Movie Novelizations #2: Clue The Movie
Ever since I was a kid I’ve loved the game Clue. My friend Steve and I used to play it in his basement. It was so much fun. For Christmas, I even got the Clue VCR Mystery Game. Even though that VCR game was insanely hard, I still loved seeing the characters come alive. So, in 1985, when I heard there was a movie coming out, I had to see it.
I have stated before that Clue: The Movie is one of my (and my wife’s) favorite movies. It told the story of our six hapless dinner guests holed up in mysterious Hill House. One by one people in the house start dying and they have to figure out who among them is the murderer. The script is very quick and clever, and the actors perform the script with utmost enthusiasm. It is easily one of the most enjoyable and funny films I’ve ever seen. My wife and I quote it all the time.
When it was released, the movie screened one of 3 endings randomly sent to the theater. I had kept the newspaper clipping advertising the endings, but have since lost it. The theater by my house in Birmingham, AL got the ending that included all three with title cards telling you when one ending ends and another begins. This is the incarnation that would later appear on VHS then on DVD.
For such a large ensemble movie, I don’t remember there being too much advertising prior to the movie release. In January of 2006, I was Googling around the internet and found the Cluedo Fan Site which is a large site celebrating the history of the board game Clue (or Cluedo in countries outside the USA). On this site’s Clue: The Movie Guide, I was “clue”d (haha) in to the existence of the Clue movie novelization and the fact that the novel included an as-yet-unseen fourth ending. I was floored. I had no idea up until this point that this book or the extra ending even existed. I had to own it.
Needless to say, the book was tough to track down. In the span of a few weeks, I had found only one eBay auction that was offering it…..at 85 bucks. I don’t think so. I did some digging and procured a copy from an anonymous source.
You can see the book above. This novelization was a fascinating read because you can see the improv work done by the actors throughout the movie. Martin Mull as Col Mustard had several good ones. Like this:
Mustard: “Are you trying to make me look stupid in front of the other guests ?”
Wadsworth: “You don’t need any help from me.”
Mustard: “That’s right!”
The last line was not in the novel. I guess during shooting Martin Mull ad-libbed this comeback. They must have liked it because Martin Mull does this same comeback later in the movie in the kitchen while yelling at Mrs. White, but this is also not in the book. Madeline Kahn had the classic line:
Mrs. White: Yes, I did it. I killed Yvette. I hated her so… much… it… it… the… it… the… fee… flames… flames… on the side of my face… heaving… breathless… heaving breaths…
This was also not in the book meaning it too was ad-libbed on the spot. Such classic lines and they were created on the spot. During other scenes, there are some interesting tidbits about Michael McKean’s Prof Plum, and how he’s scared of screaming. Just little things that didn’t make it into the movie that I found intriguing. Other than these small tidbits, I am surprised how much the movie sticks to the script and the novel. Until, that is, we get to the infamous fourth ending.
To be honest, it was a little disappointing, but I had built it up pretty big in my mind. The ending involved Wadsworth telling how all the murders were done by Peacock and Plum. Plum protests his innocence and realizes that the gun is missing. Whoever has it, must be the killer. It is revealed that Wadsworth did it and he also poisoned the brandy, so everyone is going to die in the next few hours. The cops bust in like every other ending and Wadsworth recounts the entire story again, mesmerizing everyone. When he opens the door describing how Col Mustard arrived, he steps outside, shuts and locks the door. He then speeds away in his car, satisfied that he got away with it, but hears a low growl in the back seat. Apparently one of the German Shepards stowed away in the back seat and attacks him. Fade to Black….THE END.
As you see, it is the least clever ending and one that I’m glad got cut. Nevertheless, it was good to finally read it. If you’ve seen and loved the movie, by all means, track this book down, but you won’t be missing anything. Seeing the performances by the on-screen actors is better than the book anyway.
Check out Review #1:
Back to the Future trilogy movie novelizations