6 Amazing Things We Just Learned About “Clue”

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Unlike communism, this is not a red herring: There’s an amazing new “oral history” (with some narration) of Clue, the endearing board-game movie mystery that I refuse to stop talking about.

Buzzfeed got the scoop, and it gives us plenty of fresh interviews with director and screenwriter Jonathan Lynn, co-writer and creator John Landis (of “Thriller,” yes), and cast members Martin Mull, Michael McKean, Christopher Lloyd, Colleen Camp, and our girl Lesley Ann Warren. I personally found it upsetting that I learned anything from this article, because I’d like to believe I already know everything about this damn movie. Nonetheless, these were six important revelations

1. Tom Stoppard almost wrote Clue.

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“I’ll never forget it,” says Landis. “I got a letter from [Stoppard], literally a year later, on this beautiful onion-skin paper, very elegant stationery, basically saying, ‘I give up!’ And he enclosed a check for the entire amount he was paid!”

I’d totally watch a movie called Mr. Boddy and Yvette the Maid are Dead.

2. Stephen Sondheim and Anthony Perkins almost wrote Clue.

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“Undeterred, Landis next approached Stephen Sondheim — yes, the famed musical theater genius — and Anthony Perkins — yes, Norman Bates from Psycho — to write Clue. Landis had been a great admirer of a 1973 “Hollywood pastiche” murder mystery the two had written together called The Last of Sheila. “Oh, it’s terrific!” he booms. “It’s bitchery of a high level, as are Stephen Sondheim and Tony Perkins.”

Jaw. To. The. Floor. As you might remember, Tony Perkins is my classic Hollywood homosexual of choice. And Stephen Sondheim is pretty OK too. But at this juncture, we must discuss an important thing; The Last of Sheila is underwhelming. It’s essentially the same thing as any Agatha Christie mystery, except the main characters are showbiz types. It’s a movie that starts out with one set of whodunit rules, scraps them for another, and ends up on an unsatisfying twist. Excepting James Coburn, there are also no memorable characters in it. I’m glad Clue got passed to Jonathan Lynn.

3. The entire cast watched His Girl Friday to get into character.

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“[Lynn] wanted us all to have that cadence, that very clipped, quick delivery on our lines,” says Warren.

Adds Camp, “I remember Eileen Brennan barked out at the end of the film, ‘Well, you can tell this was before the Method. They just talked!’”

The moral here: Eileen Brennan was in character as the outraged Mrs. Peacock well before filming began.

4. Colleen Camp says she won the part of Yvette over… Madonna.

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“Jennifer Jason Leigh, Madonna, Demi Moore — a lot of actresses were really interested in this part,” claims Camp (Apocalypse Now, They All Laughed). “And I really wanted it.”

Picture Madonna purring, “Non, merci. I am a lady.” I don’t hate it! For the record, we did see Madonna in a maid uniform at a 2006 Purim party.

5. Mrs. White’s “flames” speech was the only improvised moment in the movie.

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“All that was written was, ‘I hated her so much that I wanted to kill her,’ or something like that,” says McKean, still smiling from the memory. “But she just kind of went into a fugue about hatred. She did it three or four times, and each time was funnier than the last. I thought that they could have strung a bunch of them together because they had plenty of cutaways of all of us going, What the f*ck is she talking about?”

This reminds me of an important note: THERE WILL NEVER BE ANOTHER MADELINE KAHN. YOU WILL NEVER GET HER BACK. Carry on.

6. Miss Scarlet was almost Carrie Fisher, but she came down with (sniff, sniff) “hay fever.”

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So Lynn had his main cast, and for Miss Scarlet, he landed the biggest star of the lot: Carrie Fisher. A week before rehearsals were supposed to start, however, Lynn got a call. Fisher was in rehab. “I was very naive,” he says, eyes wide. “I didn’t know what she was talking about. When I met her at a restaurant, she had actually fallen over a chair, but I had just thought she was shortsighted or something. She sniffed a lot, and she said she had hay fever, which of course I believed.”

Lynn discussed this once at a Clue screening at Los Angeles’ NuArt theater, and it still boggles the mind. Carrie Fisher would’ve nailed the wooziness of Miss Scarlet, but would she have also pinpointed the swagger we now lovingly associate with Lesley Ann Warren? I think not, little Ewoks.

Do these revelations feel like gigantic shattering chandeliers in your brain too? Tell me and Colonel Mustard about it.

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