Without a Clue
Dir: Thom Eberhardt
Star: Michael Caine, Ben Kingsley, Jeffrey Jones, Lysette Anthony, Paul Freeman
Cert / Year: U / 1988
Format: Video

Doctor John Watson is a crime solving mastermind but unwilling to take credit for his actions he created the character of Sherlock Holmes. When people wanted to meet Holmes he hired Reginald Kincaid a dodgy out of work actor to play him in real life. Now lumbered with this incompetent, lecherous, hard drinking, gambler Watson is at the end of his tether as he is forced to cover up Kincaid's antics. However Moriority has just stolen the plates for the five-pound note with the empire threatened Watson is forced to put up with Holmes for one last time.

Over the years there have been many versions of the Sherlock Holmes stories on both television and film so it takes a fair amount of creative thinking to squeeze yet another version out. Of course a comedy based around the Holmes legend is not a new idea, yet before this film no one has been able to do the idea justice (least of all Peter and Dudís awful Hound of the Baskervilles). Most have concentrated on spoofing Arthur Conan Doyleís original stories, but this film has taken an altogether more original story idea. Which is basically what would happen if Sherlock Holmes was thick and Dr Watson was actually the crime-solving mastermind?

Ok so the idea is not original, as it has been used in everything from Inspector Gadget to Hong Kong Phooey but mixing it with the Sherlock Holmes characters certainly is, and whatís more it works well. Turning Holmes into a Clouseau like bubbling fool and making John Watson do all of the work for no credit has plenty of potential for laughs. Add to this a real Holmes like mystery to solve and it really sounds promising indeed.

Of course this all of this would have been for nothing if the right actors could not be found to fill the central two roles (as the case in many previous Sherlock Holmes adaptations). Fortunately with the legendary Michael Caine as Holmes and the fine acting talent of Ben Kinsley as Watson there really couldnít have been a better choice. Michael Caine doesnít often get to do comedy but he has a real talent for it, and the chemistry between the pair is perfect. Add to this the outstandingly beautiful Lysette Anthony, and the ever-reliable Jeffery Jones and you have a powerful cast really suited to the roles. There is even a cameo for Peter Cooke obviously on penance the aforementioned Hound of the Baskervilles.

The script takes it promising concept and pads it out with some fine humor, made all the better by the cast. Whether it is Holmes claiming to solve the case before it begins, or Watson pleading to replace Holmes with himself as the Crime Doctor the jokes keep coming and nearly always hit the mark. The big problem though is the way in which the main plot is handled. While concentrating on the jokes it appears that Gary Murphy and Larry Strawther fumbled the ball bit with the consistency and progress of the main story. It just about works but in places continuity and credibility are stretched a bit. Thankfully the comedy covers most of the plot failings.

Without a Clue is without a doubt the best comedy based on the Sherlock Holmes legends. Itís well thought out premise, and nicely crafted humorous dialogue sets it up as a fine comedy that realistically fits in the existing legends. The outstanding double act of Michael Caine and Ben Kingsley is just the icing on the cake. If someone has stolen your smile then this is just the sleuth to bring it back to your face.


Meet the world's greatest detective and his bumbling partner...Sherlock Holmes.


Sherlock Holmes: Moriarty! Maybe the clue is in the name. Maybe it's an anagram clever people often do that.
(sometime much later) I've got it! His real name is Arty-Morti!

Sherlock Holmes: (looking up at the trees) What am I looking for?
Watson: Footprints.
Sherlock Holmes: Ah. (looking quickly downwards) Have I found any yet?
Watson: Not yet.
Sherlock Holmes: Well let me know when I do.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Reviewed by Glitz Back Top Home