry Mancini
Production
company
Distributed by Orion Pictures
(now distributed by MGM)
Release dates 1988
Running time 107 min.
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Box office $8,539,181

Without a Clue is a 1988 British comedy film directed by Thom Eberhardt and starring Michael Caine and Ben Kingsley.

Plot[edit]

Sherlock Holmes is a fictional character created by Dr. John Watson (Ben Kingsley) to enable him to solve crimes incognito during a period when he was applying for a post at an exclusive hospital, one in which the senior staff would frown on Watson's "hobby". Although he does not secure the job, Watson decides to satisfy public demand to see Holmes in person by hiring unemployed actor Reginald Kincaid (Michael Caine) to play the part of the fictional detective.

Continuing to investigate cases, now with Kincaid as "Holmes" by his side, Watson is the detective hidden behind the charade of the fictional Sherlock Holmes. Kincaid must rely on direction from Watson, who gives exact detailed instructions every step of the way.

After a major case at a museum, Kincaid oversteps his boundaries with Watson, who fires him. Watson wants to write the character off and tries to start a new series about "The Crime Doctor" with Watson himself being recognized as the great detective. His publishers are quite cold to the idea.

With a new crime, Watson finds he is unable to get information on his own; only when he mentions "Holmes" does he get anywhere. As the crime becomes a major case, the British government seeks the aid of "Sherlock Holmes" and no one else, including Watson's "Crime Doctor". The mystery involves the Bank of England £5 banknote printing plates that have been stolen, with the printing supervisor, Peter Giles, having gone missing on the night of the robbery. With the counterfeiting of these five pound notes, the collapse of the British Empire's economy would prove inevitable.

Scotland Yard's Inspector Lestrade (Jeffrey Jones) is jealous of Sherlock Holmes. Lestrade takes every opportunity to spy on Holmes and Watson and to steal their ideas. The path of clues leads them to Peter Giles' daughter, Leslie (Lysette Anthony), and a twelve-year-old Irregular, Wiggins (Matthew Savage).

Watson and "Holmes" discover that Professor Moriarty (Paul Freeman) is the mastermind behind the scheme. Watson is apparently killed, forcing "Holmes" to solve the case on his own. Having tracked the villain to an abandoned theatre, "Holmes" discovers Watson is still alive. The two work together to free Giles and defeat Moriarty.

Watson has a new appreciation for Kincaid and the public is assured that the team of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson will continue their detective work.

Context[edit]

The film is one of several spoofs that have been made of the canonical Sherlock Holmes. This particular spoof has two notable features. Firstly the main characters have been reversed, with a bumbling Holmes and genius detective Watson replacing the usual bumbling Watson and genius detective Holmes. Secondly, in the film Watson tires of his fictional creation, Holmes, and tries unsuccessfully to terminate his role, but is forced to bring him back by popular demand. This mirrors the real life situation of the author Conan Doyle (also a physician) who tired of his fictional creation Holmes and tried unsuccessfully to kill him off.

Cast[edit]

Actor/Actress Role
Michael Caine Sherlock Holmes / Reginald Kincaid
Ben Kingsley Dr. John Watson
Jeffrey Jones Inspector George Lestrade
Lysette Anthony Lesley Giles (Imposter)
Paul Freeman Professor James Moriarty
Pat Keen Mrs. Hudson
Matthew Savage Wiggins
Nigel Davenport Lord Smithwick
Tim Killick Sebastian Moran
Peter Cook Norman Greenhough
John Warner Peter Giles
Matthew Sim Lesley Giles (Real)
Fredrick Fox Priest
Harold Innocent Lord Mayor Gerald Fitzwalter Johnson
George Sweeney John Clay
Murray Ewan Archie
Jennifer Guy Lord Mayor's daughter

Reception[edit]

The movie has received decent reviews from critics, and is frequently included in "top 10" lists of Sherlock films.[1]

Roger Ebert, however, gave the film two stars:[2]

"Without a Clue" begins with the premise that Sherlock Holmes never existed; that the man known as "Holmes" was, in fact, a third-rate actor named Reginald Kincaid, and he was hired by Dr. John Watson to play the role. This is an amusing premise, but it is not enough.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Without A Clue". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved March 17, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b Roger Ebert (October 21, 1988). "Without A Clue". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved March 17, 2011. 

External links[edit]